Seekh And You Shall Find (Seekh Kebab)

Condimantra Seekh And You Shall Find (Seekh Kebab) Indian Dishes
Cinnamon
April 10, 2017
Condimantra Seekh And You Shall Find (Seekh Kebab) Indian Dishes
Star Anise
April 23, 2017

Seekh And You Shall Find (Seekh Kebab)

Condimantra Seekh And You Shall Find (Seekh Kebab) Indian Dishes

Seekh Kabab

There is something about Seekh Kebab that is enduringly fascinating. Its war-ridden history, culinary subculture and widespread popularity reads like the stuff, myths are made of. While it’s hard to place the meat roll on a political map, food experts have traced its origins to the mighty 12th century Mongolian conquests.

According to renowned food critic and Chef Marut Sikka, the trail followed by Genghis Khan’s army cutting through Mongolia, Middle-East and up to Spain, saw the evolution of kebabs in various forms[1]. During the Mongolian conquests, soldiers preyed on animals, skewed its meat on swords, and cooked over field fire. Once charred, salt, cumin, chilli and pepper were dusted on the meat and eaten off the sword, an invention born out of necessity.

Today, Seekh Kebabs constitute pieces of marinated lamb that are attached to a four sided flat metal skewer, to be grilled. The techniques to marinate may vary, but they all revolve around a mix of lemon juice, olive oil, milk and yoghurt, onion juice, cinnamon, wild marjoram, tomato juice and other spices[2].

So, when did this dish enter India? According to Ibn Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveller, kebabs were an integral part of the daily diet of Indian royalty as early as 1200 AD. Even, commoners relished kebabs and naan for breakfast. But there’s an interesting side story to its stardom in India.

Somewhere in the late 1800s, Nawab Syed Mohammad Haider Kazmi, the ruler of Kakori, a hamlet near Lucknow famous for its mango orchards, invited a British officer for a party[3]. On his return, the officer remarked that the Seekh Kebabs were a little coarse for a sophisticated taste. That was it! Humiliated by this observation, the ruler ordered his chefs to restore his pride or face death. The outcome was the softest and finest of Seekh Kebabs, later christened as Kakori Kebabs.

What made Kakori kebabs unique was the use of raw mangoes to tenderise the meat, and since then the art of using fruits like raw mango and papaya to tenderise meat became an inspiration for world cuisine. It only goes to say survival instinct nurtures creativity. Or else, who would have imagined that what was once just a meal-to-survive a few centuries ago would one day, become a delicatessen in many parts of the world?

 


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