Kebabs are a delicious and healthy treat that have always been a family hit. There are innumerable varieties of kebabs around the world, that are prepared and served in different ways, depending upon the culture and traditions of the region. We have our adaptations of kebabs with different spices and ingredients always prepared in the same age-old tradition. Smoked, pickled and baked and tandoori (cooked in a clay oven) – you just name it! The original kebabs had meat as the prime ingredient. However, today we have kebabs of different textures, tastes and flavors and even a vegetarian version to cater to everyone’s tastebuds.
I have inherited a recipe that has blended our love for meat with the fiery Indian spices. I have experimented with the recipe, over and over, to create a new age version of healthy kebabs.
(Simple kitchen ingredients which are readily available in every Indian store around the corner.)
Minced meat (preferably lamb) - 1/2 kg: Hang the meat (for 5 minutes) in a muslin cloth and allow the excess water to drain out.
Chickpeas (split gram) -1/3 cup: Wash and soak the chickpeas for 1 hour
Ginger – chopped 1 tbsp
Garlic – chopped 1 tsp
Onions – diced 3 whole
Chilli powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Green chillies - whole 3-4
Salt to taste
Black cardamom - 2
Bay leaves - 2
Cinnamon sticks - 2
Cloves - 2
Fresh coriander leaves - finely chopped 1/3 cup
Fresh lime juice - 3 or 4 tbsp
Put the meat, the chickpeas and the spices (ginger, garlic, onion, cardamom, cinnamom, cloves and the bay leaves) in a container. Cover with a lid and allow it to boil on slow heat. Even after draining the excess water out, the meat still has enough moisture to cook the mix. The juice also cooks the already soaked chickpeas. Keep stirring so that it doesn't start to stick on the bottom and get burnt. You may have to sprinkle little water if the juice has dried up and the mix is still not cooked. The chickpeas and the meat will get tender when the juice dries up to give a semi-solid consistency. This takes about 10 minutes.
Remove the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamom, cloves and the bay leaves), add salt and the red chilli powder and make a thick paste in the grinder without adding any water. The texture shouldn't be too fine. You should be able to get the meat particles with each bite. Then, add the chopped green chillies, coriander leaves and the lemon juice and mix it well.
Divide the meat mixture into equal parts. It should be around 25 small portions. Take a portion of the paste and roll it into a ball and flatten it between your palms to form nice patties.
Brush the moderately heated frying pan with a small amount of clarified butter or white oil. Place the flattened portions delicately and allow them to fry till they change color. Turn and fry the other side. Repeat this a couple of times more till the kebabs get a little burnt and smoky and you can smell the flavour all around you. Serve with fresh lime wedges, fresh onion rings and green chillies.
My mother’s version
My mom has her version which is more rich, creamier and has more calories, but absolutely delicious to eat. She flattens the kebabs slightly in the center like a small cup and fills it with cream or yogurt and saffron and seals it off with the kebab mixture to form a flat, round pattie. She then dips each portion in beaten eggs and fries it in clarified butter until golden brown.
Although my adaptation of the kebab is healthier, my mom is closer to the original recipe and of course more delicious. Nonetheless, we enjoy all varieties of kebabs. They are not just kebabs that we relish but things that bring back fond memories.
The calorie count
The way I prepare kebabs is quite healthy and considering that they are small and that we do not eat many at one time, keep it low on the calorie count. Each kebab has a calorie count of about 64 Kcal and I can eat 4 at the most.
Approximate total calories in 100g (4 pieces) of kebab:
Calories - 256.0kcal
Carbohydrate - 7.8g
Protein - 17.4g
Fat - 17.0g
Fibre - 2.3g
Pick your ingredients from reliable stores and clean them before use.
Cook the mix on slow heat since you are not adding any extra water.
The ground mix is very delicate and to avoid a mess, grease your palms with oil. This will help you make uniform kebabs.
If the mix gets too loose, you can add white flour or gram flour to tighten it.
Make sure you allow one side to cook enough before changing to the other.
Just before you think it is done, cook on high flame for a few seconds and then remove from the frying pan.
Microwaving the kebabs helps in lessening the calories and it's easier and faster.
Plate it while still hot and eat it slowly since the longer you take the more you get to enjoy the flavors.