The secret and the real tale behind Galawat kebabs

A hundred and sixty spices in one dish! Sounds like more than one can take. But when a spoonful of the dish reaches our mouth it’s a melting moment. It is not an ice cream but a kebab and yet it melts. That’s what the Galawat Kebab is famous for. And as the Galawat vanishes, all one can think of is, ‘but where are all the 160 spices?’

Mohammed Usman, a tall burly man, dressed in a white cotton Lucknawi Chikan kurta smiles. Mohammed Usman is the third generation of a Lucknow family to have made the Galawat so popular. But the man in his 60s credits everything to his great grandfather who despite the handicap of having only one arm, decided to master the Galawat kebab. “My great grandfather had one arm. He lost his arm while flying kites and at the time since there were no proper doctors his arm was amputated in a crude manner which left him bleeding and sick. He was very fond of kebabs that he had seen his forefathers make at home. Since he couldn’t skewer meat with one hand, he decided on doing something that can be done with a single hand. From him came the name ‘Tunday’ and since then we have been known as Tunday Kebabi. ‘Tunday’ means one arm and with that one arm he would make kebabs and feed the hungry,” recollects Usman.

Usman is in the city for a special kebab fest at the Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre for the Awadhi Food festival and says he last came to this city of Nawabs in the late 70s. Usman and the tounday kebabs are famous not just for their taste but for the scores of Indian celebs they attract. Usman fondly reels out names of film actors who love frequenting their joint. “Anupam Kher is a foodie and is like a child around the kitchen. He is impatient and wouldn’t wait to be served on a plate. He likes it straight from the pan,” laughs Usman.

Usman is also a shayar, loves spouting shayari as he talks about food and all the good things of life. He says, despite their name and famethey love to keep their prices low so that they can cater to as many customers as they can. “When God has not imposed taxes on all the good things which he has given us for free, who are we charge extra to a hungry man. Charges should be just sufficient so that both buyer and seller can be happy,” adds Usman.

Usman who would be showcasing a variety of kebabs for the fest also talks about the vegetarian variety and the Lucknawi Biryani.

The legend that runs in Usman’s family about the Galawat is that the spices and the combination were revealed to his great grandfather by a fakir. “Since his hand wasn’t curing, he met a fakir under a tree who suggested he make a combination of the said ingredients and eat anything cooked in it. Once he recovered he wanted to share the goodness of the blessing and inculcated the recipe in his kebabs,” says Usman.

So how is the Galawat best had? “Once on the table, wrap it up on the ulta tawa ka paratha and let it disappear mysteriously,” he smiles.