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Lamb Kabab Recipe (Shammi Kabab)


Lamb Shammi Kababs Recipe

Yields 8 to 9 kababs

Ingredients for kababs:

Lamb (ground/minced) – 1 pound
Bengal gram (chana dal) – 1/4 cup
Red Onion – half a medium sized one, diced small
Ginger – 1 inch piece, chopped fine
Garlic – 9 to 10 cloves, chopped fine
Fresh mint leaves – a scant handful of leaves, chopped fine
Fresh coriander leaves – a scant handful torn from a bunch, chopped fine
Lemon juice – of 1/2 a lemon
Egg, beaten – 1
Ghee (clarified butter) to shallow fry
Canola oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Spices for kababs:

Green cardamoms – 2, little black seeds shelled from their outer green pods
Cinnamon – 1 stick
Cloves – 3
Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon (this is pure chilli powder made from grinding dry chillies)
Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
Black peppercorns – 5-6
Coriander powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon

To serve alongside:

Some slivered red onion, diced cucumber, discs of tomato and wedges or discs of lemon or lime.


– Wash the chana dal and soak it for half an hour.
– In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of canola oil and add the soaked chana dal to the minced/ground meat, along with the cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves. Add about a cup of warm water, season with salt. Cook on medium heat till all the water evaporates.
– Take the pan off the heat, then add the ginger, garlic, red chilli powder, garam masala, peppercorns and coriander and cumin powder.
– Put the mixture into a food processor and grind it to a fine paste to incorporate the additions through.
– Prepare the stuffing by mixing together the onion, mint and coriander leaves and lemon juice. Season with salt.
– In a bowl, beat the egg with a pinch of salt.
– To make the kababs, take a palm-sized portion of ground meat in your hand. Roll into a ball then slightly flatten it. Press slightly down in the center to create a small depression. Fill with about a teaspoon of onion mixture and smooth the ground meat over to cover the stuffed mixture. Repeat the procedure to make the other kababs until all of the meat is used up.
– Heat the ghee in a pan. Pat to flatten the top of the kababs, then dip each into the beaten egg and place into the ghee to shallow fry. Fry till golden then turn over to do the same to the other side. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.

Squeeze some lemon over the kababs and serve along with the green chutney and slivered onions/cucumbers/tomatoes.

Green Chutney Recipe

Makes about 2 cups


Mint – leaves of 1 bunch
Cilantro/coriander – 1 bunch
Red onion – 1,medium sized, quartered
Lime – 1, juiced
Serrano or Thai chillies – 2
Butter – 1 tbsp
Honey – 1/2 tsp
Water to attain a thickish sauce like consistency
Salt to taste


To make the green chutney:

Grind all ingredients together in the food processor, adding just enough water to make a pesto-like sauce.

Cook’s Notes:

The kababs look quite similar to large meatballs (which they sort of are) but they have a very different bite to them. The procedure of forming the kababs can be seen in the photographs. The onion mixture melds into the kabab to impart its flavours to the whole. You can cover the pan with the meat mixture for five minutes before you uncover it to allow the liquids to evaporate. The whole spices get ground in together with the meat to integrally spice it through.

You can use canola oil or unsalted butter to fry the kababs if you don’t have clarified butter. The ghee will, however, add to the singular flavour of this kabab. You can find ghee, Bengal gram and garam masala at your local Indian store. Adding some butter to the chutney gives it a smoothness and also helps preserve it. It will stay a good week in your refrigerator and can be used to accompany a whole host of things. Some may also like ketchup alongside the kababs. Non-traditional, but works quite well.

You may end up with slightly more of the onion mixture with these quantities depending on the size of your kababs. We took thick sourdough slices, applied a dollop of chutney to one slice, mayo to the other, placed a kabab in between with some of the leftover onion stuffing on top and made awesome sandwiches out of the leftover kababs the next day.

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23 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Wow, an authentic Indian Lamb Kebab recipe1 I’d like to try this, what can I use in place of Bengal gram? MI don’t have the individual spices, may I use meat masala for the kebab seasoning?

    • Momgateway – Regarding the meat masala, yes go for it. The flavour will change depending on the mixture of spices in your masala but it should still taste good.
      Regarding replacing the bengal gram, I’m not sure, but here’s a suggestion (it’s what I’d do if I didn’t have chana dal). you could try using an eighth of a cup of chickpea flour instead. There will be a diffence in texture, but I think it will come together well. Please bear in mind, I’m only a home cook, so this isn’t professional advice. Good luck!

  2. Kate

    I agree with you, Indian food is delicious but very hard to make. Just the different spices alone are enough to confuse me! This lamb kabab recipe looks AWESOME. I am hungry at the thought of the taste and the spices in it. Drool. Good job Cheeky Chilli.

  3. momgateway – sure, you can use a meat masala blend for the spices. It won’t exactly taste the same but should still be pretty tasty. I wouldn’t recommend substituting the Bengal gram though. The mixture of meat and Bengal gram is what makes this a shammi kabab. It should be very easy to find at any Indian store.

