Thursday, 4 April 2013

Pakistani Shami Kebabs

We Pakistanis love various types of kebabs in our food. Shami Kebabs being one example which is served with almost any main course on Pakistani dinner table. Be it with Daal Chawal, with paratha achaar, as Shami Kebab sandwich, with Peas or chicken Pulao or with afternoon tea. In some way directly or indirectly, Shami Kebabs have been an integral part of our favorite home cooked meals. 

These kebabs used to be part of my school lunchbox for the longest of time and was simply known as shami kebab sandwich.  Now, even when i prefer potato cutlets over shami kebabs any given day, I still love having shami kebabs with specific home cooked meals and there are rare days when my freezer is not stocked with them. My better half is a happy man the day his dinner comprises of a simple pea pulao and shami kebab or a plain old shami kebab sandwich.

Shami Kebabs take us back to our homes and kitchens where we grew up. I do agree these are labor intensive delectables that require a bit of time, but they are deeply satisfying and authentically Pakistani. Follow the pictures and it will be easy peasy!

Ingredients: Phase 1:
Beef Mince – 1 ½ kg
Chickpea lentil – ¾ cup (soaked overnight)
Onions – 2 Large (chopped)
Ginger – 2 Inches chopped
Garlic – 10-12 cloves
Cumin – 1 tsp heaped
Whole Coriander (crush in pastel Mortar) – 1 tsp heaped
Black Cardamom – 3-4
Whole Dry red chilies -6-8
Cinnamon - 4 sticks 1 inch each
Cloves – 10-12
Black Peppercorns – 15-20
Salt – 1 ½ tsp (adjust according to taste)
Water – 500 mil
Ingredients - Phase 2:
Eggs – 4 Large
Mint – 1 cup chopped
Fresh Coriander – 2 cups chopped
Green Chilies – 6-8 whole
Fresh Ginger - 2 inches

  1. In a large sieve/ colander put 3-4 layers of kitchen paper or a layer of Chiffon cloth and place minced beef in it. Put it under running water for 3-4 minutes to clean it up. I cannot cook minced meat without washing it and find it rather bothersome when old aunties and grannies cook minced meat without washing it. Let the mince sit for half an hour so the excess water drains out. The minced beef will have a slightly different color. Now it is ready to be cook. You will also need a food processor for making Shami Kebabs.
  2. In a large pan add the minced beef, chickpea lentil(soaked overnight),salt,  all dry spices, chopped onions, ginger, garlic, Whole red chilies along with 500 ml of water.
  3. Put it on high heat to boil. Once it boils for the first time, lower the heat to medium. The aim is to cook the lentils which will take about 40 minutes. Once lentils are cooked, increase the heat to dry up the water completely.
  4. Let this mixture cool completely in a large mixing bowl.
  5. In a food processor add half of the prepared minced meat mixture; add 2 eggs, 3 green chilies, half ginger, half of mint and half of chopped fresh coriander. Mix it till it becomes fine but you can still see small coriander and mint leaves.  Transfer it in to a large mix bowl.
  6. Now add the 2nd batch to the food processor along with 2 eggs, rest of the green chilies, mint, ginger and coriander. Mix it. Remove from the food processor once finely done and add to the rest of the mixture.
  7. Mix the two batches thoroughly with your (gloved) hand or spatula. Remove the cinnamon sticks and black cardamoms. They will still be chunky and easier to fish out of the mixture.
  8. It’s a good idea to shallow fry one small pattie to check the salt and chilies proportion. Once fried, let the pattie cool down and then taste it. Adjust as per need by adding more salt and red or green chopped chilies.
  9. Leave the mixture to sit in the fridge for 5-6 hours so it becomes firm to make kebab patties. 
  10. After 6 hours, make kebabs by making small meat balls in your hand. Oil your hands to make the kebabs. Press the meat balls in to the shape of a pattie. Ensure the corners are perfectly round by rolling them on a plate.
  11. Put them in a freezer safe box with a lid. Separate layers of kebabs with cling film. It will prevent them from sticking together. Freeze overnight or longer till the kebabs are rock solid. After 24-48 hours, remove the frozen kebabs from the box and put them in to a ziplock plastic bag.
  12. Fry them on medium heat as and when required. 1 ½ kg of minced beef will make around 30 shami kebabs.
  13. These kebabs don’t need a coat of egg before frying. The eggs and chickpea lentils in the mixture act as the binding agents. 

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