He took the first bite and said ‘just like your mom makes’. A broad smile scanned my face, probably it was all I ever wanted to hear aftergrinding, stuffing and arduously shaping these kabab all Sunday morning.
When my mom visited last year, she made kabab from the mutton mince we got from a middle eastern store some 30 miles away. To put in one word – they were sensational, speckled with spices in each bite,smooth & silky, just melt in the mouth, glorious rounds of deliciousness. I picked up the recipe from her which slightly differs from how I make them. I need not even say this but mom’ were definitely better.
I am told that this recipe has been in the family for few generations now.Even though I hardly had a chance to witness but in those days on special & rare days a big chulla (clay & brick stove) was set up in the aangan (backyard) and what followed was hours of slow cooking and making sure that the recipes were followed to the tee. All you needed were lots of whole spices – which are easily a part of any Indian kitchen. If there is something which was missing,an instant trip to the market was inevitable for there was hardlyroom for substitutions.The meats were hand cut and cleaned at home,the mince was ground on the stone, truly making cooking a glorious labor of love.
For few months, we kept flocking to the middle eastern store to get mutton mince, but then I decided to give these a shot with lamb which is so darn easy to find. With all those aromatic spices, you will not miss the taste unless you are an ardent mutton lover, though the kabab do taste different.The fat content in lamb mince keep them uber moist and the use of chane ki daal (bengal lentils) is irreplacable.The lentils are boiled with the meat & whole spices,followed by grinding, some people prefer to grind the mince to a paste like consistency but I like to keep it a bit on the coarse side because that is how the husband prefers it but its a choice.
You can stuff and shape these kabab and refrigerate for couple of days or even freeze them, just thaw and pan fry whenever ready to serve. I usually serve them with parathas (flatbread), salad and a chutney. They make an excellent appetizer and are even great for tucking inside those sliders or wraps.
Ingredients (Makes 15)
- 1/2 cup chana dal (bengal lentils)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 cloves
- 2 green cardamom
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 whole dry chillies, broken (adjust to tolerance)
- 2 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1/2″ fresh ginger shoot, roughly chopped
- 1/2 ” cinnamon stick
- 1 lb ground lamb
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- Oil/ghee for pan frying
- 3 tbsp finely chopped onion
- 3 tbsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
- 1-2 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
- Julienne ginger
- 2 tbsp golden raisins, cut into small pieces
Wash the chana dal 2-3 times in a stream of running water. Soak the dal in 1 cup of water for (not more than)15 minutes. While the dal is soaking, coarsely crush black pepper, cumin, cloves, fennel, and cardamom using a mortar and pestle.
Once the dal has soaked, drain all the water and transfer it to a pressure cooker along with the crushed spices, bay leaf, red chilies, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Add the lamb mince and about a 1/2 tsp salt. Using a fork or with fingers, gently mix everything together. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and steam on medium – low heat for about 20-25 minutes (about 3-4 whistles). Note – This time will depend on how coarse or fine ground the lamb is, adjust accordingly. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook on open stove till the lentils are tender (but not mushy) and the lamb is cooked. Do not stir the mixture when it is hot.
Put aside the cooked lentils and lamb to cool down completely. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the stuffing ingredients and set aside.
Once cold, take out the bay leaf and cinnamon,discard. Transfer the mix into your food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse 3-4 times. At this point you need to decide how coarse or smooth you want the kabab, process accordingly.
Take out the processed mince into a bowl, add the mint leaves, check and adjust the salt, knead (do not squeeze) gently for 5-8 minutes so that everything comes together.
Apply some oil on your palms and divide the kabab mixture into equal portions, flatten each portion and stuff with about a teaspoon or less of the stuffing.Pinch on all sides to close and shape into little patties. Do not press too much. At this point you can refrigerate for at least 20 minutes so that they are firm. You can freeze if you want.
When ready to fry, heat a cast iron skillet and pan fry the kabab on both sides with a 1-2 teaspoon oil/ ghee flipping to get golden brown on both sides. You can lightly flatten them as you fry them
Serve with green chutney, onion rings, cucumber slices, lemon wedges or a sprinkle of chaat masala.
Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!