An affair with a Kebab

Did I say the best Galawati kebabs… Delhi…..

I probably did and just to make sure I reiterate “these are most definitely the best Galawati kebabs in Delhi”period. And I’m in full senses when I proclaim this, no influence of any spirits of any kind. Soft melt in your mouth, aromatic and flavourful, smooth…..caramelised and crusty on the outside and soft and juicy inside. These kebabs tick all the right boxes, served with traditional ulta-tawa (inverted wok) parantha and accompanying mint chutney and onion salad, they constitute a perfect meal.


Galawati kebabs originated in Lucknow and having tasted the originals I had always been in awe of them. By contrast my Galawati experience in Delhi had always been a disaster, not one or two but multitude of places all professing links to Lucknow and peddling something in the name of Galawati. By the end of it I got so disillusioned and cynical that i even stopped seeking them out, and the now fading memory of the original’s seemed like a past life experience. That is when this kebab happened……



In this instance I was given the sketchy details of a location with a name, and a promise of a wonderful kebab experience from friends who had been lucky enough to stumble upon this place. They were a hesitant bunch who fingers crossed decided to have a meal here, only to discover how wonderful of a mistake they had made and in the process discovered a real gem of a place.

What do you call a location of a shop if it is hidden in a street that is itself almost hard to find? And if you are resolute enough to still embark on the adventure, it is with a  deep desire to be rewarded with a gem at the end of it all. Almost akin to diving deep in the hope of finding pearls.


While looking for this place on a perfectly hot and muggy late evening I was reminded of the myths associated with pilgrimages. The higher the location of the deity and the harder it is to reach, bigger the divine rewards awaiting  those who make it. The hard work had been done, the sweat the physical discomfort, the question was would it be enough to please Annapoorna.



Lucknow Galouti kebabs at Za
Galouti magic



The outlet itself is very modest, the interiors humble and the whole ambience is of a place that is extremely busy from the time it opens till it shuts down, rather its a place that shuts down when the stuff gets over…..a sign of really good place. The place has no air-conditioning so those high on comfort visit only during months when the weather is forgiving. Those stickler for hygiene do not say you were not adequately warned, if you still want to experience order takeaway.

The place has a limited menu and the crowning jewel is undoubtedly the Galawati kebabs. You can choose from Mutton, buff(beaf) and chicken, we tried all three and found the mutton and buff a few shades better than chicken. Those squeamish about buff can have mutton and chicken and still savour one of the finest Galawati kebabs in Delhi.


Also on offer is Mutton, buff and chicken keema, a thick mince meat curry, again a dish worth trying and I shall rate buff, mutton and chicken in the decreasing order of preference. The accompanying parantha at Lucknow galawati is a perfect instrument to mop up the kebab’s and keema, made fresh of the tawa and can be tasted on their own.

One of the joys of eating at Lucknow Galawati is seeing your food cook right in front of your eyes, it is practised here not as a new age culinary fad but purely from want of space and adds to the overall experience, elevating food to a multi sensorial immersive experience. The sound of meat coming in contact with oil close to its smoking point, the smell of frying meat, the aromas of spices and the sight of sea of kebabs in large industrial size traditional pans sizzling away to glory…..and you have still not tasted your first kebab.


The anatomy of a Galawati Kebab…..

A good Galawati kebab has a crispy and caramelised surface and is juicy and soft inside. It should melt in the mouth….making chewing almost redundant, a harmony of flavours where none are overpowering but seamlessly complimenting each other. As history goes, Galawati kebabs were invented during the reign of an ageing and toothless Nawab of Lucknow, who not willing to give up on his love for meat exhorted his royal chef’s to come up with something…..and how they did.


It is also folklore that the chef’s added a new spice every day and the Nawab played a guessing game every day, trying to identify the spice. That’s how the original Galawati kebab recipe ended up with some 150 spices, many of those exotic and sourced from foreign lands.


The keema……




The Parantha….


Zakir Nagar in Jamia Delhi is full of other attractions, there are buff seekh kebabs, rolls , biryani’s and sweets galore all on a single stretch of street half a mile long.


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