One fine evening in early 2006, I got this sudden urge where I craved for the Bihari kabab at 9:00 p.m. By 9:15 I found myself sitting in the car and driving towards a famous desi restaurant in Hayward, California. The restaurant closes at 10 p.m and I managed to reach there just in time. I ordered a plate of Bihari kabab. The owner who was a novice in customer service looked at me with such eyes as if saying couldn’t you have come earlier.
There was another gentleman waiting for his order besides me. At 10:05 p.m. the owner looked at me with a food bag in his hand, placed it on the counter and disappeared somewhere.
As the owner had looked at me before placing the food on the counter, so I picked it up and went to the car. Inside the car, I opened the box and found chicken kababs instead. For few seconds I thought may be it is Bihari kabab made from chicken. After all, these days one can find chicken nihari sold at restaurants too.
But very soon I heard some running steps approaching me and then I found two restaurant employees looking searchingly inside my car. One of them pointed towards my food and asked:
‘bhai sahab, kiya ye murghi hai? (O brother, is this chicken?)
To which I replied:
‘ji-haaN ye murghi hai’ (Yes it is chicken)
Apparently, I had picked up the wrong order. When I went back in I heard the owner shouting in Punjabi:
Oyay kukRi kithay nus gayee eh? (Where has the chicken ran?)
When I gave him his lost kukRi (Punjabi word for chicken) he again looked at me angrily. His looks were like a street shopkeeper who makes a poor customer feel humble first and then sell what he needs. He said:
‘pai-jaan, daNkRa chuk ke vekh te lehnday’
(Brother you should have lifted the lid to see what’s inside first).
Then there was some acrimonious exchange of dialogs between us. It was quite an interesting experience. His arguments were in Punjabi and mine in Urdu. but we still understood eachother. Finally he realized that he was losing a customer fast so after both of us had cooled down a bit, he brought me a free plate of haleem (a dish made of minced meat and lentils) and said:
‘koi baat naee ji, jadhoN bhukh bohti lagi howay te ainj ho hi jaanda eh’
(Don’t worry, when one is too hungry then things likethis happen)
Finally my Bihari Kabab got ready at 10:10 p.m. and they were as tasty as ever. It was interesting to note that owners of this restaurant are Punjabi speaking but they make the best Bihari kabab in town.
As the name implies, Bihari Kabab originated from the Bihar province of India. It is said that in Pakistan the Bihari Kabab was introduced from the Orangi Town area of Karachi. According to residents, Juma Khan was the first person to start serving this special item, which is now a popular favourite throughout the country. Juma has been selling these Kababs since he migrated to Orangi in 1973 and started his shop at Rehmat Chowk in sector 11.5 of the Orangi town. His specialty item Kabab and Puri gained the epithet Behari Kababs referring to Juma KhanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Behari origin. Although some parts of Orangi have unwillingly gained the reputation of being a slum, it is still the home of the original taste of Behari Kababs, which attracts people from every corner of the city. They all travel to Rehmat Chowk wishing to taste the specialty item cooked by the very hands that invented it. With time, JumaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Behari Kababs grew in popularity, spreading across the entire Karachi area, and have now become one of the most integral menu items on food-spreads at gatherings.
For our readership who would like to delve into this culinary delight, here is a time tested recipe’ for Bihari Kabab. Note the use of papaya in the recipe’ below is the key to success.
Beef pasanday (filets) 1/2 kilo
Unripe papaya (grinded) 2 tbs
Ginger paste 1 tsp
Garlic paste 1 tsp
Salt according to taste
Yogurt 2 tbs
Chili powder 1 tsp
Chopped green chilies 1tbs
Oil 1 tbs
Mix together all the spices and yogurt and papaya and coat the beef with it. Leave to marinate for 5-6 hours preferably overnight. Then barbeque over charcoal or you can bake it in an oven.
ae lo! mazay-daar bihari kabab tayyaar haiN. baji-ji bismilah, bhai-sahab aap bhi bismilah
(lo-behold, super tasty Bihari Kababs are ready. Ladies and gentlemen, bon apetite)