LUCKNOW: Raees Ahmad, who carried forward over a century-old legacy of ‘Tunday Kababs’, passed away in Lucknow on Friday.
He was close to 90, according to his family members, and suffered a cardiac arrest on Friday evening.
It was his father Haji Murad Ali, who brought the 100-herb, melt-in-mouth ‘galawati’ kabab recipe from the royal palace of Bhopal to the streets of Lucknow in the 1900s.
Starting from a tiny shop in the present-day Old City in 1905, the aroma and taste of his succulent kababs started ruling over gustatory senses of people.
His brand became popular as ‘Tunday’ as Haji Murad Ali was a one-armed (‘tunda’) man, having lost the other arm in an accident while flying a kite.
Haji Raees Ahmad was a worthy successor of Murad Ali.
While carrying the onerous burden of his father’s reputation, he never compromised on quality.
“He would warn everyone in the family and the workers against the slightest compromise on quality or taste,” says his son Usman Ahmad.
No wonder, he only added to Murad Ali’s fame and also inherited the sobriquet.
And more than the spices, which always remained a closely guarded secret, it was the aroma of his ‘love for Lucknow’ that wafted across the world.
He declined citizenship of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so that he was not deprived of his beloved birthplace.
“In 1958, when he was in Mecca for Haj, an aromatic drift of the food he was cooking in his camp caught the fancy of a governor of the kingdom who was passing by,” shared Usman Ahmad, the third generation ‘Tunday Kababi‘.
“A taste of his cooking impressed the official so much that he offered the master chef upfront the citizenship of the holy land. But Haji saheb begged to decline the offer, saying he loved Lucknow too much to even think about leaving it,” he adds.
Like his father Murad Ali, selling kababs was not a business, but a means to feed people for Raees. “We have never believed in earning huge profits. That’s why we keep our prices affordable to even the poorest of people,” he once told this reporter.
“Our earnest tribute to him would be to continue giving the same satiety and delight to our patrons as he always wanted,” says Usman Ahmad. “It was the love of the people for him that despite his years, Haji Raees Ahmad was as conscious and alive on his last day as all who knew him would remember,” he adds.

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