Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine has to be the pride and joy of every Kashmiri. "Waz" when literally translated means "cook"/"chef" and "wan" means "shop". Wazwan is what was traditionally served to guests at weddings and other special occasions before there was any notion of buffet menus, which have now slowly started to become the norm.
Wazwan has more than 30 unique and mouth watering dishes, which include a healthy mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian preparations. For those unfamiliar, there's two major demographics in Kashmir - the Hindu (Pandit) population and the Muslim population. Both these cultures prepare Wazwan slightly differently. While the Kashmiri Pandit variant of Wazwan uses heeng/asafoetida, the Muslim variant uses garlic. Kashmiri Wazwan is fascinating and in itself a fantastic topic of indulgence. I could talk about it all day long and all the intricacies there are in the cooking techniques and in my humble opinion, it hasn't received as much limelight or recognition as it deserves. It's also why we have this website, to bring gems like these to the attention of the world.
Coming back to the actual topic of this blog post now, there's a lot of different and unique ways Kebabs are served all around the world. The Wazwan way isn't any more complicated than the others and that is what this post will be about. This post will be about Lamb Kebabs but you can use Chicken or turkey as well as the procedure and other ingredients are the same.
The key ingredients for this dish are patience and commitment. The rest can be bought online or from your nearest supermarket.
Lamb boneless (usually from the leg of the lamb) - 500 grams
Lamb fat (usually from the lamb kidneys) - 100 grams
Zeera/cumin - 15 grams
Salt - to taste
Lal Mirch Powder/Red Chili powder - 1/2 tablespoon
Haldi/Turmeric - 1/2 tablespoon
Kaali Elaichi/Black cardamom 1/2
Kaali Mirch/ pepper corns - 7-8
Dhaniya powder/Coriander powder or Whole coriander/fresh cilantro/coriander - 1 tablespoon or half a bunch
Sonth Powder/dry ginger powder - less than 1/2 tablespoon
Egg Yolk - 1 (for binding)
Bowl of hot water - 300 ml
First off, lets put the lamb fat into hot water so that it becomes soft.
Using a meat grinder, slowly start grinding the meat and keep adding fat to it so that it blends evenly. You will see the color changing from red to slightly pink as the fat blends in.
If you don't have a meat grinder you can use a good, sharp knife, mincing the meat with a knife is the traditional way of doing it. it might take around 15-20 mins and you will get a coarse final product. If time is not your best friend then you can go for a blender as well but make sure you mix the fat in well, because it is the fat that will act as the carrier of flavour in our Kebabs.
Take a pan and dry toast the zeera/cumin, kaali elaichi/black cardamom, kali mirch/peppercorns and salt (The salt helps to extract out the water from the whole spices).
After the spices have been toasted and cooled, use a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar to make a powder out of them and keep aside.
Put the mince into a saucepan and slowly start adding your spices start with lal mirch/red chili powder, haldi/turmeric, sonth powder/dry ginger powder, coriander powder or whole coriander, powdered spices, salt and egg yolk. The saucepan has to be reasonably big, and must allow your hand to move in all possible directions.
This step is critical and will ultimately decide the taste and texture of your kebab. Using the lower part of the palm of your hand, knead the mince-dough for about 7-10 mins till you see the color changing from pink to something dark like cider and set it aside.
If you don't have good thick skewers or have bamboo/wood skewers, take 4 thin skewers and wrap 3-4 layers of aluminum foil over it.
Get the marinated mix and a bowl of water. Dip your hand in the water (to prevent sticking) and make a ball out of the mince. Carefully press the skewer through the ball and then cover the open end. Dip your hand again in the water and using the middle two fingers and thumb gently spread the ball on the skewer.
The traditional way is to chargrill the meat. But an oven would suffice if you don't have a barbeque setup. If you have neither, then make a patty and pan sear it, you have yourself an excellent patty for your burgers. Or, if you're not in the mood for a burger, then just follow my lead and enjoy it with some scotch; you can't go wrong with that ;-)
Do try and leave your comments and feel free to add anything you like.