By Mini Ribeiro
Kebabs were initially relished by nomads in Turkey and Nawabs in India, but today are every gourmet’s delight. No Indian meal is complete without a platter of kebabs.
Chefs have experimented and given kebabs countless forms, textures, tastes and fragrances. Teemed often with parathas, taftan, rotis or biryani, delectable kebabs are available across India, Goa included.
Kebabs are very popular because of the unique style of cooking involved and the ingredients used. The flavour that the tandoor imparts cannot be duplicated. Also, interestingly, the method of cooking used is quite adaptable to vegetarian ingredients also.
The spices predominantly used while making kebabs are yellow chilli powder, garam masala, cardamom, mace powder, royal cumin, carom. However, caution must be exercised when using spices, as these should be kept to the minimum. Kasoori methi, kashmiri mirchi which enhance the smoky flavour of food cooked in the tandoor are used.
People in Goa have obviously developed a palate for kebabs as these are offered in several hotels and restaurants. “We offer a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs at our Indian speciality restaurant, Masala. Currently we are running a Kebab Festival daily at our restaurant for dinner,”Vinod Rana, Chef de cuisine, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa.
The exclusive menu comprises of a vegetarian kebabs and a non-vegetarian kebabs platter with paneer tikka Shaslik, subz soya ki shammi, haryali seekh kebab, kakori kebab, maas ke sule, murgh kesari tikka and many more. The platters are served with either dal masala or dal hing wali, naan or roti and pickles, raita and papaya relish.
“Kafir lime chicken tikka and Dahi pudiney ke kebab are the two delicacies which are very popular among our Goan guests,” reveals Chef Udit Srivastava, Chef de cuisine, Goa Mariott Resort & Spa. Tandoori Pomfret, Reshmi lamb seekh kebab, are some of the other must-have kebabs.
I am a die-hard fan of kebabs and can happily eat these at every meal. Not a great one for red meat, I enjoy, chicken, fish and paneer kebabs more. Reshmi kebabs, chicken tikka, Mahi Amritsari a crispy batter-fried fish, flavoured with ajwain seeds,murg lasuni are my all time favourites. Somehow onion rings and green chutney are a must with kebabs. Enhances their taste and how.
Mumbai has some great places for kebabs but my favourite is Kebabs & Kurries at ITC Grand Central. The marinade is unique and the flavours unparalleled. Recently, Master Chef Imtiaz Qureshi was in town and naturally, lip-smacking kebabs were on offer. Interestingly, Goa too has a restaurant by the same name in Cavelossim. The Great Kebab Factory in Powai too offers delectable kebabs. They pair really well with a biryani.
At Vividh, Peninsula Grand, authentic kebabs are served. The spice in the kebabs is balanced adeptly by the chef, with use of cream, dry fruits and kesar.
It is not only five star hotels and big restaurants which serve good kebabs. Some lesser known places are equally good. One just has to know the right places. Kabab Street in Calangute is worth a try.
Marination plays a vital role in lending the right flavour to the kebabs. The marinade must be right as well as the duration for which the kebabs are marinated. I love to use curd. Gives a nice tangy taste, to the kebabs. Pepper and garlic flavoured kebabs are great too. Vegetarian kebabs don’t excite my palate. Those made with corn, mixed vegetables or potatoes. I am only partial to paneer kebabs.
A chef once told me, a simple marinade of lime juice, salt and haldi is good enough to make a kebab delicious. Just marinate for a few hours and grill it and the result is succulent kebabs.
It is not very difficult to make good kebabs at home too, if one has a grilling option. Once you have decided on your meat and the marinade, the rest falls into place easily. And remember kebabs are a great hit at any party or family meal. Today is a feast day, so go ahead and try some.
(Mini Ribeiro is a food writer and columnist)