Appetizers/Snacks · Condiments/Spice Blends · Gluten Free · Indian Streetfood · Non vegetarian · Side Dishes

Seekh Kabab

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.

Recipe

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

Method

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.

Method

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.

-Enjoy

Condiments/Spice Blends · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · Indian Curry · Pickles/Preserves · vegan · Vegetarian

Pickled Red Chili Peppers (Laal Mirch Ka Achaar)

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianThe summer mornings at my badi mummy’s (grandma) house started early with preparing for meals ahead that day. By the time I walked down half sleepy to the lobby, the central area of our house where the whole family gathered for chai in the morningsat meal times or just to sit chatting away, the “lobby” with tiny pink and ivory marble pieces embedded in the floor and a fish aquarium decorating one corner of the wall facing the door that opened into the backyard, I would often find her either chopping vegetables,segregating them into what will be for which mealtime, kneading the dough , picking the lentils or just involved in some kitchen chore.A half filled teacup always on her side on top of a newspaper folded in quarters which she read in between of being busy.I inched to sit close to her and see what her keep busy.I would flip a few pages of the newspaper and often she told me ” hamare babuji 25 paise har mahene english padne ke leye jayda dete they”(my father spent extra money each month to let me learn english at school). In the 1930s, many old women of her age in India would not be reading english newspapers or speaking the language at that time.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianWhen it was the pickling season, the attention shifted from regular tasks to raw mangoes, baby limes and chilies.To tell you the truth the pungent smell of strong pickling spices along with the piquant aroma of virgin mustard oil would be the last thing you would want to sniff at 6 in the morning but her dedication and involvement towards this business was contagious. Attention to detail boiled down to sterilizing the knifes and kitchen towels that would or could touch those chilies and mangoes,leave alone the large glass containers and spoons or bowls. In that time of no fancy appliances,magic bullets and all, hand crushing the tough seeds of fenugreek and tiny rai (brown mustard) did not come easy if you lacked sincerity. She often covered her nostrils with the end of her cotton saree, which was especially worn in any other color but white that day to guard against stains and those fragile, slightly wrinkly hands worked energetically in unison with the heavy terra-cotta mortar & pestle. In between, she paused to wipe off the spice dust off her steel framed glasses but continued with double vigor in the next few minutes.I often wondered if there could be anything, anything in this whole wide world right now which could deter her attention.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianFor the next few hours, the coarse ground fenugreek, nigella, fennel and mustard seeds were mixed with copious amounts of turmeric powder and salt and then doused in liters of raw, virgin mustard oil, the pungent oil, which my kitchen still feels lifeless without for I have consumed it right from childhood days. Half of the mixture was separated for the mango pickle to which she would add more chili powder later and the rest was stuffed inside plum,red peppers with slightly shriveled skin from a day or two of sun drying prior to pickling. The jars would be situated in sun to ferment for week or ten days and she found something else to keep her busy like no other.

Sinfully Spicy - Laal Mirch Ka Achaar, Pickled Red Chili Peppers #indianHaving lived on homemade pickles all those years of growing up, I could never acquire a taste for the store-bought ones.My tastebuds can make out the slightest hints of those citric acid and preservatives. It is my aim every season to make at least one pickle. Last year it was raw mangoes and prior to that I pickled no oil limes. It was the turn of red chili peppers as soon as I spotted them at Whole foods this time. Over the years, I have slightly changed the recipe to be more like my mom’s. Instead of stuffing the whole red chili peppers, I slit them in half and then stuff the halves. Thats the only change I have made to my badi mummy‘s recipe.

Ingredients (Makes 40 halves of pickled chilies and extra spice (masala) & oil )

  • 18-20 whole red chili peppers (I used Fresno)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoon rai (brown mustard seeds)
  • 2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon Nigella seeds
  • 1.5 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tablespoon amchoor (dry mango powder, buy online here )
  • 2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 300-350 ml virgin mustard oil, divided (or use olive oil, see notes)

Notes

  1. You could use the same recipe to make whole stuffed red chili peppers.Instead of halving them, simply, remove the seeds and stuff with the spices.
  2. Never under salt the pickle, it will go bad within few weeks.
  3. If you do not like the strong taste of mustard oil, you can heat it up to do away the raw smell, cool down and then add. Or you can use olive oil in this recipe if you do not get mustard oil. The flavor of the pickle is slightly different from traditional but it works.
  4. This is not an instant pickle recipe, the pickle is sun fermented and takes 7-10 days (or more depending on strength of sun where you live to mature and get ready to consume.

Method

Wash and pat dry the chilies. Cut and discard the top stem and the entire green portion, then cut them into half. I discarded the seeds & veins of half the chillies,thats where the heat in the pickle comes from. You can remove seeds for all of them if you want. Layer the chilies on a wide, non reactive shallow dish, sprinkle a scant pinch of salt.

