Shami kebab are beef patties made with boneless beef, chana daal (split bengal gram), onion, spices and herbs. This recipe makes a large batch so eat some right now, and freeze the rest for later.Jump to Recipe
There was a time when shami kebabs were reserved for special occasions – when guests are over or it was a fancy dinner at home. Those were the days when the meat for the shami kebab was painstakingly ground by hand with a sil batta. Similar in concept to a mortar and pestle, the sil is a flat stone and the batta is the cylindrical grinding stone that is used to ground spices, vegetables or in the case of shami kebab pieces of cooked boneless beef.
With the advent of the food processor, the process to make shami kebabs has become much easier and it’s typical for every Pakistani family to have a batch in the freezer. Just the thing for impromptu guests, a quick snack or dinner. They can be eaten as is (with chutney on the side of course), made into a sandwich, eaten with roti and chili garlic sauce (my favourite) or eaten on the side with daal chawal.
I can’t even count the number of times shami kebab was my answer to what to make for dinner!
How to make Shami Kebab?
- Boil diced boneless beef with onion, garlic, spices and soaked chana daal till tender. This can be done on the stovetop or pressure cooker. The mixture must be dry in the end, so be careful when adding the water for boiling.
- Pulse the meat and lentils mixture till shredded. Don’t process too much as you want the meat to have texture (or raisha as we call it in Urdu)
- Pulse the hara masala (onion, coriander, green chilies, garlic and ginger) in the food processor.
- Mix the hara masala with the meat; add an egg and breadcrumbs (if needed) and shape into kebabs.
- Fry and/or keep it in the freezer.
The origin of Shami Kebab
The origin of shami kebab is attributed to a Mughal emperor who loved to eat, but couldn’t as he had lost all his teeth. So the cooks came up with the dish that we now call shami kebab – minced meat mixed with daal and spices ground into a paste, and then fried. Crisp on the outside, velvety smooth inside.
What's your favourite way to enjoy shami kebab?
Looking for more Pakistani & Indian recipes for your weekly dinner inspiration. Check out the following:
- Ginger Chicken, Pakistani style
- Murghi ka Salan (Chicken curry with Onions and Tomatoes)
- Karahi Chicken
- Lobia ka Salan (Black eyed peas in curry)
- Aloo Gosht (Mutton Curry with Potatoes) - Stovetop & Pressure Cooker method
For the beef mixture
- ½ kg boneless beef diced
- 1 cup chana daal split bengal gram or split brown chickpeas
- 2 small onion
- 8 - 10 garlic cloves
- 1 inch piece ginger
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed (optional - coriander powder can be used instead)
- 4 - 5 cloves
- 4 black cardamom bari elaichi
- 3 one-inch stick cinnamon
- 15 - 20 black peppercorns
- 8 - 10 round red chilies
- 2 teaspoon salt
Hara masala (Fresh herbs)
- 4 medium onion chopped into quarters
- 2 inch piece ginger
- 6 - 8 green chilies
- 1 bunch coriander
- 1 egg
- ½ cup breadcrumbs optional (adjust as needed)
- Oil for frying
- Wash the chana daal (split bengal gram or split brown chickpeas) and soak for a few hours.
- In a large pot, add all the ingredients mentioned in the beef mixture (beef, whole spices, onion, garlic and ginger) except for the chana daal (split bengal gram or split brown chickpeas). Add water and put to boil.
- Once the beef is 50 - 60% done (about 55 minutes or so), add the chana daal and cook both of them together till beef and chana daal are tender, and water has dried. It will take about 1.5 - 2 hours for the beef to be tender. It’s important to make sure the water has evaporated else the shami kebab mixture will be wet. Remove the beef and daal mixture and let it cool. Remove the whole spices at this stage if you want.
Multi cooker / Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Instructions
- Wash the chana daal and set it aside. Do not soak.
- Add all the beef kebab ingredients with 1 cup water and pressure cook for about 20 - 22 minutes. I use the Philips Viva 2137 multi-cooker, and this is the time that it takes me, but the time may differ based on the model you use.
- Release pressure and cook for a few minutes on saute / sear mode till the water evaporates and mixture is dry.
- I have noticed that when I soak and cook the chana daal in the pressure cooker, it can turn too mushy. That's why I add unsoaked chana daal. In case the daal isn't soft enough when you pressure cook it, soak it for an hour and then pressure cook with the beef
After cooking instructions
- Roughly chop the onions, ginger, green chilies and coriander. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add beef and lentils mixture and pulse till the beef is shredded. If you pulse too much, the mixture will become pasty so be careful. Remove and set aside in a bowl.
- In the same food processor add the roughly chopped green masala and pulse for a few seconds till finely diced.
- Add to the beef mixture and mix through. Taste and adjust seasonings, if required at this point.
- Add the egg and bread crumbs (if using) to the beef mixture. If mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs and/or flour.
- Shape into round patties, and set aside on a tray. This recipe will make about 20 - 24 shami kebab, so it's best to freeze them if you are not eating them right away.
- To fry the shami kebab heat oil in a frying pan. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes each side till golden brown. Turn the shami kebab only when they are brown on one side, else they can break apart.
- Enjoy hot with chai, with roti, chawal or in a sandwich.
How to freeze shami kebab
- Grease a baking tray. Shape the beef mixture into round patties, and keep on the baking tray ensuring that the patties don’t touch each other. Keep the shami kebab in the freezer for a few hours till frozen. Once the shami kebab are frozen, remove them from the tray and place in a plastic bag. Some people defrost them, but I just take them out of the freezer and fry them directly.
- The reason for adding the chana daal later in the cooking process is that the beef takes time to cook. If both are added together, the chana daal can turn quite soft and mushy.
- I have noticed that when I soak and cook the chana daal in the pressure cooker, it can turn too mushy. That's why I add unsoaked chana daal. In case the daal isn't soft enough when you pressure cook it, soak it for an hour and then pressure cook with the beef.
Yes, you can. In fact, I regularly make chicken shami kebab. Just use chicken breast or chicken thighs. The procedure will be the same but the cooking time will be reduced (it will take about 40 - 45 minutes for the chicken to be tender). Additionally, for chicken shami kebab the chana daal and chicken can be added at the same time as chicken cooks quickly.