Food cooked in charcoal and wood fire has an unreserved allure universally that draws its roots since the ancient of days. Being the most primitive form of cooking since the stone age, when man discovered the wonder of creating fire from sparks by striking two stones together, it has been ingrained into the genes of humankind and forms a part of the DNA of the Food-logy of our being. Even today, after centuries of existence, evolution and technological advancement, coal and wood fire continue to serve mankind with both, the exquisite range of grilled and barbecued spreads and provision in the form of the cheapest cooking alternative for countless folks worldwide struggling to make ends meet.
Amongst the endless list of techniques and recipes from the wood fire nothing perhaps is more illustrious, loved and accepted than the middle eastern range of kebabs and grills.
The English phrase 'all dark clouds have a silver lining' and William Shakespeare's widely quoted line from the play 'As You Like It' (Act 2 Scene 1) "Sweet are the uses of Adversity" couldn't be more true than its significance with regard to the invention of the legendary Kakori Kebabs when the adversities of the old and toothless Nawab of Awadh made his khansamas grind their teeth in order to create the kebab that literally melts and evaporates like a wafer.
My quest, in addition to the natural attraction towards charcoal grilled food, was to replicate the Kakori Kebabs that had blown away the imagination of my mind and left me spell bound with its dramatic melting texture and softness and the subtle exquisite flavours that translates into pampered royalty incensed with the most exuberant spices and the aromatic smell of the charcoal grill. After much attempts, and a recipe, I did manage to achieve something I would categorize the likes of Kakori Kebab.
There are many steps in the process. The key in creating the Kakori Kebab is doing those small steps right. Choosing the meat is the most vital step as that determines the ultimate outcome of the kebab even if you have got the other steps right.
Ingredients : Serves 4-5
- Minced Mutton (Goat) Meat - 500 gms (The meat should be chosen from the raan, or the leg, without any fat or ligaments.
- Raw Papaya - 50 gms
- Kidney fat - 50 gms
- Salt to Taste
(A) Kakori Masala (Roast and Make Powder)
- Green Cardamom 5 pcs
- Black Cardamom Seeds 1/2 teaspoon
- Cloves - 3 Nos
- Nutmeg - a Pinch
- Mace/Javatri - 1 Small Blade
- Shahi Jeera- 1/2 Teaspoon
- Rose Petal - 1/2 teaspoon
- Kebab Chini - 5 Nos
- White Pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- Kashmiri Mirch powder- 1/2 tablespoon
- Roasted Gram Powder - 3 tbsp
(B) Kakori Masala (Make Paste)
- Dessicated Coconut - 3 tbsp
- Khuskhus (Poppy Seeds) - 1 tsp
- Khoya - 1 tbsp
- Onions (to be sliced and fried) - 4 medium sized
- Cashew nuts - 1 tbsp
- Fresh Malai - 1 tbsp
- Saffron - a pinch
- Rosewater - 1 tablespoon
- Kewda Water - 1 Tablespoon
- Mince Meat and Fat thrice to a very fine consistency in a grinder.
- Add papaya paste, salt and Kakori Powder (A), mix well
- Add Kakori Masala (B) along with Rose water, Kewda and Saffron.
- Mix thoroughly and keep for half an hour.
- Take a portion of the meat (about 100 gms) and put it on skewers and shape it like a seekh kebab (the skewer type should be fat square shaped since they hold the minced meat the best).
- Roast on charcoal grill. Be careful to turn the seekh constantly to avoid over grilling from a particular side. Alternatively preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius and grill kebab for 15-20 mins or till browned from all sides. Remember to oil the kebabs in between for better and uniform grilling.
- Remove Carefully from the skewer on a plate.
- Serve with green chutney and sliced onions (although it was loved without any chutney)
(Recipe Credit: Gautam Mehrish : Corporate Executive Chef at Sun-n-Sand Hotels, Mumbai)