Shami Kebabs (Spiced Ground Beef Patties)
Ground beef is stuffed with a spiced onion mixture and then fried until crisp and savory in this favorite street food of Muslim Indians. The recipe for these kebabs, which can also be made with lamb or goat, is adapted from Charmaine O’Brien’s Recipes from an Urban Village: A Cookbook from Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin (The Hope Project, 2003), a cookbook dedicated to a Muslim quarter of Delhi. This recipe first appeared in our August/September 2014 special India issue with Betsy Andrews’ story Perfect Union.
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 large red onion, 1/3 minced, 1/3 thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 cup chana dal (yellow split peas), rinsed, soaked 30 minutes, and drained
- 1⁄3 cup roughly chopped mint
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
- 2 small green Thai chiles or 1 serrano, minced
- 1 (2″) piece ginger, peeled, 1/2 mashed into a paste, 1/2 minced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 lb. ground beef
- 1⁄2 cup minced cilantro
- 1 tbsp. garam masala
- 1 tsp. red chile powder, such as cayenne
- 1⁄2 cup ghee
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook cumin seeds and half the minced onion until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add dal, mint, turmeric, garlic, chiles, ginger paste, salt, and 1½ cups water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until dal is mushy and mixture is slightly dry, about 1 hour. Let cool and transfer to a food processor. Add beef, half the cilantro, the garam masala, chile powder, and salt; purée into a thick paste.
- Stir remaining minced onion and cilantro with minced ginger in a bowl. Using wet hands, divide beef mixture into twenty-eight 1½ oz. balls. Working with 1 ball at a time, press index finger into center to create a pocket. Place ½ tsp. onion mixture inside; pinch edges to seal. Roll into a ball; flatten into a patty. Melt ⅓ cup ghee in a 12″ skillet over medium-high. Working in batches and adding more ghee as needed, cook patties, flipping once, until cooked through and crisp, 4–6 minutes; serve with sliced onion and lime wedges.