Seekh kabab could easily be one the most popular street foods across South Asia.A street food that instantly transports me to colorful streets of Old Delhi. We often thronged to Jama Masjid in heart of the walled city to eat seekh kabab rolls which is basically kababs right off the tandoor wrapped in rumali rotis with thinly sliced onions that soften just a bit due to warmth of kabab & rotis. A few squirts of fiery green chutney and made extra smoky with sprinkles of tangy chaat masala to round up the melt in the mouth melange of spicy and smoky.
It’s a vivid memory hard to overwrite- that of standing on the street side biting into a hot kabab while witnessing the hustle bustle of the city engulfed in aromas from flaming tandoors lined up as far as the sight goes.
Seekh translates to “skewer” and these kababs are usually made with ground mutton, lamb or chicken, shaped into pipe like kababs and cooked on high heat. This are so delicious served with a flatbreads, lots of onions , lemon wedges and green chutney.
You can always go ahead and buy seekh kabab masala from store, and I myself go for the convenience many times, however if you make your own masala, the depth of flavors and taste is truly unmatched. Besides homeground masala, there are a few other things as noted below to be kept in mind for a great tasting seekh.
- Use a fine ground mince with a good amount of fat. By this I mean that even if you purchase minced meat or chicken from the store, grind it using your food processor or blender. This ensures that the kababs are not going to break when you shape or cook them.
- Use mince with good amount of fat. So if you are choosing beef or lamb – go for 85/15 variety. If you are using chicken, do not use ground chicken breast, go for ground dark portion meat. I remember my grandfather asking the butcher to add extra fat separately whenever he bought ground meat for making seekh kababs.
- Squeeze as much water as possible from the finely chopped onions. Else the mince will start breaking when you try to skewer it after marinating.
- Cook on high heat. The mince cooks very quickly and if you slow cook it, the kababs will dry out.
- Grease your palms well when putting mince on the skewer. Also brush or spray oil/ghee liberally when cooking the kababs else they will come out dry.
- You can cook them on indoor or outdoor grill. If you do not have grill, bake them in a high oven and then slide under the broiler for few minutes for a nice char.
You can use the same recipe for making kababs with any kind of meat. However, if you choose to use beef or lamb or mutton, I suggest adding 1-2 teaspoons of meat tenderizer or 1 tablespoon of fine grated green papaya. Rest everything remains the same.
Seekh Kabab Masala (Makes 10-12 kababs)
Ingredients (makes about 1/4 cup of masala)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 star anise flower
- 3 green cardamom pods, seeds only
- 1 black cardamom, pods only
- Cinnamon – 2 inch
- 8 whole black pepper
- pinch of carrom seeds (ajwain)
- 2-3 cloves
- 1 bayleaf
- 2 twigs mace
- 3-5 dried whole kashmiri chillies
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp black salt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- salt to taste
Dry roast all the whole spices – cumin, coriander, fennel. star anise. cardamoms. cinnamon, black pepper, dried red chillies, carrom, black pepper, cloves , mace and bayleaf on very low hear for 5-6 minutes taking care not do brown them at all. Take off the stove and let cool down completely. Using a spice grinder, grind the spices to a fine powder. Sieve the ground spices to make sure that no bits remain.
In a bowl, mix the ground spice with rest of powdered spices and salt and mix well. You can double or triple this recipe and keep it in an air tight container for a month.
For Making Seekh kababs
- 1 lb (1/2 kg) ground chicken, lamb or mutton
- 3 tbsp roasted kaale chane (unsalted black chickpeas (without the skin), these are easily available in indian stores (substitute with 2 tbsp dry roasted besan (chick pea flour))
- Seekh Kabab masala (recipe above, I add the entire batch of masala, you can reduce a bit if you wish)
- 2 tbsp grated garlic
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp very finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped onion, squeeze the water out
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 2-4 green chillies (adjust to taste)
- salt (about 1.5 tsp, adjust to taste)
- Ghee for brushing while cooking/grilling
- Chaat masala, chutney, sliced onions to serve
Note – Add 1 tsp meat tenderizer or 1 tbsp fresh grated green papaya if using ground meat (beef, mutton or lamb). Everything else reminds the same.
Add the ground meat or chicken to your blender or food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse a 4-5 times to grind the mince finer. Transfer to a large bowl. To take out easily from around the blade, drizzle a little oil.
Grind the roasted black chickpeas using your spice grinder or any small grinder to a fine powder. Sift using a colander over the ground meat/chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients and using your hands, gently mix everything. Do not squeeze the meat but make sure the spices, herbs and salt is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with a cling film and let marinate refrigerated for 1 hour (for chicken) and 1.5 hours (for meat).
If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water while the mince marinates. Once marinated, take the mince out of the refrigerator. Rightaway, take about 1/3 cup of the mince at a time, oil your hands and pierce the meat through the skewer. It is easier to skewer the kabab mix when the mince is cold. Using your palms and fingers, spread the meat in a cylindrical shape lengthwise on the skewer. Dont make a very thick kabab else it will not come out chewy, if you make very thin, they will dry out while high temperature cooking.
If using an oven, preheat it to the highest temperature. Mine goes upto 500F. Line a large baking tray with foil or parchment paper (this makes cleaning the tray easy) while oven is heating. Place a rack on the tray. Brush the rack with oil. Place the skewers on the rack. Liberally brush with oil or melted ghee. Cook in the hot oven for 6-8 minutes, flipping mid way. Slide under the broiler for a minute or two if you want a charred skin.
You can also grill these on a charcoal or indoor grill at the highest setting. Liberally brush with oil a few times for a moist kababs. Flip a few times for even cooking on all sides.
Once kababs are done, let it cool down on the skewer for a minute or so. Transfer to a plate from the skewers. Sprinkle with chaat masala.Serve immediately with onion, green chutney , flatbreads, lemons etc.