Updated: Jun 24
Hyderabad boasts a number of delicious kebabs, but this one is a decadent speciality. These soft and succulent kebabs are loaded with spices and herbs, and deep fried to perfection. This dish will change everything you know about kebabs. The chef who has been cooking in my mother’s house for the last 20 years, Abida, asked if she could cook this dish, something she has never cooked for them before. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to learn, and share, this little known recipe with you. These kebabs are traditionally made for celebrations, weddings, or religious festivals. They follow the traditional Mughal recipe card, lots of spices, nuts and herbs. However, all the spices are cooked first, and them mixed in with the raw meat and the cooked again. This allows the spices to express themselves in the kebab fully, making them pop with flavor. In addition, it allows the chef to focus on the meat and its textures, crisp on the outside and butter soft and smooth on the inside. For more of my own delicious recipes click here.
4 onions, sliced thinly,
4 green cardamom pods
2-3 whole cloves
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
10 cubeb peppers, also called tailed peppers or kebab chini
1/4 cup almomds
1/4 cup cashew nuts
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1/4 cup split chana dal
3-4 tablespoons yogurt, or as needed
10-12 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
3-4 green chilies, or to taste
1/2 cup cilantro with tender stems
1/4 cup mint leaves
2-3 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
Salt to taste
Oil to fry
1/2 kg (1 lb) ground lamb or goat
Lime wedges, for garnish
Fresh cilantro and mint, minced for garnish
Onion slices, for garnish
White radish, cut into thin batons, for garnish
Add 3-4 tablespoons oil to a pan and fry the whole spices, green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick for 1 minute till fragrant. Add the onions, garlic and fry till they are caramelized and a deep brown, about 10 -12 minutes. Careful not to burn them, if you see the thinner onions start to color fast, turn down a heat a notch so that they all caramelized evenly. When caramelized, remove and set aside to cool.
On a dry frying pan toast the poppy seeds, nuts and chana dal individually till lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
In a coffe grinder or spice mill grind the chana dal, poppy seeds, almonds, and cashew nuts individually till they are completely smooth. The nuts and poppy seeds tend to f-rm a butter, so you may have to scrape them down a few times to get them to be smooth. Mix together after grinding. Set aside.
Add the fried onion mix with whole spices to the blender. Blend with no water if possible till smooth. You may need to let this go for a little while so that the whole spices are completely pulverized. Remove 1/2 the paste. Add 1/2 the meat and 1/2 the yogurt, garlic, and green herbs and purée till you have a smooth thick paste. You want this to be very thick so that you can mound it into shapes. Remove and add the rest of the meat, ground paste and yogurt and repeat till smooth again. Mix together the paste well. Add the ground nuts, poppy seeds and salt and mix well. At this stage you have a thick and very smooth paste. The secret to these kebabs is the smoothness of the meat.
Make a small patty as a taster and fry on a small pan. Taste and adjust salt, chili and any other component. Mound into small balls, or small flat patties based on how you are going to cook them. Marinate the kebabs for at least 2 hours, however, overnight is always better.
There are a number of ways to make these kebabs. The options below are based on tradition and/or health and convenience.
The most traditional method is to deep fry them. Make small round balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Deep fry in oil that is hot, you want the kebabs to be browned and crisp on the outside and soft and tender, but cooked through on the inside. Serve immediately sprinkled with fresh cilantro and mint, lime wedges on the side, sliced radishes, sliced onions and naan bread or other bread of choice.
The second method, also traditional is to grill them On metal skewers if possible. Make a long kebab, about 10 inches in length, depending on the length of your skewers. Insert a skewer through the middle, and pat the kebab down to make it even on all sides. Grill over moderately hot coals or flames so that the outside is burnet in spots and the center is cooked through. Serve immediately sprinkled with fresh cilantro and mint, lime wedges on the side, sliced radishes, sliced onions and naan bread or other bread of choice.
The third, and healthy method, is in the oven. Make small flat patties aNed layer them on a baking sheet. Broil in the oven about 8 inches from the t op for 4-5 minutes per side till browned on both sides. Serve immediately sprinkled with fresh cilantro and mint, lime wedges on the side, sliced radishes, sliced onions and naan bread or other bread of choice.