We’re on day 8 of Ramadan and slowly but surely, I’ve been cooking through my family’s favourite foods list. I am not going crazy, because that would defeat purpose of this month, but since my children fast I like to make something special for them.
On days that I make something elaborate for Iftar (the small meal we break our fast with), I make a simple dinner, like a hearty soup with some fresh bakery bread (we have some amazing organic bakeries in Denver). On days that we break our fast with just some dates and fruit, I make a bigger dinner. Last night we had one of my husband’s favourite dinners, chicken enchiladas. Our Iftar was mangoes, sweet figs and grapes with a few leftover samosas (recipe coming up soon).
These Shami Kebabs are found in many countries. They are popular in Iran and chances are that’s how they made their way to India. Indian cuisine has a lot of Persian influence and these kebabs made of ground meat and lentils are popular in India and Iran. Pakistan and Bangladesh also have similar kebabs in their cuisine also.
I ate these often growing up and they are some of my favourite kebabs. They are very versatile and can be eaten at breakfast with some hot parathas, lunch time with some rice and daal, dinner time as part of a multi course meal and as a snack or appetiser.
Before Ramadan starts, I like to make a batch and stick it the freezer for suhoor or an easy dinner. I love these kebabs with parathas for our morning meal before the fast starts. They have a unique flavour and are unlike any kebab; the lentils and the warm spices are what set these apart.
They are a bit time consuming but if you are going to make them, make a big batch and freeze some for later. They make the perfect snack.
There are many recipes for Shami Kebab out there and some use ground meat and some use meat cubes or even bone in meat. The meat is boiled with spices until it is very tender, shredded or minced and then mixed with the cooked lentils, some red onions, cilantro and green chillies and formed into patties and fried. I don’t like the ground meat version because I don’t like the texture of the resulting kebabs. I prefer the meat cubes and love the texture of the chewy, slightly stringy meat patties.
I have fond memories of my mother making Shami Kebabs by hand using her very large mortar and pestle. She would grind the meat on the stone and then mash the lentils and mix it all together. When we moved to England, she swapped her huge mortar and pestle for a food processor.
I was thinking the other day how I had not made Shami Kebab since last Ramadan because I broke my food processor last year. It’s amazing how we rely on technology when my mother was quite able to deliver luscious, perfect little patties for us made totally by hand. I finally replaced my food processor couple of weeks ago and I am like a kid in a candy store again, whizzing this, puréeing that and so on.
Serves: 18 depending on size
- 1½ pounds/680g boneless beef
- ¼ cup/60g split yellow lentils, chana daal
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red cayenne powder
- 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 2 or 3 eggs (depends if your meat mixture binds or not)
- ¼ cup red onion/shallot, finely chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 3 cups water
- oil to shallow fry,(coconut, grape seed or avocado)
- 2 teaspoon kala zeera/ black cumin
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods,
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 teaspoon whole black pepper,
- ½ teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks.
- Grind all the garam masala spices together and store in a clean jar.
- The recipe can be doubled and tripled.
- Use this in biryanis or these kebabs.
- The quickest and easiest way to tenderise the meat is in a pressure cooker.
- You can boil the meat on the stove top until it is very tender.
- Put the meat cubes, spices, garlic and ginger in the pressure cooker and cook according to your cooker instructions.
- I pressure cooked mine for 30 minutes so it was very tender.
- Once the meat is cooked, pull out the cubes of cooked meat and drain from the liquid and whole spices.
- Allow to cool a little.
- Cook the chana daal separately.
- Some people cook the daal and meat together, but I have never had much success with that method.
- You can cook the daal in the pressure cooker also, should take about ⅞ minutes.
- You don't want it too mushy or liquidy, just very soft.
- The end kebab mixture should not be too soft because it will have a hard time binding and forming into patties.
- So, the daal has to be soft but intact.
- I process the daal in the food processor first and then add the meat once the daal is mashed.
- Once the meat is chopped fine and mixed with the daal into a dough, tip out into a bowl.
- Add the chopped onions, cilantro and green chilli.
- Check for salt and add as needed.
- Mix through.
- Add 2 eggs and mix into the meat dough.
- Form into an oval patty about 3 inches long or as big as you want.
- If the patty has a hard time keeping its shape, add another egg.
- Form the rest of the patties.
- You can freeze uncooked patties or cook them and then freeze them.
- If cooking right away, heat the oil in a fry pan, less than ½ inch (1.25 cm) and fry a few patties at a time.
- When one side is brown, flip and brown the other side.
- Serve with mint chutney, hot sauce as a snack or part of a dinner or breakfast.
If you’ve never tried these kebabs, you must make them at least once or try them at an Indian restaurant or a Persian restaurant (will be a bit different here because of the spices). They will be good but not as good as what you can make at home, of course.
Hope you are all having an amazing week so far. I think I have caught up with my blog reading and commenting and hope to keep on schedule with visiting everyone’s sites.
It’s been a tough week for me! The early mornings and late night are taking their toll. Last night I came back for the Islamic Centre after midnight and since we had to eat before 4 am, I just decided to stay awake until then. At 2.30 in the morning my girls wanted to make pancakes so I barked out instructions from the family room and they made pancakes. Then I got up and made home made syrup because they don’t like maple. I didn’t realise I could do all that at 3 o’clock in the morning! The energy, support and the adrenaline you have during Ramadan is unlike any other month.
Have a wonderful week!