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August 2007 Issue
Food from India
by Ronda L. Halpin
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August is hot. And while that's likely to make many of us think of ice cream or cold drinks, sometimes there's nothing like a spicy dish to make us embrace the sweltering heat. This is where my friends from and living in India come to my rescue. I can always rely on them to help me find something wonderful to satisfy my thirst for a delightfully spicy dish.

The recipe featured in this article is from my friend, Zarina, from Hyderabad, India ... home to some of the hottest food in the country. She shares with us shammi kebabs. A Shammi Kebab is a small patty of minced beef, mutton or chicken and ground chickpeas and spices. These are India's most popular kababs of Mughal origin.

Shami kebabs are an extremely popular snack in India and Pakistan. They are often garnished with lemon juice and/or sliced raw onions, and are usually eaten with chutney made from mint or coriander. They are also served along with Sheer Qorma on Muslim Eid Days.

The origin of the name of the dish is a mystery. One argument is that Sham refers to Syria and these kebabs literally means Syrian kebabs in Arabic. Another source states that Sham is evening in Hindi and Urdu. A parochial perfumer from Kannauj offered an explanation linking the spices used with the seductive whiff of a perfume called shamama.

Whether or not we know why they are called shammi kebabs, we are happy to have these delightful patties to share with you. Coupled with a variety of chutneys and other goodies, they are bound to become a sizzling favorite! Enjoy.

 

Shammi Kebab

These kebabs are made exceptionally silken and smooth by being made fine in a blender. The result is a smooth, soft, melt-in-the-mouth patty.
  • 1.5 lbs. lamb or mutton, minced
  • 4 T. Bengal gram, soaked for 2 hours
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped green chilies
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
Mix the Bengal gram and minced meat, cover with water, add salt and bring to a boil. Add the whole garam masala(whole spices power) and cook for about an hour in it. Cook until the meat is dry and there is no hint of liquid in it.

Remove from the heat and let the meat cool.

Turn the contents into a food processor. Grind to a fine paste. No whole spice should be visible.

Add the ginger, garlic, green chili and egg. Blend well. Taste and add more salt if required. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Shape into 18 equal sized balls and flatten them into 3 inches discs.

Shallow fry on moderate heat till crisp on the outer side. Server hot with mint coriander chutney.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
 


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