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Shami Kebabs are a popular North Indian food, normally served as an appetizer or snack. They are full of flavour, crispy on the outside and soft, smooth and silky inside.
The Nawab of Oudh (18th Century), Asad ud Daula, is said to have been so fond of food that he commissioned the royal chefs to come up with a new dish everyday, and the Shami Kebab was one such creation. In a city proud of their kebabs, the bazaar cooks of Lucknow were known to make the best Shami Kebabs.
What are Shami Kebabs
They are small round patties, made of mince meat and lentils, which are lightly fried in beaten eggs. They are popular throughout the Indian subcontinent, eaten as an appetizer, a starter or a snack.
These Shami Kebabs are full of flavour, crispy on the outside and soft, smooth and silky inside.
What type of mince
These can be made using goat meat, beef or a mixture of beef and lamb mince for a smoother texture.
What is split chana?
This recipe uses split chana dal which is easily available in most Indian grocery shops or the Asian/World section of a supermarket isle.
Chana is the Indian term for brown chickpeas. They are smaller than Garbanzo beans (white chickpeas), and belong to the chickpea family. Split chana are yellow as their brown skin has been removed. While whole chickpeas require overnight soaking, split chickpeas only need a minimum of an hour soaking.
Tip: Make sure your lentils are good quality and fresh. As I found out recently, if the lentils are old they will take twice as long, if at all, to soften!
Making these kebabs
Give yourself plenty of time to make these kebabs. The meat and chickpea mixture should take around 30-45 minutes to cook, by which time the chickpeas should be soft. Then allow time for the mixture to cool before forming into round patties and lightly frying.
Kebabs made in a skillet
These kebabs are prepared in a large saucepan then lightly fried in a skillet.
In Lucknow’s Awadhi cuisine (which was heavily influenced by Mughal cooking), many kebabs are cooked in a skillet, whereas Punjabi kebabs are made in a tandoor oven.
To make in advance
As with many red meat dishes, these kebabs taste better if they are made some hours in advance, or even the day before. Once the mince and chickpea mixture has cooled, form into round patties, cover and keep in the fridge (or they can be frozen) till required. Before serving, coat the patties in the egg mixture and lightly fry till they turn golden.
How to serve it
Serve warm as an appetiser or snack wrapped in a warm roti with sliced raw onions, a squeeze of lemon (or lime) juice, and a spicy chutney.
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- 1/2 kg mince lamb * (1 pound)
- 1/2 kg mince beef * (1 pound)
- 1 cup split brown chickpeas (chana dal)
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 inches ginger minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 3 cups water warm
- 2 finger green chillies finely chopped, adjust quantity according to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1/2 cup cilantro/coriander leaves chopped
- 1/2 cup mint leaves chopped
- mild olive oil to shallow fry
- 3 medium eggs lightly beaten
- Rinse and soak the chickpeas in water for at least 1 hour.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, on medium heat, add the drained chickpeas, lamb, beef, salt, red chilli, gram masala, cumin, garlic, ginger and water and mix well.
- Cover and cook, on low heat, stirring occasionally, till the chickpeas are soft and the water has evaporated (approx. 45 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Blend till the mixture is smooth. It should be of a pâté consistency.
- Add the onion, green chillies, mint and cilantro (coriander) and mix well.
- Make balls the size of a golf ball from the mixture, and flatten to make round patties. Dip in the beaten eggs and shallow fry till they turn golden. Serve warm with a chutney.
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