Galouti Kebabs

 

You’ve probably had a kebab before. They appear in a lot of different cuisines, from Indian, to Arabic, to Mediterranean, Greek and more. You could say that most of the world agrees that kebabs should be a thing, so if you haven’t ever tried one, I recommend you do so as soon as possible!

You can get kebabs made out of a lot of different kinds of meats, or even without meat in the form of Paneer (cottage cheese) and other options. You can enjoy kebabs, in one form or the other, almost everywhere from places like Mexico, to Germany, to India, to South Korea, Japan and even Australia. But what if you have a different problem? What if you want to eat a kebab, but don’t have any teeth?

Now, if you’re thinking, “That’s the most interesting problem that I’ve never had”, then hold on a second. You don’t have to be toothless to appreciate the food I’m about to share with you.

You see, while like most of you, I (at least at the time of writing this) am not toothless, the story goes that there was once an ancient Indian king, or Nawab, who was. This king was a gastronome at heart (dare I say, nomnivore?) and wasn’t going to let a small detail like being toothless get in the way of eating kebabs. So the royal cooks set out to make a dish I consider the Nawab of kebabs – teeth optional. The result is today known as the Galouti kebab. Galawati means melt in your mouth, and if you ask me, the kebab does live up to its name.

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When you look at the texture of the kebab you’ll see why I say teeth are optional.

What makes the lamb kebab so tender that it melts in your mouth, you ask? Three things. Raw papaya, gram flour (besan) and a food processor.

Raw papaya is made into a paste and used with this recipe to soften and tenderize the meat. Its enzymes, when allowed to work on the meat overnight, start to break down the mince, allowing for a soft consistency that would not be afforded by other means.

If you’ve ever had a well made croissant, puff pastry or crepe, you know the kind of softness flour can bring to a food when cooked. While gram flour is not a very big ingredient in this particular dish, it is coated on the outside of the kebab, adding that extra softness to the texture.

Finally, yes, I know they didn’t used to have food processors and mixers when this recipe came about. However, the original recipe would call for very finely ground meat, more so than what you would find at your local grocery. If you know a specialty butcher I would recommend getting the meat ground as fine as possible from there, but follow the food processor step of the recipe as well to ensure all the ingredients come together well.

(Note: Raw Papaya is said to cause contractions in women, which can create issues for pregnant women. While the amount in this recipe is not enough to do so, you should check with your doctor before trying this recipe if you are pregnant.)


These melt in your mouth kebabs can be served as an appetizer or main course. Serve hot with onion on bread, naan, or roti if possible.

(Note: Raw Papaya is said to cause contractions in women, which can create issues for pregnant women. While the amount in this recipe is not enough to do so, you should check with your doctor before trying this recipe if you are pregnant.)

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer

Prep Time: 40 minutes + overnight marination

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

500g minced lamb leg

1 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds (seeds from 1 pod, ground)

1 tsp hot chilli powder, or to taste

2 tbsp ground almonds

pinch of saffron strands

4-5 tbsp milk

3 tbsp raw papaya paste

1 tsp rosewater

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

3-4 tbsp gram flour (besan)

Vegetable oil for frying


 

Heat the ghee or butter in a pan. When hot, saute the onions until golden brown and leave to cool.

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The onions cooked in ghee add a richness to the kebab

Warm up the milk slightly and add the saffron to it, allowing it a few minutes to release its flavors into the milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lamb, and saffron milk with all the remaining ingredients with the exception of the gram flour. Add the onions once they are completely cool.

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Ideally marinate overnight, to give the spices a chance to impart flavor to the meat, and for the papaya to soften it

Combine well, then cover tightly with cling film and store in the fridge 6 hours to overnight.

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We should get a smooth texture once we have run mixture through a food processor

Working in batches if necessary, run the marinated lamb through a food processor until it becomes smooth in consistency. With damp hands, shape into 15 or so patties and lightly coat with the gram flour.

Heat oil on a medium-low flame. Working in batches again, fry the kebabs until browned. Enjoy hot!

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