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Shami Kebabs

Silky soft kebabs made of boiled and ground up meat, lentils, and spices.
Author: Aroosa Akhtar


  • 1 lb. chicken (preferably drumsticks or thighs), beef, or mutton
  • 1/2 c. split yellow lentils (channa dal); rinsed and soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 6 button red chilies
  • 4-6 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 large black cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick (1" piece)
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (1" inch knob), roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced fine
  • 2-4 green chilies, diced fine
  • 1 - 1/2 " fresh ginger piece, grated
  • 1 large egg, beaten


  • Rinse meat and place into a heavy bottomed bottom. Add chana dal, button chilies, peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, cinnamon, garlic, 1" inch piece of chopped ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, and just enough water to cover the meat (I used approximately 2 1/2 cups of water). 
  • Bring pot to a boil and continue to cook until meat and lentils are soft and most of the water has evaporated.
  • Allow the mixture to cool. If using cuts of meat with bone, shred meat and remove and discard bones.
  • Take the boiled mixture of remaining meat, lentil, and spices and grind until smooth either in a food processor or with a meat grinder.
  • Once the mixture has been ground, add the cilantro, mint, onion, green chilies, grated ginger, and egg and combine until mixture is smooth and holds together. If your mixture is dry or if it crumbles slightly, slowly add up to one more beaten egg.
  • Take approximately 2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll into round kebabs. Continue to shape and form the remaining mixture into kebabs. Shaped kebabs can either be frozen or fried at this point.

To Freeze:

  • Place shaped kebabs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze the kebabs on the baking sheet for about 2 hours.
  • Remove the kebabs from the baking sheet and place into a plastic bag. Return bag to freezer and keep frozen until needed.

To Fry/Cook Immediately:

  • Heat approximately 2 T of a neutral oil (I use grapeseed) in a heavy-based frying pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, fry kebabs in batches (either from from fresh or frozen) until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes on each side.
  • Garnish shami kebabs with thinly sliced red onions and serve with a green chutney. Enjoy!