Being brought up in the UAE, having a father who loves grilled foods esp. Arabic grills and then marrying a man who also prefers grilled over Indian curries, Italian cheeses and American fast food…. I can easily say I have been eating kebabs, lamb chops, arayes, hummus, literally my whole life. You can say, I grew up eating this atleast once a week and still do (remember the husband loves it!).
But I always thought of kebabs as something that was going to be difficult to make at home. It’s a ‘restaurant-food’ that’s not imitable at home, atleast not without burning your house down and plus you’ll need a BBQ Grill or a tandoor or something around those lines, is what I thought. And then about a month back, a blogger friend of mine, Biny, posted Seekh Kebabs to her blog which I follow ardently and was amazed at how tasty it looked and simple it sounded. Seeing that, I knew I had to one on my own too.
So immediately went out and got 1 kilo of fresh minced lamb from the butcher, for a family of 2 n 1/2 (you can’t really count the toddler as 1, c’mon!). And yes, you read 1 kilo because I’m thinking it’s going to be delicious right? Right! Anyways, I come home all excited to make for the 1st time in my life a kebab, for which I had an outline of what all needs to go in, but hadn’t decided as to what all I was gonna put in to suit the men in my life’s taste. And talk of over enthusiasm and over-confidence in myself, that I even called the husband and made plans to meet friends while the kebab mixture was going to be left to marinate.
Everything was going perfect till disaster struck. When? At the initial stage itself!! What happened?? Well… I washed and cleaned the meat thoroughly (super thoroughly!), and squeezed a little water off it by pressing onto the strainer. But felt there was still a lot of moisture and water in it. And then thought, what’s the best way to get rid of atleast half of the water in the meat….. Put it on the gas stove ofcourse!!!!! Wrong. Bad decision. Now, you must be thinking, is she really that dumb?? Doesn’t she know the second the meat touches the hot pan, it will lose its stickiness and it won’t stick to the skewers anymore. Ofcourse, I do know that. But then you know how sometimes, the mind works slower than the rest of the body…and then by the time the mind gets into action, it’s already too late. The second I put the meat into the hot pan, I knew that was the end of my kebabs (atleast for the day!).
Anyways, I then let the meat cook for some more time and then divided them into 2 portions (1 kilo, remember!). One for kheema mattar curry for dinner that night, and the other I thought I would make some mutton cutlets, later. Chopped up some onions for the curry and the cutlet, boiled potatoes for the cutlet….and my evening went on. And NO, I wasn’t this cool. I brought the house down and yelled at my poor husband and son who were the victims of my blunder in the kitchen (well…they weren’t willing to be victimized for long, so they decided to go to the park and wait till I cooled down). But yea, I was surprised at myself that I managed to be angry at myself, prepare the kheema curry, scream at the men of the house, prepare the meat for the cutlet and still be angry at myself for being stupid…..all in 30 minutes.
Seeing what all I accomplished made me smile, cool down, call the men back home and then we went out to meet friends. And this time, thanks to the disaster, I didn’t have to go back home and grill the kebabs. Dinner was ready :-)!
Anyways, like I said… I didn’t give up on the making of kebabs. I was determined to get it right. So tried it again 2 days back, but this time instead of buying 1 kilo fresh minced meat, I just bought 500 grams of the frozen packaged ones and kept my over-confidence on the side. And yes, they came out really good – perfect texture, spicy and really juicy. Served it with Khubz (pita bread), Hummus and garlic paste. Delicious!
- Minced mutton / beef – 500 grams (I used mutton)
- Onion, finely chopped – 1 no.
- Ginger, minced -1 teaspoon
- Garlic , minced -1 teaspoon
- Green chillies, minced – 2 nos.
- Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
- Chilli Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Garam Masala – 1/4 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – a pinch
- Pepper powder – 1 teaspoon
- Mint leaves, minced – 2 teaspoon
- Coriander leaves, minced – 1 tablespoon
- Salt – as per taste (approx.3/4 teaspoon)
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Wash the lamb/mutton nicely. And then make sure, you drain off all the water, else it’ll be really difficult for the meat to stick onto the skewers. What you can do : Take a strainer, put the kheema in it and press nicely (this will take out most of the water). And then, take small portions of the minced meat and squeeze it well using your palm and fingers.
Mix all the onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, powders, herbs, salt and pepper to the kheema. Keep it to marinate for an hour (you can grill it immediately too, but then marinating lets the meat absorb all the flavours of the spices).
Make 9-10 small balls out of the mixture. Skewer each ball and slowly shape it to make kebabs 2-3 inches long.
Put the skewers onto a the grill and bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes (the actual time would vary depending on how thick the kebabs are). Also do remember to keep a baking tray underneath the grill, lined with foil. I like this method because you can catch all the drippings from the kebab on the baking tray and use that good fat to baste the kebabs. Also, the kebabs when placed on the grill (wire rack) is easier to turn around. (for other cooking methods, read the Notes at the end).
Serve hot as a snack along with onions, coriander-mint chutney and lemon wedges. Or you can make it as a main-course meal just like I did by serving it with some fresh vegetables, pita bread, hummus, and garlic paste.
NOTE : If you’re using a food processor for the chopping/mincing, and assuming you’re using already minced meat, then 1st mince the onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, herbs. Once that’s finely chopped, add the minced meat to it, so that it can all mix well. And if you’re NOT using minced meat, then mince the meat well first and then add onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, and herbs. I used ready-made minced lamb and didn’t use any food processor. Just chopped everything real fine and added it to the lamb.
If you don’t have bamboo skewers, it’s fine. Just shape it into small cylinders that’s finger length and grill. BUT, if you are using bamboo skewers, soak it in water for an hour before you skewer the meat onto it. This prevents the skewers from burning.
To cook the kebabs, you can either place it on a grill like I did or else, directly place it on a foiled baking tray and bake at 200 deg. C. If you don’t have an oven, you can even fry the kebabs in oil in a non-stick frying pan.