Barrah kebab, a savoury delight from Pakistan
November 02 2017 10:36 PM
TASTE TO RECKON WITH: Lamb chops are dipped in marinated spices for sometime before they are cooked on medium grill heat. Photo by the author

I always invite my readers and followers to ask for their preference about each Friday column. Last week one of my dear friends referenced about Pakistani food. 
Pakistani food is generally perceived to be same as Indian food dishes, but they are significantly different from their Indian counterpart. I have a lot of friends from the region and I always exchange culinary knowledge with them. I have previously written about some delicacy like takatak chicken, chapli kebab, seekh kebab, biryani and today I will discuss some aspects about Pakistani cuisine. 
Although Pakistan is relatively a new country, the cuisine has developed over hundreds of the years in the region and incorporated elements from the neighbouring region. 
The Pakistani cuisine varies with each region – the fertile valleys and the sea of Sindh province to the Punjab with its five rivers and rugged north west frontier – the home of famous chapli kebab. The blend of Indian, Middle Eastern and far Middle Eastern cooking and techniques create a distinctive mix of complex flavours. The use of pomegranate seeds in some meat dishes adds a sweet, sour note and reflects the Middle Eastern influence on the food.
Pakistani cuisine involves a blend of slow and fast cooking techniques. Dishes like Haleem are slow cooked over prolonged period of time and dishes like Chicken Takatak are prepared instantly on the hot plate. Lamb is the most popular meat preference for non-vegetarians, followed by chicken, beef and goat. Clarified butter “ghee” and yoghurt is used in the cooking. 
Fresh bread is an important aspect of Pakistani cuisine, breads accompany almost all the meals and fresh breads are served along the meals. The food is eaten with right hand and curries are scooped with naan or roti. Other popular breads include paratha and chapati. Breads are also filled with dal, meat or vegetable mixes. Majority of the population is non vegetarian.
Tandoor is another important and integral aspect of Pakistani cuisine. Tandoor is considered to have originated from Pakistan. Breads and kebabs, mainly non vegetarian and vegetarian are cooked over charcoal fire. The long grain basmati rice is also exported all over the world.  A terrific combination of Basmati rice and meat or vegetables is called biryani which is common in almost all the restaurant menus across the globe. 
Chefs always brag about their own special recipe for the biryani and how uniquely they prepare it. Spices play an important role to develop a peculiar and distinct taste in the food. Spices are mainly used to develop and enhance the taste and aroma of the food rather than just make it spicy.
Sweets are an elaborate affair and are mostly prepared using milk, carrots and flour. A generous amount of clarified butter, sugar and dry fruits are used in desserts which make them rich and wholesome. Some popular desserts are carrot halwa, gulab jamun, shahi tukra, moong dal halwa. Fragrant essence like rose water is also used. A rose drink which is exported all over the world is Rooh Afza, this is made with generations old secret recipe of rose petal leaves and herbs and is served as a summer drink. 

Barrah kebab

Serves 2
Lamb chops 650 gm
Yoghurt 60 gm
Ginger paste 1 tbsp
Garlic paste 1 tbsp
Green chili paste 1/2 tbsp
Red chili paste 1 tsp
Onion, chopped 2 tbsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Coriander seeds 1/2 tsp
Mint leaves 1 tbsp
Fenugreek leaves /2 tbsp
Coriander leaves, chopped 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Mustard oil 1 tbsp
Lemon juice 1/2 tbsp
Onion rings
Lemon wedge
Mint chutney

Fringe the lamb chop and remove excess fat, prick the sides of the meat with a fork and keep them aside.
In a separate bowl combine all the ingredients except the garnish and combine well.
Blend the mixture in a blender to get a smooth paste.
Pour the prepared marinade over the lamb chops and rub well to coat the marinade evenly.
Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or preferably overnight to allow the meat to tenderise and season the meat.
Preheat the grill to high and brush with oil to prevent the meat to stick to the grill.
Place the lamb chops on the grill and reduce the grill heat to medium.
Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side and baste its remaining juices in the marinade bowl.
Baste with melted butter and continue cooking for 5-6 minutes.
Once the chops are almost cooked, allow them to rest on the side and then heat them over the grill again.
Once the chops are cooked, serve hot along with onion rings, lemon wedge, mint chutney on side and sprinkle chat masala.

Note: Allowing the lamb chops to rest after grilling allows them to cook move evenly through carry over cooking and develops a tender soft meat.

* Chef Tarun Kapoor,  Culinary Mastermind,  USA. He may be contacted at [email protected]

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