Deep in the midst of Lucknow Chowk, beyond the donkey carts and men with their piles of saffron naans, is Tunday Kebabs. It serves one of India’s most prized kebabs, the stuff of legend. The story goes that it was created by a one-armed man, Haj Murad Ali, for a toothless Mughal ruler over 100 years ago to melt in the mouth and relieve the king of any awkward public dining situations. Although this isn’t a recipe for that actual kebab, it is my recipe for the closest vegetarian version.
These kebabs are delicate, with a crisp charcoal exterior and a marshmallow-soft center, so be gentle while you’re making them. Lovely with hot naan , a salad like my leaves, herbs, and curds, and cucumber and mint raita .

Makes 18 | Serves 6

1¼ pounds raw beets
½ pound soft paneer, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1¾-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Indian green chiles, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
1½ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons chickpea flour
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 egg
canola oil

Trim the beets, place in a pan of cold water on a medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook until tender and a knife slides easily through them. Depending on their size, this could take from 40 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and leave to cool, then slip the skins off using your fingers or the back of a knife (wear rubber gloves if you don’t fancy having pink hands for the rest of the day). Mash the beets as finely as you can.
Pop the beet mash into a frying pan over a medium heat and stir-fry for around 5 minutes. Add the paneer, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, green chiles, garam masala, and salt, and stir for another couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the chickpea flour and cilantro, and mix really well. Leave the mixture to cool down, then add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Lay a sheet of wax paper or foil on a flat surface. Take an egg-sized bit of mixture, roll into a ball, then flatten it into a patty around 2½ inches in diameter. Place on the foil and repeat with the rest of the mixture to make 18 kebabs in total.
Put a teaspoon of oil into a non-stick frying pan on a high heat. When hot, add 4 kebabs and fry for around 1½ minutes on one side. Turn and fry for another 1½ minutes, or until crispy. Repeat with the rest, then transfer to a serving plate with some cucumber and mint raita and hot naan.