“I see some of the guests eyeing the galouti kebab and let me tell you, it is not my intention to stand between you and the kebab,” said the always jovial Indian Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri as he inaugurated the Lucknowi Food Festival at Hotel Radisson last week. Indeed, many of the invited guests followed his advice and made a beeline for the mutton.
The festival of Lucknow cuisine brings Kathmandu closer to the dishes of northern India, centred in the seat of the Mughlai nawabs. Lucknow specialities are as easy to eat as they are difficult to make. The galouti kebab is one of them.
“The lamb is finely minced, mixed with aromatic spices, and pan roasted,” said Master Chef Shabir Ali as he demonstrated the technique at a live kebab stall. Ali, who came in specially for the festival from Radisson Lucknow, has prepared a kebab so fine that it melts in the mouth, going well with the ulte tawa ki roti (flatbread cooked on an upside down pan).
Vegetarians need not miss out on this famous dish, as there is a veg lookalike, soy ki tikki, made in the exact same manner but using soybeans. Sheermal, a plump, rounded bread with generous doses of saffron, is just the right accompaniment to these spicy starters.