Citizens, the true height of Indian gourmet cuisine is found in the Royal Maharaja recipes of the city of Lucknow. Perhaps the most famous Lucknow recipe is that of seekh (skewered) kebab.
Awadhi cuisine (Hindi: अवधी भोजन, Urdu: اودھی کھانا) is from the city of Lucknow, which is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in Central-South Asia and Northern India.
The cooking patterns of Lucknow are similar to those of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Northern India with the cuisine comprising both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
The Awadh region has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, and the cuisine of Lucknow bears similarities to those of Central Asia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad. The city is also known for its Nawabi foods.
The bawarchis (chefs) and rakabdars (gourmet cooks) of Awadh invented the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today.
The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, and rich spices, which include cardamom and saffron.
The Seekh Kebab has long been considered a piece de resistance in the Awadhi dastarkhwan. Introduced by the Mughals it was originally prepared from beef mince on skewers and cooked on charcoal fire. Today, lamb mince is preferred for its soft texture.
My version of this recipe is based very closely on one from the legendary chef Jiggs Kalra – I hope you find it as savory and delicious as I do, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
800g kheema/ minced lamb (with 10% lamb fat)
30g onions (finely chopped)
15g ginger (finely chopped)
8 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
4 green jalapeño chilis (seeded & finely chopped)
10g taaza dhanial/ coriander (chopped)
60g queso fresco cheese (grated)
1 tsp anaardaanal/ pomegranate powder (or use pomegranate molasses or amchur (sour mango powder))
1 tsp black pepper (freshly roasted & coarsely ground)
½ tsp pudhina/ mint powder
¼ tsp chotti elaichi/ green cardamom powder
⅛ tsp – motti elaichi/ black cardamom powder
⅛ tsp – daalcheeni/ cinnamon powder
⅛ tsp – lavang/ clove powder
⅛ tsp – jaiphal/ nutmeg powder
⅛ tsp – asafœtida
a generous pinch of kaala namak/ black rock salt powder
desi ghee/ clarified butter for basting
Mix all the ingredients, except ghee, divide into 16 equal portions. Make into balls and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Using a moist hand, spread the balls by pressing each along the length of the skewers, 2 inches apart, and making each kebab 6 inches long.
Roast in a moderately hot tandoor for 4 minutes or on a charcoal grill, for about the same time, turning at regular intervals.
Remove, baste with ghee and roast again for a minute. The kebab can also be shallow-fried on a tawa/griddle, in which case you make croquets and do not skewer the mixture.
De-skewer, arrange kebab on a platter, sprinkle garam masala on top and serve hot with mint chutney or saunth.