Traditional flavour from Hyderabad
November 16 2017 09:02 PM
BELLY-FULL: Hyderabadi shikampuri kebab is a meat patty stuffed with seasoned and spiced hung curd. Photo by the author

Legend goes that in old days the Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad) had an array of Biryanis cooked in his kitchen which churned out delicacies that were a combination of Turkish, Mughlai, and Arabic influences blended with native Telugu and Maratha culinary traditions and came out with unique and rich recipes which India never witnessed before. 
A lavish Hyderabadi spread would comprise of an array of meat delicacies, biryani preparations and a rich dessert display. The dishes comprised were prepared in traditional and lavish style. 
We often perceive that Hyderabadi cuisine is just about the delectable biryanis. However, Hyderabadi food is much more than biryani and shahi tukra. Nizami cuisine or recipes are now a days one of the most sought after cuisine/ recipes in India and food enthusiasts always search for the long lost recipes which have become less popular with time. 
What makes Hyderabadi cuisine special is the use of special ingredients with their own unique flavour and fragrances. The ingredients are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree. The addition of certain herb, spice and condiment or an amalgam of these adds a unique taste and texture to the dish. 
A trip to Telangana is incomplete without the visit to the city of pearls, Hyderabad. Apart from its rich cultural heritage and dazzling past in diamond and pearl trading, the city exhibits thriving modernity amid traditional Nizami lifestyle. Like the Nizams of Lucknow were known for their lip smacking delicacies, the Nizams of Hyderabad too share the same passion for food. You can always sample a delectable fare in the busy by lanes of Hyderabad. The most popular dishes are haleem and biryani. I have always heard an ongoing battle between the biryani lovers from Lucknow and Hyderabad stating their biryani as better than their counterpart. There are numerous food joints selling their version of Hyderabadi biryani. 
Mainly biryani can be divided into “kacchi” or the “pakki biryani” which means the meats either cooked raw along the rice or is cooked separately and then layered in the vessel and dum cooked. 
Not many people may remember shikampuri kebab from Hyderabad. Shikampuri means belly full, basically its meat patty is stuffed with seasoned and spiced hung curd. The kebab is then shallow fried in clarified butter and served hot with raw onions salad and mint sauce. 

Shikampuri kebab

Serves 2
Mutton mince 500 gm
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Oil 2 tbsp
Green cardamom 4-6 pods
Cloves 4-5 nos
All spice (kebab chini) 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon 2 sticks
Mountain moss (patthar ke pool) 2 bunch
Black cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Onion, chopped 100 gm
Garlic, chopped 6-8 cloves
Red chili powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves 2 tbsp
Mint leaves 2 tbsp
Green chili 2-3 nos
For the filling
Hung yoghurt 250 gm
Onion, chopped 200 gm
Green chili, chopped 2-3 nos
Coriander leaves, chopped 2 tbsp
Mint leaves, chopped 2 tbsp
Black pepper salt 1 tsp

Heat oil in a heavy bottom vessel and add green cardamom, cloves, all spice powder, cinnamon stick, mountain moss and black cumin seeds.
Stir over medium heat and add the meat mince. 
Add chopped onions and garlic and chana dal and continue to stir over medium heat.
Add salt, red chili, turmeric and mix well.
Add freshly chopped coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chilies and stir.
Add 2 cups of water and bring the mixture to boil till the dal is cooked and the water is completely absorbed.
When the meat is cooked, remove, cool and transfer to a blender and keep aside.
For the filling combine hung yoghurt, fine chopped onion, chopped green chili, coriander and mint in a bowl.
Add black pepper and mix to combine well.
Take about 1 1/2 tbsp of the mince meat mixture and place a portion of the filling in the centre and roll the meat mince to cover the patties.
Repeat this for the remaining mixture.
Heat a little oil in a kadhai and shallow fry the kebabs for 3- 4 minutes till they have a soft brown crust.
Remove on a kitchen paper towel to remove excess moisture and serve hot garnished with thin sliced onions and mint sauce on the side.
Note:You can simplify these kebabs and can make them without the hung yoghurt filling. Then they will be called a sham kebab and you can cook them by deep frying them over medium heat.

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

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