Updated: Apr 26, 2021
The term “Seekh” or “Shish” is derived from the Turkish şiş kebap, literally meaning to be roasted on a stick (or sword). When we trace the trade routes from Istanbul through the Middle East deserts, to India, then further north through Eastern Europe and then onward to Russia in the North and China in the south, you see countless varieties of grilled meat on a skewer. The recipe slowly transforms with the culture, available spices and herbs and the life stock available for food. All along this long road, grilled meat or kebabs served as the main source of life, easy to carry or kill, nutritious and an important symbol of wealth.
The seekh kebab became even more popular in India during the Mughal reign. The recipes developed with the preferences of the kings and within regions In India. The prefixes "Shahi", "Nawabi" and "Mughlai" generally refer to the period or region in which thenrecipe was developed. Today the shish kebab has taken on an iconic place on the table. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat recipes, passionately guarded and passed along for generations, makes this a sought after dish. Although seekh kebabs are on practically every restaurant menu, they are most popular from the little (and sometimes unhealthy) street vendors who have ruled their street corners for decades, I call these the original crack dealers, these kebabs are that good! This recipe is not as commonly available as others. It incorporates the use of the bright red and fiery Kashmiri chilies, dried fenugreek leaves, and lots of mint. It has a delicate flavor with a punch of chili at the end palate. I have served these kebabs with just a wedge of lime and cilantro chutney, or as a salad with lots of green and drenched in cilantro chutney.
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1 lb ground lamb. Can substitute ground beef or ground chicken too. 1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 cup onions, finely minced
3-4 tablespoons mint, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
1/2 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tablespoons Kashmiri chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
Salt to taste
Lime, cut into wedges
Add all the ingredients, except ghee, to a bowl and mix well. Pinch off a teaspoon of the mix and fry it on a pan as a taster. Adjust salt, chili and spices as desired.
Marinate the meat for at least 1 hour, or overnight in the fridge overnight.
On a grill:
Put the meat onto the skewer, about 1/4 inch thick, leaving some place on top and at the handles. I generally top the end of the skewer with a quarter lime to keep the meat in place. Grill about 90-120 seconds per side, 4 sides, on a medium flame till the meat is charred in spots and dripping juices. Baste with a touch of ghee. Remove and let settle for 3-4 minutes. Squeeze some lime juice on top and serve with a wedge of lime and cilantro chutney and naan bread.
On a pan:
Make small flat kebabs, about 1/2 inch thick. Add a touch of ghee and fry the kebabs on medium heat for about 3 minutes for the first side and 2 minutes the second side. The meat should be charred in spots and browned all over, with the centers being completely cooked. Squeeze some lime juice on top and serve with a wedge of lime, cilantro chutney and naan bread.