Fun with beef – Shammi kebabs Hedonist style

Throughout my time in India, I desperately missed having good quality meat. I craved beef, duck and anything that wasn’t chicken or the largely useless quality of mutton that was available where I stayed. Now, in the UK, to some extent I still miss good quality meat. I tend to stay away from pork because I’ve never liked it much to begin with (Bacon & sausages are exceptions). And British beef is very “aromatic”… No idea why. The same is true for lamb; I don’t buy much of it for that reason…

Anyway, I have figured out that buying Irish beef is a solution to the problem; at least it doesn’t smell. And for certain preparations, such as these Shammi kebabs (deep fried meat balls), even though they are meant to be made with minced mutton, they turn out great with lean beef as well!

However, one warning before trying this recipe out yourself: get yourself a decent grinder! I have one of those cheap “Magic Bullet Blender” knock-offs, which works great for normal every day needs, but starts to screech and smoke trying to cope with the recipe below…. This hasn’t stopped me though, grinding small portions at once seems to be the key.

Shammi Kebabs

500g mince – use lamb or beef, whichever you prefer

1/3 cup split Chickpeas (chana dal) – soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes

1 small onion – chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic – chopped

2 green chillis

1 whole dried red chilli

3 cloves

2 green cardamoms

some freshly ground pepper, or 3 pepper corns

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1/2 tsp Chat Masala – if unavailable, replace with a little bit of cumin powder, and lemon juice

Some water

Combine all ingredients in a pan and boil it until the Chickpeas are relatively soft; approx. 20-30 mins. Keep stirring to avoid sticking. Once done, reduce the water completely; you do NOT want this mixture to be wet at all. Cook all the moisture away, until the mince becomes crumbly and separated. Try to retrieve the whole spices from the mince and throw them away; they are difficult to blend and would make for a nasty surprise if found in the end product. Now, blend the mixture to a fine pulp. The idea is that your chickpeas are completely crushed, as well as the other ingredients.

Let it cool down a little in a bowl, then add the following:

1 egg

3 tsp white Cornflour – more may be required if the mixture is very sticky

Some fresh coriander leaves – chopped

1/2 tsp Lemon juice

Combine all ingredients properly into the mixture; you will probably need to use your hands, which is just as well because the meat balls will need to be shaped by hand also. Now form portions of this mixture into walnut-sized balls, flattening them slightly to look like thick mini-hamburgers. Heat oil in your favourite deep frying contraption; I use a very small wok, less than 6″ in diameter. The oil should be around 1 1/2 inches deep at least. I guess you could easily use a deep fryer, but I’m not sure how well the oil will keep after your done frying the Shammi kebabs. Putting in as many balls at a time as comfortably fit, fry them for around a minute on each side on medium heat. They will turn a nice shade of dark brown – however take care not to burn them!

Serve with your favourite dip; Hot & Sweet ketchup, Coriander chutney or whatever.. They also taste great just sandwiched between some white bread. Or you could add salad, dressing and stuff them into a pita bread like you would do with falafel.

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