Like the Seekh Kebab, Shami Kebab is another variety of kebab that never fails to fascinate the Indian subcontinent. It is an integral part of the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisines, and it constitutes of a small patty of minced meat (generally beef, but occasionally lamb or mutton as well), with ground chickpeas, eggs (a binding agent), and a variety of spices.
The popular etymology in Pakistan is that the name Shami Kebab may refer to Bilad al-Sham, the modern Syria, as many cooks from that region migrated to the wealthy Mughal Empire during the Middle Ages. While the popular etymology in India is that the name refers to “sham” which means “evening” in Urdu and Hindi languages.
Shami Kebab is eaten as a snack or an appetiser. It is served to guests especially in the regions of Hyderabad Deccan, Punjab, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Sindh. The patty is often garnished with lemon juice and served with sliced raw onions as a side salad, and may be eaten with chutney made from mint or coriander. They are also served along with sheer khurma during Eid celebrations.
Shami Kebabs are prepared using boiled or sautéed meat (mutton or chicken) and chickpeas (chana daal) with whole hot spices (garam masala, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves), ginger, garlic and some salt to taste until thoroughly tender. Onions, turmeric, chilli powder, egg, chopped green coriander, chopped green chillies and chopped mint leaves may be added in preparing kebab. Garam masala powder (ground spices) may be used in place of whole hot spices.
The cooked meat is then ground in such a way that is fibrous and does not become a paste. It is then shaped into diamond or round patties and is shallow fried. With an increase in vegetarianism and vegans, various new methods and recipes of making Shami Kebab have emerged in the subcontinent.
So, the celebrated patty is no longer the preserve of the non-vegetarians. Soon, you will find kebabs made of vegetable mash and soybean holding the spotlight in food festivals.