A kebab dish, invented by a one-armed chef for a toothless king in 17th-century India, has been delighting food connoisseurs in Dubai since the opening of a restaurant by descendants of the masterful cook.
Tunday, a nickname for the one-armed chef Haji Murad, witnessed its first international branch opening in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) in June this year.
Mohammad Rizwan, one of the culinary maestro's heirs, explained, "Dubai is a global culinary hub. What better place could there be to carry on the legacy of our forefather."
But, the eatery wasn't established on a whim.
"For months, we conducted extensive market research and food tastings to faithfully recreate the same authentic taste in Dubai. I'm glad everything fell into place," said Rizwan, who frequently shuttles between Dubai and Lucknow, the birthplace of Tunday Kababi in 1905, where, after more than a century, the shop still stands sturdy in its original structure.
Tunday Kababi was recently ranked 12 on the Taste Atlas's List of the World's Most Legendary Restaurants.
So, what is it that makes the eatery so special?
"Our galouti kebabs melt in the mouth like a symphony of flavours and tenderness, leaving a lingering impression that's simply unforgettable," said Shahid Siddiqui, who, along with his partners, brought the gastronomic concept to Dubai.
How it all started
The story of Tunday's origin is fascinating, dating back to the 17th century during the reign of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, who ruled the erstwhile state of Avadh in northern India and was passionate about food. As age caught up with him and he began losing his teeth, he refused to give up his love for kebabs which were chewy and coarse until then.
A contest was set up, and it was declared that the creator of the softest and most tender kebabs would enjoy royal patronage. The competition led to the birth of the world-famous galouti kebabs. Cooks from all around competed, but it was Haji Murad Ali who emerged as the winner.
There's also a popular story about how these kebabs got their name, Tunday ke kebab. Haji Murad Ali had only one arm, having lost his left arm in a childhood accident while flying a kite. In the local vernacular, anyone with a hand disability is referred to as "tunday". Thus, the kebabs he crafted became known as Tunday ke kebabs.
Rizwan said they are more than just a restaurant. "Tunday is an institution, a culinary tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation."
The recipe for their kebabs continues to be a well-kept secret. "It remains with the women in the family," said Rizwan. "Among other things, it comprises around 160 spices in a unique ratio to give the kebabs their matchless flavour and texture."
Shahid said he's overwhelmed by the response to the restaurant, with people from across all nationalities coming to savour the tantalising taste. "We've had families coming from as far as Abu Dhabi and Fujairah."
Tunday Kababi offers a wide range of North Indian delicacies, including mutton biryani, korma, and shahi tukda. However, the centrepiece is the kebab – finely ground minced meat served with parathas or sheermall, a soft orange bread baked in an oven with milk.
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