Lucknow, the city of nawabs is my favourite city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.A vibrant city bustling with the heavenly taste of awadhi cuisine, the undercurrents of nawabi hospitality showcased in the way people talk and behave, makes it one of the most unusual legendary of beautiful poetry.Every time I visit Lucknow, I discover something new about the awadhi cusine.I love the city for its laid backness, the chikan embroidery & its cultural heritage which resides in Imambara, British Residency , Chattar Manzil,Rumi Darwaza & the Jama Masjid.Oh I love the city!
Okay coming back to the cuisine ,the Lucknwai kebabs are the world famous.The main difference between awadhi kebabs and muglai kebabs being that while the latter are either grilled or deep-fried, the former are slow cooked [not fried] on a tawa/skillet.The kebabs are served with parathas or roomali rotis [indian flat breads]and onions and are a popular evening appetizer.A versatile dish which is sold on the road side food stalls and served on the dastarkhawans of the rich & royal!The aroma of the dry spices combined with meat & legumes makes it a very delicious snack which can also be served as a side dish.
What I needed:
- 500 gm boneless mutton [you can use lamb meat too]
- 3/4 cup Chana dal [soaked in water for about 3-4 hours]
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated
- 2″ ginger shoot , grated
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped [ optional]
- Cilantro , finely chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins [optional]
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp canola oil [ for pan cooking the kebabs]
- 2 cups water
- 6-7 whole red chillies [adjust to taste]
- 2 tsp whole black pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 ” cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 black cardamon pod [kali elachi]
- 5-6 cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg, grated
How I did it:
- In a pressure cooker at medium high heat add mutton , soaked channa dal ,the dry spices and salt to 2 cups water.Close the lid and let it pressure cook until the meat is tender.
- Open the lid and drain the extra water [yakhni].This water can be used in meat curries or for making biryanis and this is where the actual taste is.So use it instead of throwing it.There should be no water in the mixture left.This is important, else you will not be able to properly shape them later on and they will start loosing their shape and spreading on skillet while you cook them.
- Let the mixture cool down.Once cool, discard the cinnamon stick & the bay leaves.
- Add the mixture to a food processor with the plastic blade. Throw in the cilantro,grated garlic & ginger, raisins, green chilies[if using] and process, without adding any water, until smooth and chunky. About 10 pulses.Do not make a fine paste.You can do this by hand ,that has a far better texture.
- Wash your hands clean. Smother some oil on your palms. Take the above prepared meat mixture, and shape the mixture into an oblong shaped balls on the palm of . Keep aside on a plate. Continue preparing kebabs until you get the number you need.
- Cover the plate with kebabs with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
- On a tawa, pour 1 tbsp of oil and on a very slow heat , cook these until the kebabs crisp dark brown on both sides.Cook these in batches.Add more oil as required.
- Serve warm with onions,lemon & parathas.
Tip: If the meat mixture you have prepared for kebabs is very loose and not tight enough to hold a shape, dry roast about 2 tbsp gram flour/besan for a few seconds, and once cool, add it to the meat mixture. Mix well and you will now be able to shape it better. Add more if required.You can use bread crumbs too.