“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child
This recipe is dedicated to our friend S, whose love for chicken is contagious. Kid you not, she is the queen of chicken. Breakfast, lunch and dinner her meal isn’t complete without her favorite protein. A few weeks ago after our girls had gotten out of swim class we were talking about our lunch plans, weekend plans. My husband mentioned he wanted me to make him his Mom’s Upma (a spicy semolina porridge). S’s husband mentioned how they had a ritual of going to this local Turkish place after class because it was quick, fresh and easy. And that’s when it happened. S started gushing about the tender kebabs, how juicy and flavorful they were and how they just melted in your mouth. This was not the first time she was putting water in our mouths. S’s love of chicken is so deep that she will describe it in such a way that it will leave you craving it. In fact, my first choice is generally a vegetarian dish but when I’m around S, I suddenly find myself wanting chicken… crazy, I know!
A few days later I found myself craving kebabs so I made these Chapli Kebabs. Chapli Kebabs are made with ground meat and fresh herbs and spices. They are prepared flat and round and generally served with naan. The word Chapli comes from the Pashto word Chaprikh, which means “flat”. These kebabs are great to make ahead of time and freeze wonderfully. And don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off, the more herbs and spices you add the more flavorful they will be! The recipe is pretty forgiving as well, for example, I only had two small green chilies as opposed to the 3 the recipe calls for, so I threw in a red Thai chili I had. I used chicken as the base but you could make these with any lean ground meat.
Oh and you can bet that we took a detour that day going home and got kebabs after swim class!
3 lbs of ground chicken
1 medium red onion
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 teaspoon coriander powder
2 teaspoon crushed fresh garlic
2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
2 teaspoons shahi jeera (black cumin)
1 teaspoon white poppy seeds
1 tablespoon dried mint
3 medium sized green chilies
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
2 limes (juice of one lime for mixture/one for garnishing)
3 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1/3 cup cooking oil
In a food processed chop all herbs and spices together. It’s important to taste for salt during this step. Once the mixture is finely chopped add to large bowl and mix in ground meat. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30-45 minutes. This will prevent the meat from sticking to your fingers while making the kebabs.
Once chilled, take heaping tablespoon of meat mixture in your hand. Place it in center of palm. Roll it to form a smooth ball (around the size of a gold ball) and then flatten the ball by pressing firmly between your palms. Place on parchment paper and continue until all kebabs have been formed.
In a heavy bottom pan heat oil on medium high heat. Once oil gets hot lower heat to medium low and fry kababs for 4-5 minutes or until well done on each side.
Squeeze fresh lime juice on hot kebabs and garnish with fresh cilantro and onions.