Recipe For Beef Shami Kebab


Shami kebabs are made with an abundance of fabulous spices, meat (beef, goat, lamb or chicken) and chana dal (dried garbanzo beans). The spices vary depending on whether they’re from India (Lucknow or Hyderabad) or Pakistan. My husband Lulu’s family is from Hyderabad. They’re all meat-eaters, with the exception of my husband and father-in-law. So we often make this dish when we have family over for dinner.

These are not your average kebabs. The meat is cubed and cooked in a pressure cooker with chana dal, and once cooked, it’s ground in a food processor with yogurt. The resulting mixture is formed into ”hamburger” patties that can be frozen or seared, depending on when you plan on eating them.

I learned this recipe from Baji, Lulu’s late grandmother. She was an excellent cook. When Lulu and I first got married, she was already giving us hints.

”Jackie, I’m going to teach you a meat specialty from my hometown. They’re called Shami Kebabs; they’re spiced hamburger patties. This recipe is a must-have when you two have little children. It’s nutritious and easy for little ones to eat. Speaking of which, when are you going to give me great grand-children so I can feed these kebabs to them?”

I would always smile, nod and pretend I didn’t hear the part about having kids. Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to start a family, but the pressure was a little overwhelming. Lulu’s grandmother isn’t with us anymore, but I promise that I’ll make this for my kids when I have them, assuming they don’t become vegetarians like Lulu (fingers crossed).

1. Info for Beef Shami Kebab

  • Cook Time: unavailable
  • Total Time: unavailable
  • Servings: 12
  • Calories: unavailable

2. Ingredients for Beef Shami Kebab

  • 2-½ pounds beef cubes, about 1-½”
  • ¼ cup caramelized onions (see tips)
  • 1 raw yellow onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 bay leaf, torn in half
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), melted
  • ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (see tips)
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, roasted and slightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoons cashew nuts, roasted and slightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons peanuts, roasted and slightly crushed
  • 1-½ teaspoons jalapeno green chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chana dal
  • 1-¼ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1-¼ teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canola oil, as needed

3. Directions:

  1. Prepping the chana dal: In a bowl wash the chana dal thoroughly. Pick out and discard any badly-shaped beans, then soak them for at least 30 minutes. Drain as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
  2. Marinating the meat: In a bowl, combine the beef cubes, 2 tablespoons of yogurt, ginger garlic paste, paprika and red chili powder. Marinate the meat for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepping the nuts: In a mortar and pestle, grind the 3 nuts (almonds, cashew nuts and peanuts) into a fine paste.
  4. Prepping the poppy seeds and cumin seeds: Dry roast the poppy seeds and cumin seeds in a small pan. Allow to cool and finely grind them in a mortar and pestle.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a pressure cooker (without the lid). Once the oil is hot, sear the beef cubes for about 2 minutes until browned on all sides. Remove from the heat. Add the soaked chana dal, garam masala, jalapeño peppers, bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of mint, 3 tablespoons of cilantro, ghee and 1 cup of water.
  6. Carefully seal the pressure cooker with the lid and lock it. Put it on high heat, then start counting the cooking time after it’s started to steam. At this point you can turn down the heat, but it has to continue steaming or it’s not cooking properly. In any case, follow the instructions for your own pressure cooker (depending on which model you may have). Cook for 13-15 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Let stand for about 10 minutes, removing as much steam as possible. Remove the lid (I had to call my husband Lulu for help). The liquid should have evaporated. Let cool for about 15-20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf pieces.
  7. Once cool enough to handle, check for doneness. The chana dal should be soft when it’s gently pressed and crushed between your thumb and index finger. Chop the beef cubes into shreds.
  8. Lightly oil the bowl of a food processor with a silicone brush. Combine the beef, chana dal, turmeric powder, coconut powder, nut paste, ground cumin and poppy seeds, raw very finely chopped onions, remaining yogurt, 1 tablespoons of chopped mint and lemon juice. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Blend until a smooth paste is formed. Add ¼ cup of water for a smoother flow (if necessary). You could also add more yogurt.
  9. Checking the seasoning: In a small pan, heat about 1 teaspoon of canola oil. Add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Cook for about 3 minutes. Taste the meat. Adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Grease disposable gloves with oil (just as you would for Indian cutlets). Form 12 round patties and place them on a tray. Chill them in the freezer for about 1 hour (this step will make the cooking of the patties much easier).
  11. Remove the patties from the freezer. Brush the patties with a little oil.
  12. Brush a grill pan with the remaining canola oil. Add the shami kebabs and pan-fry them for about 2-3 minutes until there is a nicely browned crust; flip them and brown the other side as well.
  13. Garnish with raw onion rings, lemon (or lime) wedges, fresh mint, fresh julienned ginger, cilantro, fresh green chiles or serve them on a bed of lettuce and chopped tomatoes.
  14. Serve hot with basmati rice, spicy red onion chutney (recipe in tip section) and raita (Indian yogurt sauce) on the side.
  15. Bon appétit!

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