Galouti Kebabs
60 Min

Galouti Kebabs

In a world of expanding wellness, longevity pursuits, and intermittent fasting, I bring you a story of unabashed indulgence from a different era and place. Lucknow, a northern city in India was well known during the Mughal empire for its artistic splendor in textiles, music, architecture, and food. The Mughals, mostly Persian descendants, had declared themselves landed aristocracy for a few hundred years before the predatory eyes of the British had descended upon the country. At the time, Lucknow was ruled by a series of Nawabs, princes of sorts, who led lives of resplendent luxury. Abstinence or restraint was not the order of that time. 

A noteworthy Nawab during late-seventeen hundreds was Asaf-ud-Daula, a man known for his generosity and a notorious obsession for royal edifices and rich cuisine, particularly kebabs. During his reign, Lucknow reached the epitome of architecture with beautiful palaces, roads, and gardens. He commissioned the building of his court, the Imambara with excruciating details, where the largest arched roof built from brick and limestone, without a single beam, still stands today. An entire team of cooks was commanded to create daily changing aromatic stews, breads, and kebabs. These are the decades when Persian and Indian cooks came together to create Mughlai cuisine, still beloved in India. Legend has it that due to his overindulgences, early in his forties, the Nawab lost almost all his teeth and the ability to chew food, yet his love for kebabs did not wane. Anxious to please their beloved leader, the cooks, using papaya to tenderize the meat, concocted a kebab so soft that it required no chewing and would literally melt in his mouth. The Galouti (means melt-in-your-mouth) kebab was born and has remained a popular kebab in India ever since. The Nawab led a short but glorious well-lived life and is buried in his beloved Imambara. 

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Cook Time

60 Minutes



Step 1
In a medium sized bowl, using your fingers, combine the lamb, papaya, onion, yogurt, chile, cardamom, mace, black pepper, cilantro, ginger, and salt thoroughly until the seasonings are completely incorporated into the meat. Refrigerate for a few minutes, up to a couple of hours for the flavors to meld.
Step 2
Preheat the oven to 450°F. On a parchment paper lined baking pan, form little kebabs (patties), flatten, and lay them on the paper about 1/2-inch apart. At this point, the tray can be refrigerated for a day or two. Place the baking pan in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until the kebabs appear cooked all the way, clear juices flow around them and they are slightly golden brown on top. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside for a few minutes.
Step 3
In the meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sliced onion with lemon, salt, and red chile powder. The onions will soften in a few minutes. Sprinkle the kebabs with pomegranate seeds, springs of mint, and serve with yogurt and marinated onions on the side.
1 pound ground lamb or other meat of choice
1 cup peeled and grated green papaya
1 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon red chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons unpeeled minced ginger
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
Juice of one lemon
Pinch of salt and red chile powder
1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds for garnish
Few fresh sprigs of mint
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

Notes & Variations

  • Try to use meat that has 80-85% fat; if the meat is too lean, the kebab may turn out dry.
  • Papaya is a wonderful meat tenderizer therefore these kebabs are super tender and soft – for firmer kebabs or to use them as sliders or hamburgers, cut the papaya quantity in half.
  • If you do not have cardamom, replace with cinnamon and substitute 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg for the mace.
60 Min

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