Monday, September 15, 2008

Shammi Koftas

Shammi koftas (pronounced Shummi).

My father had a good friend and fellow officer, who was from Hyderabad. When the latter's daughter got married, we were invited to Hyderabad for the wedding.
Till then I'd thought every wedding was grand, but this one outdid all the others I had been to with it's pomp and pageantry.
Add to this, the wonderful, thoughtful, old-world courtly treatment we received in the Bride's home and you'll know why we felt like Royalty.
Hyderabadis are famous for their courtly manners and wonderful hospitality.
Never had I seen so many meat dishes served at every meal, starting with breakfast (3), lunch (4) and dinner which was just a feast each of the four nights the ceremonies went on for.
This recipe, was one my Mom got then, and we have made this dish part of our family's recipe collection.

It has two versions after the first part of the recipe to make it possible for both the advanced and beginner/intermediate cook to try.
This also my entry for: Announcing RCI: Authentic Hyderabadi Cuisine.

2 lbs kima/lean ground lamb (I use lean ground turkey here in the US.)
1/2 cup channa dal/ Bengal gram lentils.
1/2 large onion chopped.
1" piece ginger,peeled and chopped.
1" piece cinnamon.
3 cloves
3 red chillies
3 green chillies.
1 Tbsp peppercorn (for my American friends and son-in-law, I omit the green and red chillies and use very little peppercorns)
1/2 cup cilantro,washed, finely chopped and dried on a paper towel.
Salt to taste.
2 eggs.

Wash and cook the channa dal with just enough water to cover it.
When done add the washed, drained meat, onion, ginger, garlic, red and green chillies and peppercorns to it and let it cook till meat is done and water has evaporated.
Cool. Blend in food processor till it is just a little coarse.
Add eggs and salt and mix in food processor.
Remove, put in bowl and place in refrigerator for at least half an hour.

For the beginner cook:

Additional ingredients: 1 onion, cooking spray.

Put oven on BROIL
Add 1 chopped onion and cilantro to the mix.
Mix well, shape into small oval patties. 1" wide and 2-3 "long.
Place on baking tray lined with foil.
Spray with cooking spray and broil till well browned.
Watch carefully...this takes 2-3 minutes only.
Turn and spray other side and brown it.

I use this method to control our fat intake. Formerly these were shallow fried in a skillet.
These are Shammi kebabs.
Serve hot with mint chutney.

For the intermediate/advanced cook, there are two ways of finishing this recipe:

Additional ingredients: Oil for frying, chicken tenders/boneless chicken and/or eggs.

Method One
1. Add cilantro and shape cooked, cooled mixture into balls/koftas.
2. Heat oil in a deep fryer till very hot but not smoking. Oil should only be one-third of the way up the side of the fryer.
3. Very carefully, put in five koftas.
4. Oil will start bubbling and huge bubbles will come to the careful oil does not boil over...if it comes too close to the top, switch off stove immediately.
5. Watch carefully till edges of each kofta start showing brown before turning over...if you touch them earlier koftas will disintegrate.
6. Remove in a minute or two. Koftas should be reddish brown.
Serve hot. Makes a great appetizer, main dish.

Method Two

Cook chicken tenders/boneless chicken with salt and chilli powder in a little water till done. Drain on paper towels. Cut into 1-2 inch pieces.
Hard boil eggs. Shell and cut in half lengthwise.
Add cilantro to meat mixture and cover chicken pieces completely with it.
Take a two inch ball of mixture, flatten it, place chicken or egg in center, cover completely, using more meat on top if necessary.
When well covered, press between your hands so meat is well compacted around filling.
Fry as above BEING very careful to only fry two egg halves at a time or four chicken filled koftas.
Enjoy hot as a main dish or as an out of this world appetizer with mint chutney.

In the olden days, entire drumsticks and thighs would be covered with this mixture and fried. Hurrah for boneless chicken.
Originally the meat mixture would be stuffed with a mixture of khoa mixed with raisins and nuts! We never did this.

When stuffed with egg, or chicken, these are called Nargisi koftas...the original recipe called for putting them in a gravy/sauce (given below), but we prefer them just fried. My mother would put half the plain fried koftas (no stuffing) in a gravy and serve half just fried.

WARNING: Don't stand close to frying pan/kadai as these have been known to burst a little in the oil if there is any water content in the filling.
Watch oil carefully...I cannot stress this often enough.
If first batch breaks up in oil, remove pieces, let oil cool, strain it and return it to frying pan. Add another beaten egg to mix and 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs.
I try not to do this as it works in a pinch but it changes the taste of the koftas.
Click on above pictures to see each stage of the process of these egg and chicken koftas...the ones where the egg is showing through is where it burst while frying!
I have the marks to prove it!!!

This is the MOST trying thing to deep fry till you get the hang of it and the MOST wonderful thing to eat. I didn't realize till reading a book of Hyderabadi cooking that very few people do deep fry it. (I guess that's because of the difficulty.)

Gravy for koftas.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 bay leaf
1" stick cinnamon
4 cloves.
1 onion,sliced
4 tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro.
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp garma masala powder.
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp white pepper powder
1 can(3 ozs)coconut milk.
1 Tbsp cashewnuts, ground to a paste in a little coconut milk.
Salt to taste.

Heat oil and butter.
Put in bay leaf, cinnamon stick and whole cloves (bud removed or it will burst in oil).
When bay leaf turns brown,add sliced onion. Fry brown.
Add all powders and fry for three minutes.
Add tomatoes and cilantro...fry till they get pulpy.
Add salt to taste.
Add 2 cups water and cook for five minutes.
Add cashewnut paste and coconut milk and simmer for 3 mins.
(Some folk use yogurt here instead).
Gravy is should be thick.
Add well drained koftas just before serving...if you let it sit too long koftas will become mushy.


Mona said...

Geeta, Your recipe for the Shami Kofta is very detailed. Thanks for the cleat description. I love these are they are a regular item in our meals.

meeso said...

This is a great recipe, and so detailed with different methods :)