Cooking with meat for the first time in the series, chapli kebabs felt like an interesting choice combining familiar and foreign elements. The origins of this dish are Peshawar, the centre of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a region that is famed for its rice dishes, haleem and chapli kebabs. Unlike their sister provinces, Punjab and Sindh they are more fragrant with their spices and focus on highlighting the flavour of the meat.
One thing that has become more and more apparent to me throughout the learning process is whether it’s making chaat or kebab there is no better tool than your hands. Eating with your hands is beneficial too, with it being a common practice in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. You can feel the texture and experience taste without the barrier of metallic spoons and forks.
I hope you give something you haven’t tried before a chance, new cuisines, new flavours and new recipes.
Serves 8-12 people
- 1kg beef mince (lamb can be used as well)
- 20g fresh ginger
- 20g fresh garlic
- 4 green jalapenos chillis
- 2½ white onions
- 20g spring onions
- 1 large tomato
- 1tsp ground turmeric
- 1tsp jeera (ground cumin)
- 1tsp daniya (ground dried coriander)
- 1½ salt
- 3tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds)
- 2tbsp lemon juice
- 2tsp garam masala
- 1tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3tsp Shan chapli kebab masala powder
- 3tsp natural yoghurt
- 2tbsp corn flour
- 1tbsp wholemeal brown flour
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 medium sized eggs
- 36g fresh mint
- 20g fresh coriander
- 1tsp salt
- 2tbsps natural yoghurt
- 1 green chilli
- 1tsp ginger, garlic and chilli paste (this is detailed in the kebab recipe steps)
- 50ml water
- 150g live set yoghurt
- Starting with the star trio of the flavour world, roughly chop up the garlic, ginger and 4 green chillis. Pop them into a food processor with a little water to make a paste. Put aside 1tsp of this for the mint chutney and the rest will be used for the main stars, which are the kebabs.
- You’ll get a chance to sharpen up your chopping skills now, dice the white onions, spring onions and tomato (be careful to peel the skin off the tomato as we don’t want to add this into the mix).
- Using the best cooking utensils there are, your hands place your mince in a large bowl (we need to fit everything in here so make sure it’s large enough to avoid transferring later). Add the paste from step 1, both types of onion and tomato. Mix thoroughly to ensure the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
- Now is spice time, cue the turmeric, jeera, daniya, salt, anardana lemon juice, garam masala, red chilli powder, black pepper, yoghurt and the chapli kebab masala powder. I think making a well in the mix to add all of the ingredients works best. Make it a workout and really mix everything well, you want each mouthful to burst with flavour. Although some might argue that making the kebabs with a prepackaged powder isn’t a completely purist approach, I find that this masala adds a slight spice and sourness that complements the other ingredients I’ve used well. It’s completely up to you whether you want to do everything from scratch or take some shortcuts, do whatever works for you.
- After all this hard work, it’s key that the kebabs don’t fall apart when the cooking begins. To ensure this, the binding ingredients are added at this stage, the favourite four to do this are corn flour, wholemeal brown flour and plain flour and eggs. Knead the meat as though it were dough until everything has bound together.
- Now the kebabs will be created, use some vegetable oil to grease your hands; it will avoid the mixture sticking to them. Grab a golf ball size amount of mix and flatten it out into a circular shape, it doesn’t need to be perfect but the chapli signature is thin and lightly spiced circles. You can cook them straight away or freeze some for another day.
- Heat up some vegetable oil in a shallow pan; cook the kebabs on a high heat until they turn a dark brown colour. My family prefers well-done meat so it took around 15-20 mins for mine to cook. A good tip is to do a few at a time being careful to not let them turn black, burnt kebabs will have more of charcoal than chapli taste.
- Whilst the meaty morsels cool, we can quickly whip together the mint chutney. Simply grind together the mint, coriander, salt, natural yoghurt, chilli and ginger, garlic and chilli paste and water. This mix is packed with concentrated flavour so it’s up to you how much you want to dilute it with the live set yoghurt (this has a more sour flavour that works well with the mint but you can use natural if you prefer). This stores well in the fridge and can be enjoyed with a variety of snacks including samosas, pakoras and chaat.
- Plate up the chapli kebabs sizzling hot and enjoy 🙂