Grilling kebabs with a recipe from Chef Elango Shanmugam
History may be written by the victors, but Executive Chef Elango Shanmugam of Vivanta by Taj-Dwarka, New Delhi believes that history is remembered by recipes and tastes that are handed down from one generation to the next. Little wonder that Taj-Dwarka’s signature restaurant, The Indus Express traces North West region’s past through the flavours of Kashmir, Rawalpindi, Amritsar, Khyber and Lahore. Fact checking our historical accuracy, the Tiruchirappalli-born chef puts forth what seems to be a trick question: Do all kebabs have a melt-in-the-mouth texture? Launching into a lesson, the 41-year-old chef tells us that kebab textures can tell entire stories of origin. “The melt in the mouth kebab, which is the Galouti Kebab, originated in the kitchens of the Nawab of Lucknow and is a signature of Awadhi cuisine. However, kebabs from the North West Frontier like the Peshawari Seekh Kebab have a bite to them as the meat is hand ground or minced.”
Call it, if you will, his standard operating procedure, but this chef refuses to let mechanisation slip into any process that requires manual work. Using the traditional sil bhatta (grinding stone) to grind the chutney accompaniment for the grill meats, Chef Elango’s check of authenticity for a seekh kebab, besides the flavouring, is the coarse, chunky and juicy texture that each bite offers.
Mutton chunks- 350 gms | Ginger- 20 gms | Garlic - 30 gms | Green chilli - 5 gms | Cheese - 20 gms | Star anise - 5 gms | Jeera powder - 5 gms | Shahi jeera powder - 5 gms | Red chilli powder - 5 gms | Garam masala - 5 gms | Salt - 10 gms
• Wash the mutton chunks and drain out the water.
• Mix all the ingredients and then mince only once in a mincing machine keeping the texture of the meat as coarse as possible.
• Skewer the mutton mince on a skewer rod and cook in a tandoor.
• Serve garnished with chop coriander.