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Tried & Tasted: This weekend, try the best kakori kebab you’ll find in Delhi

Alkauser,a kebab outlet on Kautilya Marg, offers the most scrumptious kakori kebabs you can get in the Capital. And there is a delightful story behind its origin.

tried and tasted Updated: Sep 03, 2017 10:28 IST
Rahul Verma
The owners of Alkausar say that the recipe for Al Kakori – as they call it – has been in the family for four generations.
The owners of Alkausar say that the recipe for Al Kakori – as they call it – has been in the family for four generations.(HT Photo)

Food stories – imagined or otherwise – are always interesting. The legend of the nawab of Kakori, a former principality close to Lucknow, is one of my favourites. The story may be apocryphal but it has all the ingredients that make for a good tale – there is royalty, loyalty and food involved in it.

The story goes that the nawab had lost his teeth but not his zest for good food. He liked his mutton but to his dismay found that he could no longer chew it. So his retinue of bawarchis decided that something had to be cooked that the nawab could eat and enjoy. And they came up with a kabab that was so soft and moist that it literally melted in his mouth. The nawab loved it, showered his blessings (and I hope several gold coins) on the cooks, and a new kebab was born – called the kakori.

The story is a bit different at Alkauser, a kebab outlet in Delhi that most residents of the city swear by. The owners say that the recipe for Al Kakori – as they call it – has been in the family for four generations. Sometime in the late 19th century, a man in Lucknow called Nabbu Mian started making and selling these kebabs which soon became the talk of the town. Now, his great grandson, Chef Ashfaq Ahmed, runs the business – and legend has it that he uses the same recipe that the grand old man had evolved.

Alkauser says that they use 52 spices for the kebab. I have no way of checking the veracity of that, but what I do know is that the kebabs are among the best you can get in the city. Not surprisingly, the small stall on Kautilya Marg does brisk business. And it has a loyal clientele, which keeps returning to Alkauser for its kebabs –kakori, tikkas and galouti.

I remember the place came up some time in the mid-seventies. It shut shop for a while but has more or less been feeding people for the last four decades or so. Over the years, they have added more items to the menu. They have biryanis and kormas, as well as rolls and vegetarian grills.

Some people believe that Tundey kababchi of Lucknow – a man so named because he was one-armed – made the best galouti in the country. Tundey died long years ago, but a great many shops opened up in Delhi which were said to be the unofficial branches of India’s best known kabab counter.

But I think Nabbu Mian’s recipe – with all its 52 spices -- for kakori deserves a standing ovation, too. The kebab was wonderfully smooth and soft, and tasted so good that I longed to go back for seconds. The galouti, a small tender patty of minced meat, shallow fried on low heat, was delectable, and reminded me that Awadhi dishes – such as kakori and galouti kebabs – can be so rich, yet so light.

Thank you for the kebab, Mian.