Bihari Kebab Masala

My parents, my brother and I would spend the summer vacation with our family in Bihar, as well as our Eid and Bakhrid vacations. It was kind of a ritual for us. Summer vacations were all about the fruit, the mangoes and litchis, while Eid and Bakhrid were all about the food.

My favourite dish used to be kebabs and biryani. The flavour of Bihari Kebab is quite distinct. It’s only after I moved to Delhi that I learned the difference  between boti and seekh kebab, but otherwise for us, it was just the standard boti kebab. Bihari kebab is usually spicy, marinated in raw papaya paste, and grilled to perfection on an open flame.

When the Masterchefs of our house, my mother and my aunts used to make kebabs, we kids would be busy playing ludo and monopoly. But then we’d realise food was ready and all of us cousins would sit beside the fire and get the servings first. There was no questions asked about that, we would always be the first ones to eat. We would stuff ourselves with kilos of kebabs before the others joined in, enjoying them with raw onion and vinegar or lemon juice.

Today, on 20th May, we are celebrating Masala Day and I thought I would share with all of you this amazingly simple masala that signifies the quintessential Bihari kebab and is a relic of my childhood– it can be prepared in advance and then used as per the occasion or convenience.

Mothers usually eyeball the quantity but I do understand that often we just want to try new dish and “andaaz se” is something we don’t want and hence I am putting up the exact measurement of all the spices. This also gives me an opportunity to talk about my roots, dishes and spices I grew up with. Bihari dishes aren’t only about Litti Chokha but there’s more to it.

Ingredients Quantity
Base Masala
Chana Daal/Sattu (Yellow Lentils) 2 tablespoon
Cumin 1 tablespoon
Poppy seeds 1 tablespoon
Black pepper 1 tablespoon
kabab Cheni powder 1/2 tablespoon
Black Cardamom (Badi Elaichi) 2
Cinnamon ½ inch
Cloves 8-10
Top up
Salt 1 ½ tablespoon (or to taste)
Raw Papaya Paste (meat tenderizer powder) 2 tablespoon
Red Chili Powder 1 ½ teaspoon
paprika (degi mirch) 1 teaspoon

How to cook cook cook!

  1. Dry roast all the base masalas in a hot skillet. Ensure that nothing is burnt. Roast till they give you a nice aroma.
  2. Transfer it in a mortal and pestle and grind them to a fine  powder. You can use a mixer grinder as well.
  3. Transfer this base masala in to a clean and bowl and mix it up with top up. Your marinade is ready.
  4. You can use this marinade in any kind of meat, leave it for 5-7 hour before grilling it on a grill, hot skillet, or oven.


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