Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chicken Sheekh Kabab

Back in the 1970s in Pune, Borawke’s KuKu Ch Koo was the god of all things tandoori. It is still by far the tastiest tandoori chicken I have tasted in Pune. The first KuKu Ch Koo, and the only one I have ever been to, is situated on the Deccan end of JM Road. Nestled cozily between two sugarcane juice bars and directly opposite the P.M.T. bus depot it is at a prime location for the Deccan junta. The restaurant is very basic in design. It consists of two structures. A solitary concrete room is the management office. A shed opposite to it, open on all sides, houses the tandoor ovens. The rest of the restaurant is open to sky with seating consisting of cracked granite squares placed on cinder blocks for tables and plastic chairs around it. Hey, why waste on d├ęcor if they keep returning? The only way to tell the waiters from the general customer was the indifferent attitude, as they didn’t really have any uniform. Actually, KuKu Ch Koo was always self-service but there were always a number of waiters hanging out not really doing anything. There is a strong aroma or tandoori spices in the air. Almost enough to over power omnipresent the scent of low-grade diesel smoke from the poorly maintained P.M.T. buses. However, a meal sandwiched between the tandoori smoke on one side and diesel smoke on the other was quite delightful. Yours truly was a bit late jumping on the tandoori wagon and till the ripe old age of 10 abhorred anything tandoori. During my family’s many visits to KuKu Ch Koo, of which there were quite a few, it was slim pickings for those who didn’t eat tandoori. However, a little roll of meat known as the Sheekh Kabab came to the rescue till I was ready to take a leap into the world of tandoori.

1lb Boneless Chicken Breast (Lean lamb can also be used)
1 tsp Garlic Paste
1 tsp Ginger Paste
3 tsp Coriander finely chopped
3/4 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Hungarian Paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Coarse grind the chicken in a food processor. Do not grind it too fine.
Mix all the above ingredients till it is a homogenous mixture and allow it to marinate for few hours
Make kababs by taking a handful of the paste and patting it on flat kabab skewers. (Flat skewers are easier and the meat stays on without much drama)
Grill the kababs on a conventional grill or broil in an oven brushing with oil and turning over to make both sides evenly cooked.
Serve over a bed of onion, tomatoes with a slice of lemon