Ramadan Special: Rampuri Style Bhapi Kababs For Iftar

Ramadan, a sacred month in Islam, is observed with fasting from dawn till dusk, followed by feasting and prayers. Rampuri cuisine, originating from Rampur, India, is renowned for its rich flavours and intricate preparations, influenced by Mughal culinary traditions. One notable dish is the Bhaapi Kebab, a succulent kebab marinated in aromatic spices and steam-cooked to perfection. This technique preserves the kebab's moisture while infusing it with layers of flavour. During Ramadan, the Bhaapi Kebab holds special significance, serving as a delicious and fulfilling dish for Iftar, the meal to break the fast after sunset.  

What are Bhapi Kababs? 

Dr Tarana Husain Khan in her book, "Degh To Dastarkhwan" shares, “Bhapi kababs, sometimes also called pateeli kababs in Rampur, would arrive in the early evening round globules standing with poised dignity in an inch of aromatic ghee. They were pale, never crispy, browned like the regular kebab patties, since they were steamed in ghee and their own juices rather than deep fried. They are prepared in a manner of seekh kababs and they have the same melting succulence, spices, a light charcoal barbeque smell ingeniously wrought by smoking the batter with a piece of burning charcoal doused in ghee right before shaping the kebabs into large spheroids.” 

She mentions, “Since a kababi. The elusive seekh kabab cook is much in demand, expensive and pre booked for grand feasts, the bhapi kebabs are a delicious alternative. Ghee made aromatic pipe frying, onions and spices from base for slow cooking the bhapi kebabs. The mincemeat used for making the kababs, is first softened using raw papaya, milk and ginger. The skilled cook must assess the nature and future behaviour of the mincemeat – which itself is prepared from lean meat and then commit the correct amount of papaya milk. Too much and the kebabs would become mush; too little and they would bounce off the walls. Then fried and ground onions with the spices and ground chanas are added to the mincemeat that is grounded on the stone sil-batta to make it soft, taking care to remove tendons and scraps which tend to harden, making the kababs too tough. A hand worked meat grinder screwed on to a wooden bench used to be an essential part of Rampuri households since the task required some technical expertise and muscle power, thought to be lacking in the female species. It was assigned to a male servant, Supervised by the cook, the boy, seated on the bench, would walk on the meat grinder, mincing the meat and removing the scraps. Some khansamas and gourmands shun all machines for preparation of mince. For kebabs and koftas, preferring to work on meat with a sil-batta. It is a tough job.” 

“The prepared meat is smoked with a chunk of burning charcoal, placed on a hollowed centre on a piece of onion. Skin melted ghee poured on the glowing charcoal, and the vessle is tightly covered with a lid for some time to let the smoky redolence and the flavours settle in. Finally, the prepared mince is shaped into perfect round orbs and put into a narrow mouthed vessel containing warmed ghee, covered and slow cooked and turned intermittently till they are done. The meat juices and the ghee produce with this team, very often the cooks or the lady of the house reject the meat for they are staking their reputation on the judgment of the critical expectant gourmets. It's because of the stringent meat requirements and the tedious preparation that bhapi kababs have become an endangered species of kebab genus. The Awadhi cuisine has a similar style of kebabs called the gola kebabs,” she adds. 

Bhapi Kabab Recipe 


1 kg fine mince of lean meat 

1 -1 ½ - 2cups, ghee 

1or 1 ½ tbsp green papaya paste or 1 tsp tenderizer powder 

50g parched gram, shelled and powdered 

1 large onion, finely diced 

1 tbsp ginger paste 

1 to 2 tbsp red or yellow chili powder 

10 Green cardamoms 

3 Black cardamoms 

6-7 cloves

1 tbsp peppercorns 

4 to 5 Bay leaves 

1tsp garam masala powder 

1 tsp aromatic powder 

1 egg if required 

Salt to taste. 


Fry the onions in ghee till golden drain and remove them. Grind them with the garam, masalas, cardamoms, cloves and peppercorns except bay leaves and reserve. 

Take the mince mint in a large bowl and add chili powder, aromatic powder, garam masala powder, parched gram powder, papaya paste and salt. Knead them well. Tip: grind the mincemeat in a mixer grinder or a sil batta if it appears too tough. 

Add the fried onions and garam masala paste, and mix thoroughly. 

Heat oil in a large thick bottom pan and add bay leaves. Lower the flame. Shape the mincemeat into medium sized balls and put them into the ghee. Turn them once when one side becomes light brown. Tip: first fry one meatball. If it starts to fall apart, add an egg to the rest of the batter. You can also add breadcrumbs. If the meatball is too hard, you can try to make the mincemeat softer by adding half a teaspoon of tenderizer. If nothing works, shape them into flat patties and shallow fry them over low heat to make kabab patties. 

Cover the pan and cook the dish on very low heat, shaking the pan intermittently to turn the kebabs. Tip: Put a tawa under the pan if it doesn't have a thick base. The kebabs will cook in steam of their own juices. When all the water evaporates and only ghee is visible, switch off the flame. Serve it hot with roti or parathas.