The world loves kebabs, there is no denying that. After all, who can resist some tender grilled meat covered with spices that exude an enticing aroma that just demands to be savored? Not many, we bet!
What is even more interesting about kebabs is that they can’t be associated with a single country or culture. Their culinary influence spans from the Middle East to India to North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Moreover, though the popular notion is that kebabs are synonymous with spitted meat, the truth is that one can make mouth watering kebabs from vegetables and dairy products too. Ajay Chopra, Executive Chef of the Westin Mumbai Garden City debunks this and other myths about these wonderful nibbles.
Myth #1: You cannot cook kebabs without a sigree or tandoor.
Reality: Kebabs can be made in numerous ways and by using different cooking methods. You can use a heavy-duty grill pan or skillet
to make kebab or deep fry some variants like the Shammi Kebab. You can also use microwave ovens with convection and grill mode. I prefer an OTG (Oven Toaster & Grill) to a microwave, since the latter’s magnetic waves interfere with the moisture in the food making it dry and chewy.
Myth #2: Using anything other than a tandoor is compromising on its taste.
Reality: This is more of a dilemma than a myth. Cooking kebabs in a tandoor will give it a smoky flavor, which cannot be replicated in an oven or on a skillet. While there is no denying that a Tandoori Chicken cooked in a microwave on convection mode might not taste the same as when it is cooked in a tandoor, both taste equally good.
At the same time, if you use a cast iron skillet for a Galouti Kebab it will retain its authenticity since traditionally this is the cooking technique of the kebab. If you cook a Galouti Kebab in a tandoor it will lose its melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Myth #3: Any marinade can be used for just about any kebab.
Reality: Marinade is the most important element of a great tasting kebab other than its cooking technique. The most common mistake people make is either over-marination or under-marination of the kebab. People over-marinate thinking that it will give it more flavor and make the kebab softer.
Actually, this only makes the kebab mushy, robbing it of its texture. On the other hand if you under-marinate the kebab it will have no flavor and the meat will be tough, dry and stringy.
Myth #4: Marinate for a few minutes and cook the kebab. Simple.
Reality: On the contrary, it is important to marinate the kebabs twice. The first marinade is for exposing it to acid that penetrates the meat and makes it tender. For this, use ingredients like ginger and garlic with salt in the first marination, to allow the meat to have its own flavor.
The second marinade is equally important as it defines the kind of flavor and spices that should infuse within the kebab