Hyderabadi cuisine is a princely legacy of the Nizams of Hyderabad State with deep Turkish, Mughal and Arabic influences on the food. It is, therefore, rich, decadent and very refined. Even the ordinary day to day food is prepared as if a work of art is being created.
There are some recipes from South Asia that are seriously in danger of becoming extinct. Hyderabadi Kheema Lukhmi is one of them! Well, most of us even outside the region have at least heard of Hyderabadai biryani and haleem. Many, including me are big fans! Some of the more popular dishes from the Hyderabadai cuisine are commonly available on restaurant menus. But a few others like Shikampuri kebabs (a melt in the mouth variety of kebabs), Sheer Khurma (a rich and royal vermicelli dessert) and Lukhmi are delicacies that you can only find in homes on festive occasions now. There are a few families that have passed on and taken care of these treasures from getting erased with fast changing times.
What is a Lukhmi? It is everything that can satisfy a true food connoisseur – a snack that defies comparison! Spicy, tangy, herbilicious cooked lamb mince encased in a flaky, layered, crispy fried pastry. Lukhmi is a bite sized snack, hence the name ‘Lukhmi’ derived from the word Luqma or small bite. It is usually served as a starter in Hyderabadi festive occasions. It might appear to be a variation of samosa, another stuffed and deep fried pastry snack/street food from the region but the difference is really great and it becomes obvious as you bite into the crisp, fluffy yet still very light pastry of Lukhmi. You just cannot masquerade a samosa as Lukhmi.
The filling is traditionally made with lamb mince but you can also choose chicken or beef. Use as little oil as possible to cook Kheema/minced meat and cook it till it’s completely dry. Any excess liquid in the filling will make the pastry go soggy.
If making for a big gathering or Iftar, you can cook the minced meat ahead and freeze or refrigerate. You can also make the pastry dough, cover it in a plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a day or two.
For Lukhmi Pastry:
2 cups plain flour (maida)
1/2 cup semolina (suji)
4 tablespoon melted butter or ghee(clarified butter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Luke warm water
Vegetable oil for deep frying
For Lukhmi Filling:
1/2 kg chicken/lamb/beef mince
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
A few fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 green chilli peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
This Is What You Do:
First prepare the filling for Lukhmi. Heat oil in a pan, add onions and fry till golden.
Add ginger, garlic paste, salt and all the spices. Sauté for a few more seconds.
Add minced meat. Continue to fry till the mince changes colour. Reduce heat add a little water according to the meat you have chosen. Chicken will require very little water to get cooked, lamb and beef a little more.
Cover the pan and cook the mince till its done. Add lemon juice and cook another 4-5 minutes uncovered till all the liquid is evaporated (this is very important). Remove from heat. Add chopped coriander, mint and green chilli peppers. Set aside.
While the minced meat is cooking, we can prepare our pastry. In a large mixing bowl add flour, semolina and salt. Mix thoroughly.
Rub in the butter or ghee. Make a well in the centre and add water gradually. We are looking for a firm but elastic dough. Knead until the dough is smooth. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equall portions. Make dough balls.
Generously flour a work top. Flatten a dough ball onto the work top. Roll out a big, thin roti. Brush butter/ghee all over it. Fold it like an envelope. Roll out again.
Repeat this process two more times.
Cut 3 inch squares out of the rolled out dough. Fill 1 teaspoon of mince mixture in the centre. Brush the edges of the square with water. Cover it with another square or turn half of the triangle over the other half to make triangular pastry. Press the edges with a fork to seal completely.
Meanwhile heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan for deep frying. Add 2-3 prepared lukhmis to the hot oil. Fry till golden and puffed.
Drain on a sieve to get rid of extra oil. Never drain deep fried food on paper towel because that creates steam and makes the food go soggy.
Serve hot immediately with green mint/coriander chutney or dip of your choice.
Makes 16 lukhmis.