It is the season of festivals where meat is taboo, and I’m continuing with my series on fake meats. So today’s recipe is a vegetarian Galaouti Kebab.
The word Galaouti is probably derived from Galawati which literally means “melt in your mouth”. As the apocryphal tale goes, Nawab Asaf-ud-daulah had lost all his dentures, and desperately wanted to eat meat. So the royal chefs churned out a recipe, where the meat was so tender that even a toothless Nawab could relish it. Galawat or raw papaya paste was used to tenderize the meat. The legend says that meat must be minced 13 times to get the smooth texture of a Galaouti. But then we aren’t using meat in this recipe.
We are using elephant foot yam. In colloquial language this is called suran or jimmikand or oal or karunai kizhangu. This is a vegetable which isn’t used much routinely for fear that it might sometimes cause a nasty itch in your mouth and throat once consumed. But there are ways of combating that itch, primarily by adding a sour ingredient like tamarind or kokum or lemon to the recipe. And don’t buy too young a yam.
In this recipe, the taste of yam mimics meat, and most people will not even recognize the ingredients. So here’s the recipe for Suran ke Galaouti Kebab:
Yam (suran/ jimmikand)- 750 gm Onions- 3 large Green chillies- 4-5 Ginger- 1 inch piece Garlic- 10-12 cloves Coriander leaves- a small bunch Cashewnuts- 10-12 Lemon-1 Roasted gram flour (sattu)- 2 tsp Bread crumbs- for coating Coriander powder- 1 tsp Turmeric powder- 1 tsp Red chilly powder- 1 tsp Black pepper powder- 1 tsp Cardamom-2 Cloves-2 Salt to taste
Peel the yam, wash well to remove the grit, and cut into large pieces.
Boil water in a large vessel, add 1 tsp of turmeric powder and salt. Add the large chunks of yam to the boiling water and wait till it softens. Slide a knife into the yam to see if it is cooked well. Then drain the water and allow the yam to cool.
To make birista, slice 2 onions thinly, and fry to a crisp golden brown in hot oil. Allow it to cool.
Make a smooth paste of birista and cashewnuts.
Chop one onion, the garlic and the green chillies finely. Chop coriander leaves fine. (Use a chopper if possible to get really fine pieces)
Grind the boiled yam along with the ginger and a few cardamoms and cloves until you get a smooth paste.
In a thick bottomed pan, roast the yam mixture (without oil) till it comes together. Yam tends to be slimy and this process makes it easier to handle. Remove this mixture on a greased plate and allow it to cool.
Add the birista-cashew mix, and the chopped onions, chillies, garlic and coriander leaves to the yam mixture.
The mixture might still be slimy at this stage, so add a tsp of roasted gram flour (sattu) to make it easier to shape the kebabs. You may add more sattu if you don’t get the right consistency. It is not advisable to use besan or plain gram flour here, as it may alter the taste completely. Roast the besan if you don’t have sattu, but restrict the quantity.
Add 1 tsp of coriander powder, 1 tsp pf black pepper powder, 1 tsp of red chilly powder, salt and juice of one lemon to the mix.
Coat your hands with a few drops of mustard oil and mix well. Taste at this stage and see if you want to add more seasoning according to your preference. Don’t overpower the mixture with too many spices.
Take bread crumbs on a plate.
Make small balls of the mixture, and roll on the bread crumbs. Flatten the balls to shape into kebabs.
Once you have shaped all the kebabs, heat oil in a grill pan. Shallow fry the kebabs in oil, flipping over gently once each side is done.
Place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
Serve hot with green coriander-mint chutney.
This works really well as a starter when you have guests over. You can shape the kebabs previously and quickly shallow fry when the guests arrive. And keep them guessing about what these Galaouti Kebabs are made of!