Pakistani Shami Kababs (served with a green chutney) were the perfect start to our International Cuisine meal.
Pakistani Shami kababs, sometimes spelled Shammi or Shani, are a staple on the streets of Pakistan. They are often made of chicken although mutton is also commonly used. They are a soft, silky, treat, packed with rich flavors garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and of course some heat from chili peppers. These are a delectable appetizer, especially when accompanied with green coriander chutney.
Kababs come in many varieties and these are made into little patties. Often, when we think of Kebabs, we think of meat on skewers, but the truth is Kebabs( or Kababs) come in many different forms. These Pakistani Shami Kababs are made with chicken that is first cooked and then finely pounded with the mixture of spices, using a mortar and pestle.
Historian Lizzie Collingham in her book Curry: A tale of cooks and conquerors , talks about the Shami Kebab at length, here is one anecdote that I enjoyed.
Nawab Asaf-ud-Dulah’s love of food is also said to have led to the invention of the Shami kebab. This is one of Lucknow’s many contributions to kebab cookery. (Lucknow is a large city in Northern India)
Indeed, Asaf-ud-Dulah became so fat that he could no longer ride a horse. He managed to gain vast amounts of weight despite the fact that his ability to chew was compromised by the loss of his teeth. Shami kebabs are supposed to have been created in order to accommodate this problem.
Shami Kababs are often served with a tomato chutney like ketchup, or a green chutney, which I made. Delicious.
These Shami kababs are freezeable, before you fry them, so you can always have a batch on hand for an unexpected visitor or a quick lunch. They are also delicious in a sandwich, simply wrapped in a piece of naan bread. (Lesson learned, If you do freeze them don’t let them thaw all the way out before you fry them up or they tend to fall apart.)
Shami kababs are not only loved in Pakistan but also loved in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. If you like this recipe be sure to check out the other neighboring countries for more delicious recipe ideas.
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Pakistani Shami Kababs
- 2 lbs Chicken pieces with bone and skin
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup yellow split peas rinsed and soaked if necessary
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 1 head garlic peeled
- 2 inches ginger sliced
- 5 green chilies
- 5 red chilies dried
- 2 cubes Chicken bouillon
- 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 3 cinnamon Sticks
- 3 black or green cardamom Seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 5 Tbsp Coriander, Fresh
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- mint leaves optional
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil for frying
For the Green Chutney
- 1 cup coriander, fresh
- 1/8 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 green chilies
- 1 Tbsp yogurt. full fat or greek
- 1 tsp salt or more to taste
- Rinse the yellow split peas and soak if necessary per package directions
- In a large pot or wok add in the four cups of water and chicken pieces and turn on heat to medium high.
- Add in the split peas, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilies, cardamon, chicken bouillon, cinnamon, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, salt and pepper. Mix well, bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer and let cook for about 45 minutes. .
- Remove the chicken to de-bone it while allowing the ingredients to continue to cook in the pot. It is is easy to use two forks remove the skin and shred the chicken from the bone. When finished add it back into the pot
- Mix well and cook until the split peas are tender. Turn off heat and remove the cinnamon sticks.
- In a mortar and pestle pound the mixture a little bit at a time until you get a smooth consistency. Put in a bowl and add in the fresh coriander and mint if using. If you like heat you add a couple more chopped green chilies as well. Mix well.
- Using you clean hands pick up a small handful of the mixture and roll into a ball, (about the size of a golf ball) Flatten the ball to make a patty. Set the patties on a plate. Repeat until all the mixture is gone.
- Whisk two eggs into a bowl large enough to dunk the Kababs.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil on medium high, dunk the kabab into the egg and then fry them just a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove with spatula and set on paper towel to remove any excess oil.
- Serve hot with ketchup or green chutney.
For the green chutney
- Put all the ingredients except the yogurt into a food processor or blender to combine all the ingredients. Once all combined put into a bowl and stir in the yogurt. Taste for salt and serve with the hot shami kabab's.