Galouti Kebabs are traditionally made of meat, but turning them vegetarian or vegan can topple the delicate balance of ingredients, robbing the dish of its signature melt-in-the-mouth texture. This Rajma Galouti Kebab recipe is not only vegan and gluten-free, but also manages to recreate the texture and flavours of the Lucknowi favourite.
There is perhaps no delicacy from Lucknow as famous as the melt-in-your-mouth Galouti Kebab. Usually made with meat, these soft kebabs make for a great appetizer when served with chutneys. Serve them with some tawa or rumali rotis, and you have a complete meal to enjoy. But how do you convert this meaty favourite into a vegan, gluten-free treat? Here’s how.
The secret to turning Galouti Kebabs into a vegan treat lies with the history of the dish itself. Galouti Kebabs are soft, minced meat cutlets. The very word ‘galouti’ translates to melt in the mouth, which is why this is the key aspect of the recipe that one needs to nail. Without meat fats and ghee, this is a difficult task to accomplish—which is why many attempts at turning Galouti Kebabs vegan turn out dry cutlets. But just like Nawab Asad ud-Daulah, in whose kitchens the dish originated, experimenting with vegan ingredients can help make these attempts successful.
So, to address this issue, what I do—and I have experimented a lot with these kebabs—is to pick a lentil that tastes meaty. Rajma or kidney beans fit the bill really well because of their dark and meaty texture. Now, to our softening agents. Did you know that grated raw papaya has traditionally been added to soften kebabs like the Galouti Kebab? Papaya contains a compound called papain, which tenderizes meat and anything it’s added to. So, this recipe calls for the inclusion of raw papayas in their grated form—the finer the grating, the better. Finally, we need a smokey fat that will tenderize the kebab while adding to its flavour. The answer is almond butter, which is earthy and smokey. A small amount of this butter can transform vegan Galouti Kebabs into an all-time favourite!
Don’t believe us? Here’s the recipe for vegan, gluten-free Rajma Galouti Kebabs for you to try out for dinner tonight.
2 cups rajma, boiled
2 potatoes, boiled
½ cup raw papaya, grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp shahi garam masala
1 tsp rose water
½ tsp almond butter
2 tsp coriander leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste
Oil, for frying
1. Place the boiled rajma and potato in a large bowl. Use a masher or your hands to mash the ingredients. Never use a food processor or grinder, as it can turn the mashed rajma and potatoes sticky.
2. Add the raw papaya, onions, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, shahi garam masala and salt to taste.
3. Mix well, then let the blend rest for at least half an hour. This will give the raw papaya time to tenderize the kebab mix.
4. After the resting time, add the almond butter, coriander leaves and rose water to the kebab mix.
5. Take a handful of the kebab mix, roll a ball and flatten the kebab between your palms. You can oil your palms before doing this.
6. Follow suit with the rest of the kebab mix, and make as many kebabs as the blend allows.
7. Now, heat oil in a shallow pan on a low flame. Add the kebabs, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Covering the kebabs while cooking will trap the steam and keep them soft.
8. Uncover the pan, carefully flip the kebabs, and let them cook while covered for another 2 minutes.
9. Remove the kebabs from the pan after they’re golden brown and yet soft on both sides. Serve hot with ulta tawa parathas or rumali rotis.