The Perfect Shami Kabab Recipe results in perfectly formed juicy kababs that are crispy on the outside and silky smooth on the inside. Another delicious Mughal Era recipe, shami kababs are popular in both Pakistan and India.
Shami Kababs are very different from other Kababs, such as Oven Baked Seekh Kabab or Bihari Kabab. The meat for shami kabab is first cooked, then ground to a paste, shaped into patties, and shallow fried.
Recipe credit for this amazing recipe goes to my best friend Saima's mother, Rehana Aunty. I grew up eating these shami kababs and can unequivocally say that this is the perfect shami kebab recipe. Her kindness in letting me share this treasured recipe will forever be remembered.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Kid-friendly recipe - Shami Kababs make the most delicious and nutritious filling for sandwiches for school lunches. Add some ketchup or chutney and you will remember it as one of the best meals you've ever had!
- Versatile recipe - The perfect shami kabab recipe is one of the most versatile Pakistani recipes I know of. Enjoy them with a paratha for breakfast or sehri in Ramadaan. They make a delicious tea-time snack when accompanied by some Nan-Khatai (Pakistani Cardamom Shortbread). For dinner, they serve as a main meat with some hyderabadi-khatti-daal or aloo masala on the side.
- Meal Prep option- Shami Kabab is perfect for meal prep with a freezer life of 2-3 months. I usually make a large batch and then pull them out as needed over a period of a few weeks. My favorite way to eat these is with a plate full of Mutton Yakhni Pulao.
- Easy to source spices - The best part about the perfect shami kabab recipe is that all the spices you need are easily available at any supermarket.
- The meat - Boneless beef (stew meat) is my go-to for these Shami Kabab. This is what gives the Kababs their silky (reshaydar) texture.
- The lentils - Chana Daal, also known as split chickpeas or Bengal gram are essential to the texture of the kabab.
- The potatoes -Red or yellow potatoes are less starchy than other varieties and also come in the perfect small size. The potatoes help bind the kabab but using too much can alter the taste and texture of the shami kabab. If you opt to use a larger potato, like the russet, then use just half.
- The bread - The bread slices help dry out any excess moisture from the shami kabab.
- The onion - Adding onion to the shami kabab mixture helps give it flavor and tenderizes it.
- The garlic - Garlic cloves are always an essential ingredient in most Pakistani recipes.
- The ginger - Ginger adds some sharp spicy notes without giving the kabab too much heat.
- The spices - Only two simple spices are needed for this recipe, salt, and red chili powder.
- The eggs - Eggs are a key ingredient and prevent the kabab from being crumbly.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Substitutions & variations
- Alternate meat options- Mutton, lamb, chicken, or ground beef are all great replacements for the stew meat. Just note, that if you opt to use chicken you'll need to add an extra egg to counter the dryness.
- Use bread crumbs - Substitute ½ cup of storebought bread crumbs in place of the 2 slices of bread for this shami kabab recipe.
- Bake the kabab - Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray your baking sheet with nonstick spray and brush some cooking oil on both sides of each kabab. Cook the Kababs for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through and they're as good as the fried version.
- Switch up the green onions - If you don't have green onions, use ½ of a medium yellow onion. Just make sure to chop it very fine so it mixes well with the meat mixture.
- Gluten-free option - 2 tablespoons of gram flour (chickpea flour) instead of the bread slices make the perfect shami kabab recipe gluten-free.
Step 1 - Add the beef, chana daal, onion, ginger, garlic cloves, salt, and red chili powder to your cooking pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil.
Step 2 - Cover and cook on medium-low for about 30 minutes till the beef for your shami kabab is tender.
Step 3 - Uncover the pot and turn it on high so that all the water evaporates completely.
Step 4 - In a separate saucepan, boil the potatoes till they're soft enough to be mashed.
Step 5 - Once the water in the beef mixture is dry, let it cool for a while. Then grind it in your food processor. Add in the bread crumbs, potato, and eggs next and mix everything by hand. Last of all, mix in the serrano chilies, green onions, and cilantro. Chill the mixture for 15-20 minutes before shaping the patties.
Step 6 - The chilled mixture makes it very easy to make the 20-24 equal-sized patties. Lay them flat on a baking sheet and use wax paper or foil to separate the layers of the kababs. Cover the final layer with foil and place the tray in the freezer. Once they're frozen, put them in Ziploc bags, portioning them the way you plan to use them.
Step 7 - Once you're ready to eat the kabab, preheat some oil in a frying pan. Fry the patties till they are a nice and crisp dark brown on both sides.
- Make sure you have the right ratio of beef to lentils - Too many lentils make shami kebab dry and crumbly. This recipe comes out perfect because the amount of lentils is limited. The potato is added to help bind the shami kabab mixture and gives it a silkier texture.
- Dry out all the excess water - Excess Water in the mixture prevents it from binding properly. Make sure to dry out the meat mixture completely before grinding it. The slice of bread or gram flour you use will also help to absorb any excess moisture.
- Do a very fine chop on your mix-ins - Chop the cilantro, chilies, and green onions very fine. This prevents the shami kabab from breaking.
- Frying The Kabab - Make sure to preheat the oil well and don't overcrowd the pan. Let each Kabab cook for 1-2 minutes before flipping it over to prevent it from breaking. If your shami kababs are still breaking, dip them in a hand-beaten egg, and then fry them.
Add an extra egg to the kabab mixture if it seems too dry. The fat in the egg helps bind the shami kabab and gives them a rich texture.
I've tested air frying kababs and although it is possible, fried or baked kababs turn out better. If you still wish to try Air Frying them, Set your air fryer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat it for 5 minutes. Brush a generous amount of cooking oil on both sides of each kabab and cook for 10 minutes, flipping the kabab halfway through. Please note that not all Air fryers are the same so you may need to adjust the time by 2-3 minutes depending on your particular brand or model.
I batch-make and freeze my Shami Kabab for up to 3 months. Once the kababs are fried, they can be stored for 2 days in the fridge.
Other recipes you may like
Hope you decide to try the perfect shami kabab recipe! Please don't forget to leave a rating and comment below! If you take a picture then tag me on Instagram! Thank You!
The Perfect Shami Kabab Recipe
- 2½ lb beef cubes (see notes)
- ⅜ cup chana daal (split bengal gram) (see notes)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 small boiled potato (see notes)
- 1½ slice bread (see notes)
- 3 eggs
- 5 green onions
- 1¼ cup cilantro
- 3 serrano chillies
- Add the beef, chana daal, roughly diced onion, peeled and sliced ginger, garlic cloves, salt, red chilies, and 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 them 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, leave it uncovered and let it cool down a bit before you grind it in a food processor (see notes).
- Add the bread crumbs, potato, and eggs and mix everything well by hand (see notes).
- Add in all the chopped greens next till they're well mixed.
- Shape the prepared mixture into 20-24 equal-sized patties (see notes).
- Preheat some oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the patties till they are a nice and crisp dark brown on both sides (see notes).