Urdu and Shami Kebabs

Shami KebabUrdu:

Remember the last time when you visited home, mom made your favorite pudding. As you gulped the love soaked dessert you wondered what is the secret mom beholds that makes the pudding so heavenly. Urdu is such language. It takes you home and with it’s nuances, politeness and mystic secrecy, immerses you in the luscious sugar syrupy romanticism . It is a language of angels I believe, which leaves you mesmerized. Soft as baby toe, graceful as a new bride Urdu is treat to ears.

Urdu shares sisterly relationship with Hindi, however with subtle differences. Both the languages are derived from ‘Khari Boli’ which is known as Hindustani. In India Urdu is spoken in places with Muslim influence mostly the parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka

As I grew up in Lucknow (capital of Uttar Pradesh), Urdu with all its allure and overload of it’s najakat and nafasat was a major influence.  Urdu is a way of politeness, decorum and propriety. Words in Urdu have layers of representation in terms of politeness. For Example, ‘you’ in english is used to address anyone, however in Urdu there is ‘Tu’- Very informal; almost rude, ‘Tum’ – Informal, used among friends and ‘Aap’- Formal and respectful. Back home people converse friendly with ‘Tum’ but argue elegantly with ‘Aap’. 

I never learnt formal Urdu but growing up in the city of Nawabs, I had my everyday brushes with the language. I grew fonder and fonder of it and ahhh how much I wanted to understand and learn. I started reading. I guess because Urdu provides vocabulary so beautiful and heart touching and a way of exquisiteness that so many poets make it their lover and say poems. I read (read, tried to read) Galib, Faiz, Daag, Kaifi Azmi, Bashir Badr and so many more. Who am I, a mere mortal, to say I understood them; I extracted whatever I could and marveled how a  ‘sher’ of two lines could elevate you to a different mystic cosmos brightened with golden light of setting sun, swept fresh with the first dewy morning breeze and you float like a dove feather in avalanche of emotions. 

My heart melts when Galib says:

ishrate-katra hai dariya mein fanaa ho jaanaa
dard ka had se guzarna hai dvaa ho jaanaa
Hazaaron khwahishen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle
Bohat niklay mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle

A thousand butterflies dance to the rhythm of Bashir Badra when he says:

Palkein bhi chamak uthti hain sote pe humari
Ankhon ko abhi khawab chupane nahi aate.

I read Munnawar Rana recently. He is from Rai bareily barely 80 kms from Lucknow. He writes simple not difficult Urdu and he takes you back home. In his collection of ‘Muhajir Naama’ he bled the pain of leaving home. Something in heart aches and tears up as you glide through the pages of this book.

Humara rasta takte hue pathra gayi hongi
Wo aankhe jinko hum khidki pe rakha chod aaye hain
 Shami Kebab:
To bring home little closer, to cling on whatever remains, i made ‘Shami Kebabs’ the way they are made back home in Lucknow. I do not say this is the best authentic recipe of these kebabs as that is a well kept secret by the family, but yes they taste like Lucknow’s, they taste the best!
 Shami Kebab
Here are some of the tips for making Shami Kebabs:
  • Shami kebabs are made of non fat meat or lean meat; which would be raan or leg meat. I am using mutton, you can very well use lamb or beef.
  • Instead of using minced meat take whole meat and cut it in small pieces. 
  • Slow cook the meat along with lentils and masala over medium flame.
  • Make sure meat is well cooked and all the water is evaporated before making kebab mince.
  • Add salt in the end or it will be difficult to tenderize meat.

Shami Kebab prep1
This is how you make the most amazing shami kebabs.

Shami kebab prep2

Shami-kebab-no bread Egg
Traditionally egg is not used in Shami kebabs, however egg and bread is used widely to bind the meat and for the ease of cooking. I tried these versions to give you perspective on using egg or bread:
Shami Kebab: Without bread or egg: As you can see on the picture, the edges look crumbly. These are delicate to fry and fall apart easy. But taste..umm just pure Kebabs. If You don’t mind looks and want the real unadulterated taste of mutton, go for these. Also if you want to freeze and use for longer time; use these.
Shami-Kebab-Bread no egg


Shami Kebab: Only Bread:
These look better in shape, easier to work around with. Not much of difference in taste and remain intact. These are to be consumed soon as bread can make them go stale soon. I would go for these but that’s just me.

Shami Kebab with Bread and Egg
Shami Kebab: With bread and egg:
These are so easy to work with as you can see in photo. They hold shape. But you can taste a little difference. If you do not want any hassles and want to present pretty looking kebabs, go for these. Again do not add bread or egg if preserving.
Here is the detailed recipe:
Shami Kebabs
Yields 8
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
  1. 1/2 Kg lean Meat (Refer post regarding instructions about meat)
  2. 100 gms Chana Daal
  3. 6-7 Dry red chili (whole)
  4. 6-7 Garlic Clove
  5. 1 inch Ginger
  6. 1 tbsp Whole Coriander Seeds
  7. 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  8. 1/2 tsp Black Pepper corns
  9. 3 Black Cardamom
  10. 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
  11. 4 Cloves
  12. 1/4 tsp Nutmeg and mace powder
  13. 2 Bay leaves
  14. Handful of coriander leaves
  15. Salt to Taste
  16. 2 cups water
  17. 1 Egg
  18. 1 Bread Slice
  1. Soak lentils (Chana daal) in warm water for around 15-20 minutes.
  2. Clean meat and cut in small pieces.
  3. In a pan add meat, chana daal, dry chili, garlic, thinly chopped ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper corns, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves and water. Cover the lid and leave it to on medium flame to cook completely.
  4. Add more water is required to tenderize the meat. It will take around and hour to cook the meat.
  5. When meat is completely cook and all the water is evaporated, take it off the flame and let it cool down
  6. Take off bay leaves and mince the meat mixture to fine paste in a blender.
  7. Add salt, finely chopped coriander leaves, nutmeg and mace powder. Also add bread and egg. As i made three versions, i did not add bread of egg in portion, added only bread in one and both bread and egg in the remaining. You can choose any one of these versions.
  8. Mix all the ingredients very well.
  9. Make flat round patties of the mince. In a skillet heat ghee and shallow fry the patties till golden brown.
Pepper Garlic Kitchen https://www.peppergarlickitchen.com/


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