Synonymous with Lucknow's artistic and exceptional food heritage, kebabs have evolved to garner worldwide acclaim for the City of Nawabs. Finding origins in the royal kitchens of Awadh and other Mughal seats of power, kebabs have now secured an unbeatable spot in the hearts of the masses.
From an exquisite Galawati to a scrumptious Seekh, the umpteen varieties of kebabs entwine tales, which are as interesting as their taste itself. So if you are enticed by the flavours and fancies of these sumptuous varieties, scroll below to read about the 5 kebabs from Lucknow and their astounding stories of inception!
Narrating the tale of Awadh's ruler, Nawab Asad ud Daula, locals recount that he was struck by a desire for fascinating types of kebabs. Irrespective of the occasion, he would always ask his khansamas to prepare different varieties of the dish. During old age when he lost all his teeth, his yearnings for his favourite delicacy led him to the royal chefs, asking for a preparation that could be devoured without chewing.
It was this desire that seeded the foundation of these succulent kebabs named Galawati, which literally translates to 'melt in the mouth'. Amongst the most popular recitals, the name of Haji Mohammad Fakr-e-Alam Saheb comes up, who is believed to have made the first Galawati Kebab.
Claimed to be flavoured with a mixture of 300 different spices, these kebabs are prepared from minced meat and raw papaya pulp and the archaic recipe stands preserved even today! Myth or reality, as this story may be, these kebabs are definitely devoured with much delight.
Where you can find: Tunday Kebabi, Mubeen
Originally called Shish Kebab, Seekh Kebab was introduced in India by the Turks. As per the literal meaning, the word 'shish' means a sword or a skewer and these 'swords' formed an important tool for cooking this dish. Chronicled stories recount that these kebabs originated amongst the Turks when they rested in shelter camps during battles. After a day of the strenuous fight, the soldiers found their supper in meat roasted finely on their swords!
Soon, the recipe transformed into the evolution of a daytime favorite meal too and that is how it trekked up the path of fame and popularity. Even today, the preparation style remains to be as exciting as the dish itself. These opulent kebabs are laid out on a grill, over a mound of fire but the flame never touches the meat.
Where you can find: Kareem's, Dastarkhawn, Mubeen's, Tunday Kebabi
This extravagant kebab wraps another interesting tale of origin amid its lip-smacking taste. Once upon a time, a local chieftain from Kakori district invited a British friend for a lavish feast during the monsoon season. On this occasion, the foreigner had complained of the chewy quality of kebabs, making unsound remarks about them. Insulted by his words, the chieftain asked his chefs to prepare a softer and tender version.
Consequently, this led to the birth of Kakori Kebab, which revolutionised the cooking styles with the maiden usage of raw mangoes. Later, this technique was deployed in a variety of other dishes too, to achieve the desired level of softness. Prepared for the first time in a local Awadhi kitchen, Kakori Kebab has won the hearts of people across continents today!
Where you can find: Abdul Wahid Kakori Seekh Kebab, Naushijaan
As per the local beliefs, the origins of this luscious preparation resonate on the exact same lines, like that of Galawati Kebabs'. It talks of nawab whose penchant for delicious food made him a fan of kebabs. Despite losing his teeth due to his overconsumption, he still wanted to relish the piquant flavours of his favourite dish. That's when a chef devised the royal serving of Shami Kebab but little did he know that this dish would mark a journey of global love and recognition!
Being a task that tests your patience, the preparation of Shami Kebabs takes a lot of effort and time. Layered with the choicest spices and blended with secrets of the traditional Awadhi Kitchen, these kebabs will leave you drooling for more. While the truth of the story may be debatable, you can surely not argue over the taste of this irresistible dish!
Where you can find: Kareems, Mubeen
Ghutwa or Majlisi Kebab
Adorning food plates at parties, festivals and even regular celebrations, kebabs were consumed by a large count of gastronomical lovers at one time. Thereby, it became difficult for the chefs to shape and fry hundreds of kebabs and that's how the idea of Majlisi Kebabs cropped up.
Being a dish that can be prepared in bulk, Majlisi Kebab can easily cater to throngs of foodies. Further, they are also known as Ghutwa Kebab, which is derived from the style of cooking. Though it may appear like keema, the fried and steamed pulverised meat of Majlisi Kebabs, gives it a unique taste that would woo your tastebuds again and again!
Where you can find: Naushijaan
Speak of the different kebab varieties that one can find in Lucknow and the list may simply turn out to be endless. While we were able to unravel these interesting tales, we are sure that there are many others too. So if you know how your favourite kebab traversed from being an idea to a much-loved dish, do not forget to tell us in the comments below!