7 Kebabs From Across India: Skewered Perfection In Every Bite
Image Credit: Stcok

Indian cuisine is a tapestry woven with a rich diversity of flavours, spices, and culinary traditions influenced by centuries of interactions with the world. At the heart of this vibrant culinary landscape lies the exquisite world of kebabs, where skewered perfection awaits in every succulent bite. Originating in the Middle East and brought to India by Arab traders as well as Mughal and Afghan rulers, kebabs have slowly and steadily become a part of India’s culinary culture. In fact, Indians across time have also innovated plenty of kebabs to add to the variety available in India.

From the smoky, aromatic Seekh Kebabs to the royal Galouti Kebabs of Lucknow, and the herbaceous Hariyali Kebabs, each kebab offers a unique blend of flavours and culinary craftsmanship. Delve into the history, ingredients, and cooking techniques that make these kebabs a testament to India's culinary prowess, celebrating the skewered perfection that defines these gems of Indian cuisine. Also, though most kebabs in India are still non-vegetarian delicacies, there are plenty of adaptations for vegetarians and vegans which make the dish so much more accessible today.

Want to know more about the best kebabs from across India? Here are seven examples of kebabs that will make for the perfect feast starters. 

1. Seekh Kebab

Seekh Kebabs are perhaps the most famous kebabs in India, originating from the northern regions like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. These succulent skewers are made by mixing minced meat, usually lamb or chicken, with a blend of aromatic spices, herbs, and sometimes gram flour or raw papaya paste for better texture. The mixture is moulded onto long metal skewers, giving them their characteristic shape. Seekh kebabs are traditionally cooked in tandoors or open charcoal grills, imparting a smoky and earthy flavour. They are usually served with naan, mint chutney, and sliced onions.

2. Galouti Kebab 

Galouti Kebabs are a culinary treasure from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. These melt-in-the-mouth kebabs are made from finely minced meat, raw papaya, and are seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices. What sets galouti kebabs apart is the use of raw papaya, which tenderises the meat to perfection. Created originally for an ageing Nawab of Lucknow who couldn’t enjoy tough meat but still craved those flavours, Galouti kebabs are served with ulte tawa ka paratha (a type of flatbread) and a side of mint chutney.

3. Shikampuri Kebab

Shikampuri Kebab is a succulent Indian kebab hailing from Hyderabad, known for its rich flavours. Minced meat, often lamb or goat, is mixed with aromatic spices, yogurt, and finely ground lentils. Packed with the flavour of red chillies and green chillies, the spicy mixture is shaped into patties, stuffed with a flavorful filling of spiced hung yogurt, and shallow-fried to golden perfection. Shikampuri Kebabs are a melt-in-your-mouth delight, often served as an appetiser or part of a grand feast.

4. Reshmi Kebab

Reshmi Kebabs are another gem from the Mughlai cuisine, known for their silky texture, creamy white appearance and mild flavours. These kebabs are made using boneless chicken or minced meat, marinated in a mixture of cream, yogurt, spices, and ground cashews, which gives them a creamy and rich texture. The term "reshmi" translates to "silken" in Urdu, and it perfectly describes the soft, velvety mouthfeel of these kebabs. They are usually served with laccha vegetables and chutneys. 

5. Hariyali Kebab 

Hariyali Kebabs get their name from the vibrant green colour of the marinade, which is achieved by blending fresh coriander, mint, spinach, and green chilies with yogurt and spices. This green marinade not only adds a burst of herby flavour and signature green colour, but also keeps the meat moist and tender. Chicken or lamb pieces are coated in this herbaceous mixture and skewered before being grilled or cooked in a tandoor. Hariyali kebabs are a refreshing departure from the usual spiciness of Indian kebabs and are often served with a mint-coriander chutney.

6. Shami Kebab 

Shami Kebabs originated in the royal kitchens of the Nizams of Hyderabad in South India. These kebabs are made from ground meat, usually a combination of lamb and chana dal, which are boiled until tender and then blended into a fine paste. The paste is mixed with spices, herbs, and sometimes eggs for binding, shaped into patties, and shallow-fried until they develop a crisp outer crust. Shami kebabs are known for their crispy-crunchy texture and are often served with naan or as a filling in kebab rolls.

7. Chapli Kebab 

Believed to have been innovated by the Mughals, Chapli Kebab are very popular across North India. These kebabs are typically made from minced meat, such as mutton or chicken, mixed with a combination of spices, herbs, and often gram flour for binding. The mixture is flattened into thin, round patties resembling a chapati, which is why they are called "chapli" kebabs. Unlike Shami kebabs, Chapli kebabs are thinner and tend to be crispier when cooked.

Indian kebabs are a testament to the country's diverse culinary traditions and flavours. From the robust and fiery flavours of North Indian kebabs to the delicate and aromatic Mughlai kebabs, and the unique regional variations like Shami and Chapli kebabs, there's something to delight every palate. These skewered perfections in every bite not only showcase the rich heritage of Indian cuisine but also offer a delightful culinary journey for food enthusiasts. So, the next time you savour a kebab, remember the centuries of tradition and innovation that have gone into creating these delectable treats.