The Perfect Shami Kabab Recipe is just that! Perfectly delicious and perfectly easy to make! This is my favorite childhood recipe and for a change does not come from my own family's kitchen! Well...kind of! I don't want to spoil the surprise, so I'll let you read the detailed story of this recipe below. Full recipe credits have been shared and I hope you enjoy both the story and the recipe! Bon Appetit !
The history of this recipe is as unique as the actual recipe itself. Covered in various texts, there is some confusion about what the name of this dish means, how the recipe came into being and who actually created it.
The first question that probably comes to your mind is...another kabab? You've probably heard me mention quite a few in this blog alone by now. There's Seekh Kabab, Chapli Kabab, Gola Kabab, Bihari Kabab and oh so many more. Although traditionally a kebab is something that is put on a skewer and grilled, the shami kabab is a little different.
In this type of kebab, the meat is first cooked, ground to a paste, shaped into patties and then shallow fried to perfection!
The World's Softest Kabab?
As per a story in www.dawn.com the shami kabab was specifically created for a Nawab in Lucknow. Overweight and without teeth, he desired a kebab that he could chew easily. However, other sources refute that story and state that the kebab created for him was actually the galouti kabab and that the shami kabab gets its name for different reasons.
Many say the shami kabab is named after the country Syria, known as Sham, since the recipe was created by Syrian cooks working in the Mughal court. Yet another tale has the kebab named after the village of "Sham Chaurasi" where the recipe apparently originated.
The only fact that's a definite is that it was created around the time of the Mughal Era, due to which it is widely popular in both Pakistan and India, due to the shared culinary history of the two countries.
I for one am just happy it was created as I'm a huge fan!
My Story About Rehana Aunty's Kabab
I have always loved Shami Kabab and once you try one you'll know why! But not everyone is really good at making them. Infact, this is the one recipe I've struggled with almost my entire life, until recently.
My kebabs just wouldn't turn out right. They were too dry or too soft and I eventually just gave up on making them. This was terribly sad since both my husband and I love them as do my kids.
Now I can unequivocally say that the best kebabs I've ever eaten in my life were at my friend Saima's house. Saima was that one friend we all have, the one who's house is your second home and who's family is your adopted family.
Last year I asked her if she would part with her mothers recipe and not only did she share it but has generously let me put it on the blog.
I named this recipe The Perfect Shami Kabab Recipe because it truly is that! Not too dry, silky on the inside, crispy on the outside, the kebabs bound together and not falling apart.
There are many fond memories of eating the original version, cooked by Rehana Aunty, in their family kitchen in Karachi. I'm sure I haven't done real justice to her recipe but have tried my best to come as close to it as possible.
My entire family is eternally grateful for this fabulous recipe share and you will be too once you try it!
How To Make The Kababs?
I've tweaked the recipe a little bit as it's in my nature to do so. Part of the tweaking was accidental, due a missing ingredient or two and part of it was in an effort to slightly simplify the cooking process and preparation.
The recipe below is for 2 pounds of meat, which makes about 15 kebabs, depending on the size of each one. I personally make a much larger quantity, usually tripling the amount as pictured below.
It takes more or less the same amount of cooking time to do so and these are great as a snack, meal, side and for lunch sandwiches. You can never truly make enough!
What Meat Should I Use?
I personally like my kebabs with boneless beef best. I find that chicken kebabs are too dry and although lamb has historically been used I find it too fatty a meat for my taste. Although many people use ground beef for their shami kababs, I find that those are usually too crumbly and don't have that silky, reshaydaar, texture.
But by all means, feel free to experiment if you wish to do so.
Why Are My Kabab Breaking?
There are a couple of reasons why your kabab might break:
- The ratio of beef to lentils must be just right. Too many lentils and the kebab will be over dry. This can cause cracking and breakage during frying. Most people add the lentils to help with the binding, but keeping the amount of lentils to a minimum and adding a potato instead prevents an overdry texture.
- Excess Water in the mixture can lead to the mixture not binding properly. This is why you must insure that all water is dry before grinding the meat. The slice of bread also helps to absorb any excess moisture.
- Adding too many green herbs and chillies or not chopping them fine enough can also cause the patties to crack and break. The greens must be chopped very fine and mixed in well to prevent breakage.
Many people refer to a Shami Kabab on a bun as the Pakistani version of a burger. Add some ketchup, or better still some Maggi-Sweet-Tomato-Chilli-Sauce and you will remember it as one of the best meals you've ever had!
Perfect Meal Prep Lunch Option
The kebabs are a bit of an effort to make but once you get the hang of it they get easier! They have a great freezer life and I usually make a big batch every month or two and then we have the most amazing school and/or office lunches for weeks.
Try them with a paratha for brunch or lunch, or at dinner as a side with some easy-aloo-sabzi-potato-curry, easy-eggplant-curry or some hyderabadi-khatti-daal to name a few options!
However you choose to eat it, don't forget to rate the recipe!
The Perfect Shami Kabab Recipe
- Food Processor
- 2 lb beef cubes
- ¼ cup chana daal (split bengal gram) (SEE NOTES)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 inch piece ginger
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp red chilies
- 1 small boiled potato
- 1 slice bread
- 2 eggs
- 3 green onions
- 1 cup cilantro
- 2 serrano chillies
- Add the beef, chana daal, roughly diced onion, peeled and sliced ginger, garlic cloves, salt and red chilies along with 2 cups of water to a pot and bring to a boil (SEE NOTES).
- Cover and cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes till the beef is tender.
- Uncover and turn on high so that all the water can evaporate.
- In a separate saucepan, boil the potato till it's soft enough to be mashed (SEE NOTES) .
- Grind the slice of bread in a food processor to make bread crumbs (SEE NOTES) .
- Beat the eggs and set aside.
- Finely chop the whole green onions, the serrano chilies and the cilantro and set aside (SEE NOTES).
- Peel and mash the potato till there are no lumps in it .
- Once the water in the beef mixture is dry, let it cool a bit till it is warm and then grind it in the food processor till it's well blended (SEE NOTES) .
- Add in the bread crumbs, potato and eggs and pulse till everything is mixed (SEE NOTES).
- Remove the mixture from the food processor into a mixing bowl and knead in the chopped greens.
- Shape the prepared mixture into 15 equal sized patties (SEE NOTES) .
- Preheat some oil in a frying pan and fry the patties till they are a nice and crisp dark brown on both sides (SEE NOTES) .
I’ve never made shami kebab and actually don’t even enjoy cooking, but I decided to try my hand at this recipe. What a confident booster this recipe was. My mom said the kebab came out, “perfect!” She thinks the key is the quantity of chana daal as you mentioned. When I told my Nani I was going to make shami kebab, that was the only tip she gave me - to not add too much daal.
Sumaira I'm so glad the kebab turned out great. You're absolutely right the daal is the key component and until I got Rehana Aunty's recipe mine were never this perfect! So grateful to her and Saima for letting me share this fabulous recipe on my blog!