Tuesday, June 20, 2006

gola kebab

Gola kababs are incredibly soft and delicious, that is, if they are from a man known as Mian Sa'ab by food lovers of the Walled City.
We were talking about gola kababs one day when I was suddenly consumed by this galloping urge. In the middle of the conversation I felt like eating a fiery hot gola kabab. It was, of course, late at night, when all good kabab-sellers were gently snoring at home. So I drank some water and went quietly to bed, too. Tomorrow, I promised my whining stomach, tomorrow would be the day.

The next evening, when the sun showed signs of calling it a day, I set out from home. An hour - and a short drive, a metro ride and a rickshaw haul - later, I was in the Chitli Qabar area of Old Delhi, in search of my gola kabab-maker, known by food lovers as Mian Sa'ab. Now gola kababs are something out of this world. This is a kabab that is so soft that they need to bind it together with a twine of thread. And that is why, in some parts of the country, they call it a sutli kabab. There are not too many gola kabab-makers in the city any more. One of the more famous kababchis is Kala Baba - but he douses his kababs with chillies, which is why I try to avoid him these days.

Mian Sa'ab has his little barbeque spot right near a mosque opposite Dujana House. He sits there only in the evenings. If you start walking from Jama Masjid towards Chitli Qabar, you will find the mosque some 200 to 300 yards down the road. But his little place is so small that you can easily miss him. I would suggest that you keep your eyes and nostrils open when you go looking for him.

Incredibly soft

Gola kabas are incredibly soft - truly the melt-in-the-mouth kind. Made of buff, the meat is minced and beaten, mixed with all kinds of special masalas, put around the skewer and then tied together with a thread. Unlike, say, a seekh kabab which stays on a skewer, a gola kabab would disintegrate if you did not tie a twine around it. When it is put into a dona - along with slices of onions and a green chutney - it comes out as little dollops of kababs, and that, I suppose, explains the name. But the moment you touch it, it breaks into succulent little pieces.

A seekh of gola kabab costs Rs.2.50. I asked for 10 seekhs, got them packed and made for home. En route, I stopped by a nan-maker and got some rumalis. This is best eaten either on its own, or wrapped in a rumali. And, of course, it is heavenly if you eat it fresh off the seekh - it doesn't taste quite the same once it is cold. I asked Mian what he did to the kababs to make them so special. He just gave me a Sphinx-like smile. Trade secrets, said the smile, are best untold


somini said...

Rahul, Trying to reach you for a story I'm working on about street food and domesticated "street food." I've also been trying, in vain, to find the gola kebab you write of. Somini Sengupta, New York Times South Asia Bureau.
+91 11 2332 1965

Hill Goat said...

Found this blog by chance surfing for delhi and dora kababs, Che Chuchun! Very tasty, your blog. Mouthwatering.
But why not just paste your pieces on street food here too.

phantomlover said...

Heyy buddy.. JOEY here from Lucknow, am in Delhi right now. Would love to get some first-hand info from you regarding off-beat mughlai cuisine available in Delhi. Can we be in touch? My no is 9968074095. Cheers!!

phantomlover said...

BTW, your description of Gola Sutli kebabs remind of of PESHA KEBABS, sold in a shop in Nazirabad, Lucknow, many many moons ago.. The kebabs would be tikiyas, not seekhs, with a sutli skeleton, fried deep in tawas. Before eating, one would have to search for the sutlis end and pull it gently, wherein the kebab would disintegrate gently on the plate, to be eaten by roomalies. The shop is no longer in existence.

Anonymous said...

his name is fazaluddin kababfarosh.

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