Lucknowi Galouti Kebab

The Awadhi cuisine of modern day Uttar Pradesh is unapologetically rich and complex, both in flavour and history. Originally conceived in the Nawabi kitchens of Lucknow, these kebabs take some amount of time and effort to cook. 

But we’ve provided below step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, to make this a fairly manageable project. Attempt these this weekend - get your friends and family involved and make a fun activity of it! 


Makes 18-20 kebabs


350 grams keema (minced mutton), ground 3 times to a fine consistency

1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 1⁄2 tablespoons raw papaya with skin, ground to a paste


For Dry Masala

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)

1 teaspoon coriander seeds (sabut dhaniya)

2 green cardamom pods

4 dried red chillies

3 cloves (laung)

1 black cardamom pod (badi elaichi), broken, seeds to be used

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon powder (dalchini)

1⁄4 teaspoon mace powder (javitri)

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg powder (jaiphal)


For Masala Paste

3 tablespoons roasted cashew nuts

3 tablespoons roasted charoli (chironji)

200 grams onions, (about 2 medium onions), finely sliced and fried till crispy

1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper powder

3 tablespoons roasted gram flour (roasted besan)

1 tablespoon thick cream

1 tablespoon kewra water

1⁄2 onion, peeled in layers to form a cup

ghee, for smoking and frying

3 green chillies, fresh, slit in half, to garnish

100 grams onions, (about 2 medium onions), sliced in thin rounds, to garnish


In a bowl, thoroughly mix the minced meat/keema, salt, and raw papaya paste until well comboned. Set aside to marinate for 2 hours.

Next, prepare the dry masala. Toss cumin seeds, coriander seeds, green cardamom pods, dried red chillies, cloves, black cardamom seeds, cinnamon powder, mace powder, and nutmeg powder into a masala grinder or a small food processor. Grind to a fine consistency and set aside.

To make the wet masala paste, place roasted cashew nuts, roasted chironji, fried onion, garam masala, black pepper powder, roasted gram flour (roasted besan), dry masala powder, thick cream, and kewra water in a grinder or food processor; Grind to make a smooth paste, adding 2 to 4 tablespoons water as needed.

Add the wet masala paste to the marinated keema and mix thoroughly with a spatula. Tip mixture into a casserole dish (or any other wide bottomed dish with a tight-fitting lid), and spread it evenly. Create a “hole” or gap in the center of the mixture with the spatula.

Next, to infuse the keema with that signature smokiness of galouti kebabs, place an onion layer (cup shaped) in the center gap.

Place a smouldering hot piece of charcoal onto the onion and pour 2 tsp ghee onto the charcoal. It will start smoking; immediately cover the dish tightly with the lid and set aside for 30 minutes. 

After 30 mins, open the dish and remove the onion and coal carefully. Transfer the keema mixture into a bowl and mix well. 

Lightly oil your palms so that you can work with the mixture without it sticking to your hands. Break off a small chunk of the mixture, roll into a ball between your palms, then flatten slightly to form a smooth fat disk. Set it down and repeat the same for the remaining mixture. 

Place a heavy pan on high heat; add ghee. Once hot but not smoking, carefully place the kebabs in the ghee without crowding the pan. Fry the kebabs till golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side, adjusting heat as needed. 

Remove from pan and place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot with green chutney, onion slices, and a soft paratha.

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