My failed attempts to make kebabs like the ones we used to enjoy at the Kareem’s restaurant in Old Delhi left me frustrated. I still dream about their taste – so flavourful, juicy and spicy too.
My kebabs were always dry no matter what I did and when I tried to make them moist they would crumble and fall while they were being grilled. I always used extra lean meat to keep them healthy. But my husband would argue and justify saying: “It is the fat that keeps the kebabs moist. All the restaurants use some fat in their kebabs and all that fat drips off when you grill them”, which took me a while to digest. Anyway, I decided to try them out with medium beef at his request, thinking, I am not going to make them often. Well I have an alternative for healthy eaters: you could try my koubideh which are made with extra lean ground beef.
The medium ground beef did do the trick and my kebabs did turn out well this time and did not fall off when I grilled them. Not only this, the Shaan’s Chapli Kebab spices combined with fresh mint and cilantro enhanced their flavour. I rarely use store bought spice mixes in my cooking except for a few selected dishes like Haleem, Nihari and Chapli kebabs as it turns out easy instead of an elaborate preparation. The chapli kebab spices have whole coriander, cumin and garam masala spices in them with white flour. So I decided to grind them fine. Then I added the fresh mint and cilantro. And I was very happy with the end result. They turned out not only juicy and flavourful but were very close to the ones we ate at Kareem’s restaurant in Old Delhi.
My family loved them so much. I forgot all about the fat and enjoyed every bite of them.
Here’s the recipe!
Medium ground beef – 350gms
Shaan’s Chapli kebab Masala – 1/2 pack
Cilantro – 1/2 cup
Mint – 1/4 cup
Vegetable oil – 1 tbs
Veg oil for basting – 1tbs
Flat metal skewers
1. Rinse the ground beef quickly in running water in a strainer without making it soggy. Let it drain a bit so that it is not watery. You don’t need to rinse it if the beef was washed before grinding.
2. Take half of the Shaan’s chapli kebab masala from the pack, place it in a dry grinder and grind it fine.
3. Wash the fresh mint and cilantro and towel dry them, then add to the grinder and grind them all together.
4. Mix together the ground beef, the ground masala and one teaspoon of vegetable oil.
5. Brush the skewers with oil as this makes it easier to slide off the kebab when it is done. With clean wet hands take a golf size ball of the prepared ground beef and wrap it around the skewer till it holds together. Clean and wet your hands again and shape it into a nice, long, smooth and round sausage then with your index and middle finger mimicking scissors pinch the kebab from one end to the other alongside to form ridges. Smoothen the edges.
6. Repeat the steps for all of them. Leave enough room on either side of the skewers so as to rest them on the grill.
7. Set your oven to broil on high (or 550 degrees fahrenheit).
8. Take an old cookie sheet and cover it with tin foil. Place the skewers on the cookie sheet. Then place it under the grill in the top position of the oven.
9. Broil for 3 mins on each side. Do not over cook as they would harden. When you see them turning golden brown turn over and cook for another 3 mins till they are just done. Keep some tin foil ready. Remove them from the oven. Discard the fat/oil drippings. Wait for sometime till they cool off a bit. Slide them off with your hands (wearing clean oven proof gloves) into the tin foil and wrap them up immediately. This helps in retaining the moisture and heat till you serve them. You have to be very careful and use oven gloves while handling the skewers as they are very hot.
10. Serve them hot with rumali roti (thin flat bread like a hand kerchief) or naan and yoghurt mint chutney which you can make by grinding together 1/2cup each of fresh mint and cilantro, 1 small green chilly, 1/2 an inch ginger, salt and pepper. Then add this to 1/2 a cup of whisked sour yoghurt.
11. You can spread the yoghurt chutney on the Naan or rumali roti, place a long kebab inside, top with sliced red onions sprinkled with lemon juice and chaat masala, roll it into a wrap and enjoy!