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The Hirshon Fiercely Complicated Lucknow Galawat Kebabs – इशारों और कबाब


Units Scale
  • 10 oz. boneless hind leg of kid goat or baby lamb, trimmed of all fat and sinew and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1/3 cup diced seeded, unpeeled fresh green papaya
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 2/3 cups usli ghee, melted
  • 1/2 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1/4“-thick slices
  • 3 tbsp. raw unsalted cashews
  • 3 tbsp. charoli nuts
  • 1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 2 tbsp. powdered unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp. kashmiri red chile powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp. ground mace, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cardamon, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. kewra (screw pine) water
  • 1 tbsp. clotted cream
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 drop or two of culinary grade mitha ittr (oil of rose – available here:
  • For Dum:
  • 1 hardwood coal – 1
  • 3 Cloves (Laung)
  • 2 Green cardamom (Choti Elaichi)
  • 1 onion “cup”
  • 2 teaspoons of Lazzat-e-Taam (that which enhances the taste of the food) spice blend: Hold on to your horses, this is a super-complex blend of spice rivaling ras-el-hanout in complexity! You can wimp out and use plain old garam masala, or gird your culinary loins and make it as they used to do in Lucknow for the Maharaja! If you live in India, you can buy a much lesser version of this spice mix from Amazon here
  • This recipe is from Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R Saxena ‘s unmatched and exceedingly rare cookbook Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh.
  • 5 gms clove
  • 7 gms green cardamoms
  • 3 gms mace
  • 2 gms cinnamon
  • 1 nutmeg
  • 5 gms black pepper
  • 5 gms coriander seeds
  • 5 gms baobeer – after MUCH heartache, dead-ends and late-night research, I have discovered this is almost certainly cubeb pepper!
  • 5 gms allspice
  • 5 gms of coconut
  • 5 gms of jarakhush – jarakush is dried lemon grass, substitute Chinese dried tangerine peel if you can’t find it or try dried barberries or omit altogether)
  • 5 gms of cumin
  • 5 gms of caraway seeds
  • 5 gms of sandalwood powder (very hard to find as an edible version outside of India. If unavailable, use 2.5 gms Ceylon Cinnamon instead)
  • 3 gms rose petals
  • 5 gms makhana – these are lotus seeds, available from Amazon
  • 1 gm bay leaf
  • 5 gms poppy seeds
  • 5 gms fennel seeds
  • 5 gms anise seeds
  • 5 gms white pepper
  • 3 dried fennel leaves
  • 1 tbsp kewra (screwpine) water
  • 1 tbsp mitha ittr – essential oil of rose, culinary grade You can get it from Amazon here
  • Method: Lightly roast all the dry ingredients on a griddle on a very slow flame til subtle aroma emanates. Remove from the fire and pound or grind in a grinder, sieve finely, then add kewra and mitha ittr. Dry indoors.


  1. Chill meat in the freezer until firm but not frozen, 2 ½ – 3 hours, then pulse in a food processor until a semi-smooth paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Put papaya and ¼ cup cold water into a blender and purée until smooth.
  3. Add papaya paste and salt to meat and mix well. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 cups of the ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat until a slice of the onion sizzles instantly when dropped into the pot.
  5. Fry onions, stirring often with a slotted spoon, until dark brown but not burned, about 8 minutes. Drain onions on paper towels. Finely mince onions in a food processor, transfer to a bowl, and set aside. Discard all but 2 tbsp. of the ghee.
  6. Blend cashews, charoli nuts, and ¼ cup cold water together in a clean blender until a loose paste forms and set aside. Toast chickpea flour in a large dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it darkens slightly, about 2 minutes; set aside.
  7. To give a smoky flavor to the kebabs use the “Dum” technique. Spread the meat mixture out in a large skillet or a wide dish with a tight-fitting lid. Make a well in the mixture and set an onion cup in the well.
  8. Add a hot hardwood-charcoal coal to the cup with its noted spices, spoon 1 tbsp. of the reserved ghee over the coal (it will immediately begin smoking), and quickly cover skillet or dish. Set aside to let smoke for 10–15 minutes. Discard onion cup, extinguishing coal, if using, in water.
  9. Add coconut, chile powder, garam masala, mace, cardamom, pepper, screw pine water, rose oil (if using), Lazzat-e-Taam, creams, onions, nut paste, and chickpea flour to meat mixture and mix well with your hands.
  10. Wash hands, then grease with remaining reserved ghee and shape meat mixture into 18 1 ½”-wide patties. Meat is now ready for kebabs. Make flat patties of the meat. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Fry the patties on very low flame till cooked. Drain on paper towels. Serve at once.
  11. Serve with paratha or naan accompanied with onions lemon and mint chutney. Mint Dip (Pudina Chutney) is one must have accompany for any kebabs.

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