Mummy’s Shami Kabab

Crispy from the outside, soft from inside. My mummy’s shami kababs are unbeatable.

My mummy’s shami kababs are famous with the whole extended family. What’s special about her kababs is that they are moist from inside and have a crispy outer layer. The texture is soft and the spices are just on point.

5 mistakes to avoid when making shami kababs

  • Wrong ratio of beef and chana daal: For good tasting shami kababs, the ratio of beef and chana dal is crucial. Too little chana daal will result in the kabab mixture being too runny. The kababs will not bind together and will be difficult to shape and fry. If there is too much chana daal, the kababs turn out very dry. This also results in the kababs soaking up too much oil while being fried. Keep the ration 1:10- for every kilo of beef, take 100 grams of chana daal.
  • Not soaking chana daal beforehand: If you skipped soaking the chana daal, it will not cook properly. The grains will not get completely tender even after cooking and you will not be able to achieve a smooth consistency of the shami kababs.
  • Adding water to the kabab mixture: The meat and onion contain a good percentage of liquid which is sufficient to cook the kabab mixture (in a pressure cooker). There is no need to add any additional water to it (unless you are using a traditional/normal pot to cook).
  • Frying in too much oil: Putting too much oil while frying will result in greasy kababs. Use a non-stick pan so you can fry with minimal oil without worrying about the kababs sticking onto the pan.
  • Frying on high heat: If you want the kababs to turn out crispy on the outside and soft from inside, use low heat for frying. Using high heat will not give you the desired results.

Can these shami kababs be frozen?

Yes, the shami kababs are absolutely freezer friendly. In fact, I never make a small batch because it takes time and effort to make the kababs. It makes so much sense to make these in bulk and freeze some for later use.

To freeze, shape the kababs and put them into an airtight container in layers. Put a baking paper between each layer so the kababs won’t stick to each other. You can freeze them up to 6 weeks.

When needed, you can directly fry the frozen kababs on low heat. No need to defrost before frying.

Watch the video below to easily follow the recipe

Ingredients at a glance

Mummy’s Shami Kababs

Want to get the perfect shami kababs every time? This is the recipe to follow.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Soaking time 5 hours
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Indian
Servings 10


  • 3 medium onion
  • 1 medium garlic (whole)
  • 1 kg boneless beef (cut into chunks/cubes)
  • 100 grams (½ cup) chana daal (soaked for at least 5 hours)
  • 5 cm piece ginger
  • 2 tsp salt

Whole spices:

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 2 (3 cm) pieces cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 dried red chilies

Other ingredients:

  • a handful fresh coriander
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 Tbsp rapeseed oil/olive oil


  • Peel and split 2 onions in half. Peel the ginger.
  • If using instant pot: Add the beef, chana daal, onion halves, ginger, garlic, salt and all the whole spices into the instant pot. Mix everything well. Set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. Then release the pressure and open the lid.
    If using pressure cooker: Add the beef, chana daal, onion halves, ginger, garlic, salt and all the whole spices into the pressure cooker. Mix everything well. Cook for about 40-50 minutes on low heat.
    If using a normal pot (on stovetop): Add the beef, chana daal, onion halves, ginger, garlic, salt and all the whole spices into the pot. Mix everything well. Cook on low heat for about 90 minute. Check after every 30 minutes. If it looks too dry, add just a small quantity of water.
  • Check the meat for doneness. It should be really soft and tender. Using tongs, remove the garlic, onion, bay leaves and black cardamom from the pot and discard.
  • Prepare a large bowl by placing a big sieve onto it. Pass the prepared kabab mixture through the sieve, separating the solids from the liquid. Put it aside to cool down for a few minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, roughly chop the remaining onion and the coriander and green chili. Add these to a chopper/food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Transfer them onto a large tray.
  • Now, add the cooled down mixture into the chopper/food processor and whizz until a smooth and homogenous mixture is formed. You may have to do this in batches. Scrape down the sides from time to time to get an even mixture. Transfer the mixture into the same tray as the chopped veggies.
  • Add the garam masala and half cup of the strained liquid (earlier from kabab mixture). Use your hands to knead and mix everything together until a soft and homogenous mixture is achieved.
  • Take a small portion of the kabab mixture onto your hand and start forming a ball. Flatten it by pressing between your palms and even out the edges to make flat disks. You can lightly moisten your hands to keep it from sticking. Keep the kababs similar in shape and size so they fry evenly. If you want to freeze the kababs, you can do it at this point (read instructions to freeze above).
  • Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and add the oil. Once the pan is hot, place the kababs onto it and fry on low heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until the kababs turn brown. Add a few more drops of oil if needed.
  • Serve with green chutney and marinated onion.
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. SeLeghari says:

    When do you add the egg? Do you add it into the mix, or dip the prepared kebab before frying?

    1. There are no eggs required for this recipe. I like the crust of my shami kabab crispy and do not coat it with eggs. If you want, you could do that.

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