Using your coffee grinder, coarsely pulse the mustard, fennel, nigella & fenugreek seeds separately (this is important).You do not need to make a fine powder, if few specks of whole spices remain, its okay. In a small bowl mix the powdered spices together with turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and amchoor.Taste the spice mix for salt, it should be slightly more salty than you thinkAdd 2-3 tablespoon mustard oil just so that the spice powder is moistened. This will be make it easy to stuff the chilies.

With dry hands, stuff whole or each half of the chilies with this spice mixture. Place the stuffed chili pepper in a wide glass dish (I use my pyrex). Add 200 ml of mustard oil, any spice mixture remaining and gently mix so that the chilies are coated in oil. At this point, the achaar will have a very strong smell and a bitter taste but that’s okay. Allow it to stand in full sun for two days. Try to stir the achaar once or twice a day with a clean, dry spoon.

On the third day transfer the achaar into a glass or porcelain jar (do not use a metal container) , check and adjust the salt and top with remaining oil and mix well. Cover the mouth of the jar with a muslin cloth, tie with a string and let mature for seven to ten days in sun. (this time will depend on the strength of sun in the area you live).Stir the contents once or twice a day.

At the end of sun fermentation, the skin of chilies would have shrivelled and the strong, bitter taste will go away. Store at room temperature for up to 2-3 months. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickle.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy!

Condiments/Spice Blends · Easy Recipes · Gluten Free · How To · Indian Streetfood · Pickles/Preserves · Salads · Seafood · Vegetarian

Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Spice Blend)

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeAlong with garam masala or the hot indian spice blend which got more popular in the west, I find chaat masala equally versatile and quite frequently used in my kitchen. ‘Chaat‘ translates to any snack or food item served on the streets in the northern parts of India and ‘Masala‘ in Hindi refers to any sort of (dry or wet) spice blend. If you happen to hit streets in India for food, mostly everything that you will order will come to your table speckled with generous pinches of chaat masala, of course making it lip smacking good and adding a myriad array of tart, salty and hot flavors all at once.It is essentially the spice blend which you will spot on top of pakoras(fritters), tandoori chicken, kebab platters, murgh tikkachaat items (of course), mixed in with raita (yogurt dip) and sometimes sprinkled over side salads and onions in indian restaurants here.The one which punches all the senses in the first bite and with a tempting flavor profile of tang and heat.

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeI would essentially compare chaat masala to the movie theatre popcorn seasoning (oh I love those) which come in all sorts of flavors and add the much-needed zip to your treat.The only difference that can be pointed here is that even though the spice blends differ from brand to brand and home to home and cook to cook but all are referred to as just ‘chaat masala‘. If you are buying from the stores, pick up a couple of brands, try, choose your favorite and stick to it. I am using the same brand for more than a decade and its worth all your money. While you will sniff and taste warm and (slightly) bitter notes in garam masala, chaat masala is sour and peppery with a pronounced heat level. It is a strong blend, one with a kick, in aroma as well to taste.

After I  came to the States, like many immigrants starting their life, building bit by bit, accepting the smoothness of life here (trust me it didn’t come easy),I recollect how in those days, we did not own a car and trip to indian grocers was a hardly a once or twice a month activity.Even after making ten lists, I would forget a lot of pantry staples. It was during that time that I delved into making my own spice blends.I found this recipe last month scribbled at the back of an old notebook while I was spring cleaning the garage of old boxes from moving  and with an afternoon to kill ahead of me, I blended up some chaat masala. For those of you who happen to live in a place where indian grocer are quite far away to drive to or simply just to try your hand at homemade blends,this recipe could be a starting point. Play with it. Measure, grind, sniff and taste. Add or take items as per your liking. Let the flavor and aroma of spice that you like shine.

Sinfully Spicy - Homemade Chaat Masala (Hot & Tangy Indian Spice Blend) RecipeFor all practical reasons, almost always,I go and pick up a pouch from the grocer shelf for the heck of convenience but it is less in comparison to homemade.Trust me on that. Make some and sprinkle on anything and everything you want. It goes very well on top of cut up raw vegetables like cucumbers, celery, radishes or baby carrots. Add it to marinades (just be cautious of heat) and salad dressings. Use it on grilled meats or seafood. My favorite way is to dredge a lime wedge in it and slowly savor it, try it, its addictive!

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (Makes approximately 3/4 cup)

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 7-8 whole dried red kashmiri chillies (remove stems, adjust to taste)
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carrom) seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small green cardamom, whole
  • 1 small clove
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon kashmiri chilli powder (or paprika)
  • 1 tsp extra hot red chilli powder
  • 1teaspoon kala namak(black salt, available in indian stores)
  • 3-4 dried mint leaves 
  • 2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)

Method

In a dry skillet, lightly dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole chillies, ajwain, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick, each spice one at a time, separately, on low heat. Do not let the spices turn brown. Let cool completely.

Put the roasted spices along with other items into dry coffee grinder or spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder.

Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!