India is truly the land of spectacular mouthwatering kebabs (meats roasted on a skewer or pounded fried meat). The art of Mughal-style kebab making was developed in the kitchens of the caliphs of Baghdad and perfected in Lucknow and Hyderabad, where kebab-makers mastered hundreds of variations of chicken, lamb, seafood, vegetables, cheese, and legume kebabs.
Ground Chicken Kebab (Reshmi Murgh Kebab)
¾ cup raw unsalted cashew nuts
2¼ pounds ground chicken
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground white peppercorns
4 tablespoons corn oil
1 teaspoon roasted Mughal-style Garam Masala
1½-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped fine
¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
½ cup melted butter for basting
Whisk the eggs in a small bowl.
In a spice grinder, grind the cashew nuts to a fine powder.
In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken, salt, eggs, cumin, chili powder, pepper, and oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15 minutes. Combine the ground cashews, garam masala, chopped ginger, onions, and cilantro leaves with the chicken. Divide the chicken mixture into eight equal portions and form into smooth balls.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF or prepare the barbecue grill.
Using a wet hand, spread each ball along the length of a 12-inch steel skewer at least 1 inch apart.
Oil a deep baking pan. Brush each skewer with some melted butter and place on the baking pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 8–10 minutes.
Remove the foil and baste with melted butter. Turn the skewers over and bake for 8–10 minutes until evenly brown and tender.
Baste with melted butter. Cut into 1-inch pieces and skewer on toothpicks. Serve hot with naan, mint chutney, and cucumber in yogurt.
Mughal-Style Garam Masala (Mughalai Garam Masala)
Makes 1 cup
1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
6 black cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded
12 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded
½ cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon ground mace
½ teaspoon dry ginger
½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
Heat a small skillet over high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir occasionally with a spatula for 3-4 minutes until the spices change color to a darker shade and release their distinct aromas.
Grind to a fine powder and store in an airtight container.
Check out my cookbooks Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.