The Lamb Kebab at the Devi in Montreal featured Lamb marinated and grilled with a complex spice blend. It deserved a 5 out of 5 Rating.
This dish was described on the appetizer menu current at the time as ‘Boti Kebab’, which didn’t actually mean anything to me at the time. I recognized the word ‘Kebab’, of course, and since the menu described this as being a Lamb dish, I wondered if ‘Boti’ possibly meant lamb in some Indian dialect or other. It turns out, though, that this is not the case.
There are, it seems, two different forms of ‘Boti Kebab’ on the sub-continent. The first of these is a specialty of Bagladeshi cuisine which features spiced ground lamb that is formed into a sausage-like cylinder before grilling. The Devi version clearly was not that.
The other ‘Boti Kebab’ is a specialty of Lucknow and involves chunks of meat, either Lamb, Mutton, Chicken, or Beef, which are marinated in Yoghurt, Garlic, Ginger, and Chili, along with Garam Masala and other spices. At Devi, the menu described their ‘Boti Kebab’ as being marinated in Yoghurt and seasoned with Garam Masala, so it would seem that their version Lamb done in the Lucknow style.
As you can see, the Lamb, in very generous chunks, was served with a small side salad, which was dressed in a light vinaigrette and pleasant, if unremarkable. There was also a Cucumber Raita on the side as a ‘cool-down’ but I didn’t much bother with it. I am not terribly fond of raw Yoghurt and the Kebab was not especially hot so the usual cooling effect of this condiment seemed a little superfluous to me.
There was clearly a little more than the Garam Masala mentioned in the menu used to marinate and season the lamb in this dish. There was a very slight touch of chili, just enough to add a little sparkle of heat, and there also seemed to be a hint of mint. There were tiny flecks of something dark green on the meat and this may well have been dried mint leaf. Whatever else was used, the spice combination here was well-balanced and deftly applied.
The most surprisingly pleasing aspect of this dish was the grilling job. Indian cuisine tends to favor meats that are cooked to extreme tenderness. Well-done is the overwhelming rule, with even medium-rare being so ‘rare’ as to barely be an exception. Here, though, the meat was still slightly pink in the center, which left it with a lovely, chewy bite while still being tender. Along with the aromatic spiciness of the marinade and seasoning this made the Lamb Kebab at the Devi one of the better lamb dishes I have had in an Indian Restaurant.