An Enticing Parsi Snack
Aromatic and addictive, these Indian spice kebabs are a great back-pocket recipe to have. Kavabs are the Parsi version of a kebab/kabab, and their Persian based cuisine is loved by Parsis and non-Parsis alike. For more information about this religion, Peri Avari of Peri’s Spice Ladle has an excellent Parsi food blog with a post about Parsi food.
Indian Spiced Kebabs
Based on Peri Avari’s Parsi kavab recipe, it is easy, can be baked, and works well with any ground meat of your choice. Or, go the vegetarian route with some firm tofu crumbles. Because these kebabs are bound with mashed potatoes, this healthy snack or appetizer doesn’t require much additional fat for moisture. You can triple the size and sandwich it into a bun, freshened up with some thin, crisp slices of cucumber. Add a slice or two of tomato, and slather with your favorite chutney, or Heinz ketchup, and you have a satisfying weeknight meal.
I have changed the method of cooking the meat before shaping it into kebabs. Rather than using raw meat, I’ve cooked it before using so that I don’t have to get the kebabs up to a safe temperature. The other tweak I made was to temper the spices in ghee. I hope Ms. Avari is not horrified by these changes.
Oh, and by the way—This recipe is one of the top 20 dishes that are Indian favorites. Take a look!
See the Notes below before you cook.
Indian Spiced Kebabs (Kavab)
- 1/2 pound potatoes ~ Washed and peeled
- 1 pound ground meat
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup onion ~ Minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste ~ Or 1 tablespoon each minced or grated ginger & garlic
- 2 small Indian chilies ~ Minced, 1 teaspoon or 2 teaspoons serrano; more to taste!
- 3/4 teaspoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ Or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup cilantro ~ Or mint, or a combination, chopped
- 1 teaspoons sea or table salt ~ Substitutions; more or less to taste
- 1/4 cup flour ~ AP wheat flour, chickpea flour (besan), or rice flour
- 1 large egg ~ Well beaten
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil ~ Divided as needed for baking or shallow frying
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chaat masala
- chutneys ~ Your favorite, buy or make
- Place the potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are just tender, testing with a sharp knife or fork. Drain and let cool.
- While the potatoes are cooking, in a medium sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon ghee or oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and sauté for a minute or two, until they turn a shade darker.
- Immediately add the onions and cook until translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the ginger garlic paste and the green chilies. Cook another 2 minutes, or until the paste no longer smells raw. Add a little water if needed to prevent sticking.
- Stir in the red chili, coriander, cumin, and turmeric, and cook for another two minutes.
- Mix in the ground meat or tofu, and sauté until cooked through. Move mixture to a large bowl and add the mashed potatoes, salt, lemon juice, and cilantro (and mint, if using). Stir well.
- At this point you would ideally cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I typically skip this step, but it does make the kebabs hold together better. This meat mix can be made up to a day in advance.
- Right before cooking, add the flour you are using and a well-beaten egg to the meat mixture.
- Using your hands or a cookie scoop, shape 2 tablespoons size balls of the mixture, and flatten into a round disk. Or make burger sized kebabs!
Pan Fry or Bake
- Add one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy on the outside.
- If you are frying the small appetizer-sized kebabs, you will need to do this in 2 batches. After the first batch, wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the second batch.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and generously oil a baking sheet.
- Place kebabs on a baking sheet and brush them on both sides with oil. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the kebabs are nicely browned.
- Drizzle with lemon juice, or sprinkle of chaat masala, as you wish.
- Serve with your favorite chutneys.
- Toast the buns in butter in a large pan. Brush date and tamarind chutney and/or mint chutney on both sides of the buns and layer with thinly sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion (lightly pickled or not), and pile on some sev (or even potato chips) for crunch. A slice of tomato would not go amiss. Makes 4 to 6 burgers depending on how large you make them.
- This recipe requires that you refrigerate the meat and potato mixture for shaping, so plan accordingly. You can also make it up the day before if that works better for your schedule. I have skipped the refrigerator step and the kebabs are a bit more fragile and crumbly, but if you are short on time, it is still a workable mixture.
- To make this kebab vegan, use well-drained firm or extra firm tofu.
- Depending on whether you use meat or tofu, and you may want to swap out the cilantro for fresh mint; especially when using ground lamb.
- Cook the potatoes until just soft, you don’t want them waterlogged.
- The recommended binder for these kebabs is semolina flour, and since I didn’t have that I used regular flour. If you want to go gluten-free, use chickpea flour (besan) or rice flour.
- Indian spiced kebabs are one of the Top 20 Dishes in India, enjoy!