Stick ‘Em Up
The act of grilling meats on skewers taps into our most primitive nature, harkening back to when man first discovered the blessed union of fire and meat. It’s also a great excuse to gather a few friends for a summertime backyard feast. Grilled and skewered meats come by many different monikers. They may be named kababs in India, kebob or kabob in the Middle East, brochette in France, or yakitori in Japan.
For Chef Meherwan Irani, kababs are a cornerstone of his culinary history. “I grew up in a meat-loving family,” says Irani, who’s of Parsi descent. “But kababs were not eaten at home—they were found on the street at carnivals and nighttime celebrations.” Irani remembers a distinct transformation of the streets in India when the sun went down. That’s when the Indian grills, or sigris, would come out and burn under the cover of night, perfuming the air with the heady scent of smoke, spices, and meat. Such is the inspiration for Botiwalla, his concept inside the Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia. Similar to his first restaurant Chai Pani (with locations in Asheville, North Carolina, and Decatur, Georgia), which honors the fried street snacks of India known as chaat, here Irani pays homage to the nighttime street delicacies.