Kakori Kebab

These minced lamb kebabs from Mughlai cook Salma Husain are enriched with kidney fat and sweetened with cloves - ideal to cook over a hot barbecue
By Gary Rhodes
Kakori Kebab
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Makes 20
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus marinating overnight
  • Effort: hard


For the kebabs

  • 125 g gram flour
  • 1 kg lamb, very finely minced
  • 125 g cashew nuts
  • 150 g lamb kidney fat
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp white poppy seeds
  • 4 tbsp onion paste, (see recipe)
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 11/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground white peppercorns
  • 125 g raw papaya, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp dried rose petal, crumbled, (optional)
  • 1 tsp strands saffron
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 75 g ghee or clarified butter, plus 1 tbsp for basting

For the onion paste

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • oil, for deep-frying
  • 50 ml warm water

For the saffron milk

  • pinch saffron
  • 2 tbsp warm milk

To serve

  • 1 onion, cut into rings
  • lemon wedges


1. For the onion paste: sprinkle the onions liberally with salt and leave on one side for around 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep pan or wok and fry the sliced onions in batches. When they turn deep golden, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

3. Tip the onions into a food processor; pour in the warm water and process until a smooth paste. Set aside.

4. For the saffron milk: put the saffron in a small bowl and pour over the warm milk. Bruise the strands slightly with the back of a teaspoon and set aside for about 20 minutes or longer. Chill in the fridge - this will be brushed over the kebabs as they cook.

5. For the kebabs: heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat and add the gram flour. Stirring constantly, cook the gramflour until you catch a nutty aroma - this should take about 30 seconds. Tip it onto a plate and leave to cool.

6. Put the lamb mince, kidney fat, cashew nuts, onion, poppy seeds and browned onion paste in a food processor and blend to a completely smooth paste. Tip into a mixing bowl and add the cloves, cardamon, chilli powder, white pepper, papaya, nutmeg, mace and rose petals. Season with a little salt. Knead until the mixture becomes sticky. Add the cooled gram flour, saffron, rose water and ghee. Mix very well until fully incorporated. Chill the mixture overnight.

7. The next day, divide the mixture into twenty equal-sized pieces and with wet hands mould around metal skewers in a thin sausage shape. Cook under a pre-heated grill (highest temperature) or over a barbecue for 2-4 minutes until cooked through. Baste with melted ghee and saffron milk as they cook.

8. Serve with onion rings and lemon wedges.

About Salma Husain
Salma Husain is a food historian who focuses on the royal kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. Salmas work includes translating recipes from ancient Persian manuscripts and bringing them to modern day India. She is currently writing a book about the cuisine, history and culture of the Indian city Lucknow.

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