With its different regions, each with their own local specialities, cooking styles and ingredients, India truly is a food lover’s paradise. There is much more to Indian food than the generic ‘curry’, and the colours, fragrances and flavours of India’s diverse range of dishes make you want to sit up and take notice.
The legends that sit alongside many dishes are almost as numerous as the recipes themselves, and one such legend describes the creation of the Shami kebab. Shami kebabs are delicious, smooth patties of ground mutton and yellow lentils, blended with herbs and spices, and stuffed with fresh onion, chilli and mint, before being fried and served with chutney and lime wedges.
Originating in the Uttar Pradesh city of Lucknow, once the heart of the Mughal command in India, these tasty kebabs are said to have been invented by a chef to a great Nawab (ruling nobleman). The Nawab, having lost all of his teeth due to his general overindulgence, but not wanting to miss out on his chef’s culinary delights, challenged the chef to come up with a flavoursome dish that could be eaten even by the toothless. And so, as legend tells us, the Shami kebab was born.
So, is this magnificent story a reality, or a work of fiction passed down through the generations? The fact that a similar account exists to tell the tale of the creation of the Galouti kebab (a spicy meat mix tenderised with raw papaya) may lead us to label it as a myth. Whatever the origin of the tale, it is a fascinating and entertaining story, and the resulting dish is a genuine treat for the senses.