    Kate – Thank you for the kudos! I know the number of spices in Indian food can seem like a lot but the procedures are often very simple. This recipe took about 45 minutes (plus half hour to soak the dal). Also often you can get away with not having one or two of the spices that the recipe calls for. Their nuanced flavour is then absent from the completed dish but it will still taste great. Whole spices are available in smaller amounts in Indian stores and will often last into the next Ice Age! They bring amazing layers of flavour to all kinds of food. I do hope you will give Indian food a try :)

  4. These do sound good! I’m honestly somewhat scared to cook Indian food, only because I can’t figure out what all the ingredients are. Perhaps I just need to write them down and head to my nearest Indian grocery (we have several around) and dive in! I love to eat it – I just don’t always know what’s in everything! Shame on me for being so timid about it – I’m all embracing of so many other dishes.

  5. You’ve just reminded me to cook Indian food more often as I’m not too good at it … I think …

    Anyhow, Happy Thanksgiving … though we’re both Malaysian LOL!


  6. Ainee

    Hi Bee & Sharmila,

    Thanks for the recipe on lamb kebabs. I will certainly try making some real soon.

    And Bee;

    Thank you very much for sharing the numerous recipes with all of us. While i love cooking, I must admit I’m more a pastry and cake person. However, I will certainly try some of the recipes you shared so far;the most immediate would be the fried wanton; its my hubby’s favourite.


  7. Stew

    i made this for thanksgiving, the flavor was great, but the texture seemed off as the kebabs were a little “flaky” and didnt stay together as a patty. any suggestions?

  8. Hi Stew,
    Glad you liked them. Sorry you had a problem with the texture, especially since this happened at a meal as crucial as the one at Thanksgiving. These kababs are a bit soft and will not be as firm as burger patties or meat balls would be. They are of a melting texture. However they should still stay whole. Here’s a couple of things that may work to keep them together.
    1. Grind the meat and dal thoroughly together to form a homogeneous, almost a grainy paste-like mixture. This reduces the chance of elements separating in the heat of cooking.
    2. Put in just about a scant teaspoon of filling to make sure the kababs aren’t overstuffed. Cover over evenly to seal in the filling.
    3. Press the finished patty firmly then coat it evenly with egg. This is about the only binding agent in this recipe.
    4. Be gentle while handling them to turn over. This will prevent them breaking apart under pressure.
    I do hope these help with the issue. I do hope it didn’t dissuade you from trying them again. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Ger Sexton

    That’s a really nice recipe but I would definately put more spices… at least 5ml cumin and coriander (freshly ground)… use freshly made garam masala and u could then sub the cinnamon with ground (about 1/2 tea spoon each) and the cloves for gound… and buckets more cardamoms… that’s if u like curries :-), p.s. no need to roast the spices b4 u grind… and i’d defo use cayenne pepper instead of chilli powder. O’h and crush the garlic and grate the ginger. So much hard work :-)

  10. Iza

    I just want to drop a few words. I have to say that this website is ONE OF THE BEST websites I have ever seen in my life!!!! Seriously!!!! I have always found all the greatest recipes in here. I really admire your work and effort into this. The recipes are great and yummy….
    You are definitely the best source of inspiration to me when it comes for cooking!

    Thank you so much for this awesome website.

    Keep it up!


  11. Julien

    Hi, love your website! It’s my favorite kind of food.
    Shammi means Damascus, Syria style. Sham is the other name for Damascus.
    Thik of it, this recipe is like falafel(Syria’s favorite food)with meat added to it.

  12. Julien

    haven’t finished yet:
    please correct “thik” to be think
    Also I wouldn’t precook the meat, only the chana dal and incorporate the egg in the mixture to avoid any break up during the frying.
    Thanks anyway.

  13. abang jelan


    Actually Sham or ‘Bilad As-Sham’ in arabic is ancient name of area today includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Isreal.

    Shammi is arabic way of naming the thing related to its place of origin.

    Sham is also sometime referred to as ‘Levant’ in Judeo-Christian literature.

    Damascus is Damascus. it was the part of Sham but it not Sham by itself.

  14. I found this recipe today and made this fabulous dish tonight and I found myself actually saying that this is one of the best meat dishes I’ve ever had. It was absolutely divine! So delicate and delicious. I served it with amaranth and cucumbers with a mint kefir dressing. The whole thing together was just incredible! I’ll be making it again and posting tony site as well! Thank you for such a fabulous recipe!

  15. Hi, I made these for some guests today, I didn’t boil the lamb mince , I boiled the bengal gram with cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves then when that was cooked, I blended in a food processor the rest of the spices and raw lamb made and filled my patties fried them in ghee and topped them with a small omelette with a small teaspoon of the mint onion and coriander mix in the omelette, they went down a storm, I would definitely say raw mixture was easier to handle ..
    Thanks gorgeous receipe though ..

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