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
Shami kebabs are small round patties made of mince meat and chickpeas, lightly fried in beaten eggs.
They are popular throughout the Indian subcontinent, mostly enjoyed as an appetiser, starter or snack.
These shami kebabs are super popular as they have great flavour and texture, being crispy on the outside with a soft and silky smooth interior.
What type of mince
These can be made using goat meat, chicken, beef or a mixture of beef and lamb mince for a smoother texture.
The red meat should have some fat content so the kebabs remain moist and do not fall apart.
If using lean mince or make chicken shami kebabs, mix in an extra beaten egg to help keep the shape.
What is split chana?
This recipe uses yellow split peas or 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 chickpeas. They are smaller than Garbanzo beans or white chickpeas.
Split peas are yellow as their brown skin has been removed.
While whole chickpeas require overnight soaking, split peas only require one hour minimum soaking to soften during the cooking process.
Tip: Make sure your split peas are good quality and fresh. I found out recently if they are old stock they will take twice as long to soften, if at all!
Making these kebabs
Give yourself plenty of time to make these kebabs.
The mince and split pea mixture should take around 30-45 minutes to cook, by which time the split peas should have softened.
Blend the mixture to a paste for a silky smooth interior.
Allow time for the mixture to cool before forming into round patties, then dip in egg wash and lightly fry.
Kebabs made in a skillet
The mixture for shami kebabs is first cooked in a large saucepan. It is then mixed with fresh ingredients and shaped into round patties before dipping in egg wash then lightly frying on either side in a skillet.
Keep the kebabs apart while cooking so they are easy to flip and cook evenly.
Interesting fact: In Lucknow’s Awadhi cuisine (which was heavily influenced by Mughal cooking), kebabs are mostly cooked in a skillet, whereas Punjabi kebabs are usually cooked on skewers in a tandoor oven.
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 split pea mixture has cooled, shape into round patties, cover and keep in the fridge (or they can be frozen) till required.
Before serving coat the patties in the egg wash and lightly fry on either side till golden.
How to serve
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Cooking the mince
- ½ kilo mince lamb * or 1 pound, with fat
- ½ kilo mince beef * or 1 pound, with fat
- 190 grams yellow split peas or 1 cup (chana dal)
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 inches ginger chopped small
- 2-3 cloves garlic chopped small
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 700 mls warm water 3 cups
Add to cooked meat mixture
- 2 whole birds eye green chillies finely chopped, adjust quantity according to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion diced small
- 8 grams cilantro/coriander leaves ½ cup, chopped roughly
- 5 grams mint leaves 3 tablespoons, chopped roughly
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- vegetable oil to shallow fry
Cooking the mince
- 190 grams yellow split peasRinse and soak the yellow split peas in water till fully submerged for at least 1 hour.
- ½ kilo mince lamb *, ½ kilo mince beef *, 190 grams yellow split peas, 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 tablespoon garam masala, 2 inches ginger, 2-3 cloves garlic, 700 mls warm water, salt and pepper, 2 teaspoons cumin powderIn a heavy bottomed saucepan, on medium heat, add the drained split peas, mince, salt, red chilli, gram masala, cumin, garlic, ginger and water and mix well.
- Cover and cook, on low heat, stirring occasionally, till the split peas soften and the water has evaporated (approx. 45 minutes). The mixture should be moist. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Blend the mixture to a smooth paste, cover and set aside to cool down enough to touch.
Add to Mixture
- 2 whole birds eye green chillies, 1 medium onion, 5 grams mint leaves, 8 grams cilantro/coriander leavesAdd the onion, green chillies, mint and cilantro (coriander leaves), and mix well.
- Shape into balls (size of a golf ball) and flatten to make round patties.
- 3 large eggs, vegetable oilCoat each patty in the beaten egg mix then lightly fry on either side till golden. Serve warm with a green chutney.
- Cooking time for yellow split peas can vary depending on its age. Select fresh split peas as old stock may take nearly twice as long to cook.
- *If using goat meat, use 1 kg goat mince.
- The red meat should have some fat content so the kebabs remain moist and do not fall apart.
- If using lean mince or for chicken shami kebabs, mix in an extra beaten egg to help keep the shape.
- Store leftovers in a sealed container and keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
The ingredients here on EOTF are set out in grams & milliliters and in US cups & spoons.