Deep in the midst of Lucknow Chowk, beyond the donkey carts and men with their piles of saffron naans, is Tunday Kebabs. It serves one of India’s most prized kebabs, the stuff of legend. The story goes that it was created by a one-armed man, Haj Murad Ali, for a toothless Mughal ruler over 100 years ago to melt in the mouth and relieve the king of any awkward public dining situations. Although this isn’t a recipe for that actual kebab, it is my recipe for the closest vegetarian version.
These kebabs are delicate, with a crisp charcoal exterior and a marshmallow-soft centre, so be gentle while you’re making them. Lovely with hot naan bread, a salad like my leaves, herbs and curds, and cucumber and mint raita.
- Yield: 6 Servings 8 makes
- 550 g raw beetroot
- 225 g soft paneer, like Savera or home-made
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons chickpea (gram) flour
- 30 g fresh coriander, finely sliced
- 1 medium egg
- rapeseed oil
- Top and tail the beetroot, place in a pan of cold water on a medium heat, bring to the boil and cook until tender and a knife slides easily through them. Depending on their size, this could take from 40 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and leave to cool, then slip the skins off using your fingers or the back of a knife (wear rubber gloves if you don’t fancy having pink hands for the rest of the day). Mash the beets as finely as you can.
- Pop the beetroot mash into a frying pan over a medium heat and stir-fry for around 5 minutes. Crumble the paneer into the beetroot, add the lemon juice, ginger, garlic, green chillies, garam masala and salt, and stir for another couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the chickpea flour and coriander, and mix really well. Leave the mixture to cool down, then add the egg and mix thoroughly.
- Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper or foil on a flat surface. Take an egg-sized bit of mixture, roll into a ball, then flatten it into a patty around 6cm in diameter. Place on the foil and repeat with the rest of the mixture to make 18 kebabs in total.
- Put a teaspoon of oil into a non-stick frying pan on a high heat. When hot, add 4 kebabs and fry for around 1½ minutes on one side. Turn and fry for another 1½ minutes, or until crispy. Repeat with the rest, then transfer to a serving plate with some cucumber and mint raita and hot naan bread.