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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.
In Lucknow’s Awadhi cuisine (which is heavily influenced by Mughal cooking), kebabs are cooked in a skillet, unlike Punjabi kebabs which are cooked in a tandoor.
These Shami kebabs are full of flavour, crispy on the outside and soft, smooth and silky inside. They can be made with goat meat, beef or a mixture of beef and lamb mince for a smoother texture.
Plan ahead to make these kebabs as the meat and lentils take a while to cook. It should take around 30-45 minutes, by which time the lentils should be soft. However, as I found out recently, if the lentils are old they will take nearly twice as long to soften! Also, allow time for the mixture to cool before forming into round patties and lightly frying.
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 lentils have 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. Serve warm.
Serve 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.
- 1/2 kg mince lamb * (1 pound)
- 1/2 kg mince beef * (1 pound)
- 1 cup split chickpea lentils (chana dal)
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 inches minced fresh ginger
- 2-3 cloves minced fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 3 cups warm water
- 2 finger green chillies, finely chopped adjust quantity according to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- mild olive oil or sunflower oil to shallow fry
- 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- Rinse and soak the lentils in water for at least 1 hour.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, on medium heat, add the drained lentils, 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 lentils 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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