Moti Mahal cookbook includes recipes of popular and classic kababs – TimesOut Bengaluru

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The next time we are about to place a moist, tender kabab – the Time Out style guide encourages us to supplant the ‘e’ with the ‘a’ – on our expectant tongue, we will take a moment to salute the effort that goes into making this meaty morsel. The plain-looking, almost drab dish, which conceals a hundred textures and flavours in its folds, often requires not one, but two levels of marinating, a minimum of 15 to 20 ingredients and lots of muscle work before it makes it to our plates.

In his new cookbook The Kebab Trail, Monish Gujral, grandson of Kundan Lal Gujral, the founder of the Moti Mahal chain of restaurants, offers detailed recipes of some of the most popular and classic kababs: chapli, kakori, digi, shammi (originally shami, so named after Bilad Al-Sham, the Arabic term for Syria) and more. And there are some border crossings too: food from Pakistan, Turkey, the Middle East, Central and East Asia and Africa.

Gujral begins with an introduction about his journey around the world in search of great kabab recipes over the last few years. He also hands out pointers on what not to do while making kababs and how to grill them in a tandoor, over a charcoal fire or on the gas. Before the recipe section begins, Gujaral spends some time explaining basics such as making brown onion paste or hanging yoghurt, ingredients vital to several recipes in the book. The kabab recipes are divided into sections by meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables.

Gujral dives straight into each kabab recipe without much ado, after giving us a line exactly on why he had chosen what he has chosen. We wish every recipe would be accompanied by a bit of its history or even a romantic anecdote like the famous lore about the toothless Lucknow nawab and the tundey kabab. The recipes are detailed and involve step-by-step instructions on everything from preparing marinades, slow cooking and how to get that signature smokiness to your kababs by placing a red hot charcoal along with spices in a covered bowl containing the meaty mixture.

Get ready to slave over the stove for quite a few hours, as we learnt the hard way while trying out the Kashmiri shammi kababs, one of the easier recipes in the book so to speak. While the ingredients were readily available, it was the slow cooking of the boneless mutton pieces stewing in fragrant spices and some gram dal that took over an hour-and-ahalf. When the meat was tender enough to be blitzed in a food processor, our kitchen filled up with a gorgeous aroma. We then perked up the mince with finely chopped green chillies, ginger and fresh coriander before shaping it into patties which were then deep-fried. The chana dal gave the kababs a nice crunch while the delicately flavoured mutton mince was spicy and quite moreish. A blessing of lime spritz was all that was needed. We would love to try the red kidney bean kababs and the jackfruit kababs from the vegetarian section soon. And for those who cannot wrap their heads around the baffling list of spices mentioned in nearly every other recipe, a handy glossary at the end explains it all.

By Amrita Bose on June 07 2013 12.05pm

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

1 Comment

  1. Imtiyaz

    April 18, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Chef Monish.

    I own two of your books. But I am having difficulty getting the kabab trai. I live in Canada. Please help

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