Description: Food Network Kitchen's Seekh Kebabs.
Recipe courtesy of Nidhi Jalan for Food Network Kitchen

Seekh Kebabs

Getting reviews...
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr (includes marinating time)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 4 servings
Seekh kebab (or shish kebab) is a melt-in-your-mouth preparation said to have been brought to the Indian subcontinent by the Turks long before the Mughals popularized the concept. It traditionally consists of minced mutton threaded onto a skewer (or seekh) and cooked in a tandoor, but it’s equally delicious with minced lamb or beef. It’s also just as good cooked on a grill if you follow these guidelines: the meat should not be too lean; squeeze every bit of liquid from the onion mixture; and let the kebab mixture “marinate” for at least a couple hours. I love to drizzle the finished kebabs with a tart cilantro-yogurt chutney and offer pickled red pearl onions on the side, as they do in Mughlai restaurants. Seekh kebabs can be an appetizer or a main course when served with naan and dal makhani.


Cilantro-Yogurt Chutney:

Pickled Red Pearl Onions (Sirke Wale Pyaz):


Special equipment:
a grill, 4 to 6 metal skewers (preferably the flat variety which are easier to flip because the kebab ingredients don’t twist), cheesecloth
  1. Add the onions, chiles, and cilantro to a food processor and pulse until evenly and finely chopped, scrapping down the sides of the processor with a rubber spatula as needed. Transfer the mixture to a piece of folded over cheesecloth and add the garlic and ginger. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze every bit of liquid from the mixture. (A lot should come out.) This step is imperative to making a good kebab and makes it easier to skewer the meat mixture.
  2. Combine the meat, garam masala, chili powder, kabab chini (if using), cashew butter (if using) and squeezed onion mixture in a large bowl. Knead until thoroughly combined, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium-high.
  4. Meanwhile, add 2 teaspoons salt to the meat mixture and knead to incorporate. (Do this just before you are ready to make the skewers.)
  5. Skewering is the only slightly tricky part of this recipe. With moist hands, form the meat into about sixteen 2-inch-wide balls. If the mixture is too moist to hold together, knead in some breadcrumbs. On a large work surface, roll each ball into a cylinder about 1-inch thick and 3 to 4 inches long. Thread the cylinders onto metal skewers. Depending on the size of your skewers, you can thread 3 to 4 cylinders on a single skewer. Don’t worry too much about keeping a perfect cylindrical shape.
  6. When the grill is hot, lightly oil the grates. Lay the skewers on the grates, close the lid and cook until grill marks form on the bottom of the kebabs, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the kebabs, close the lid and cook until the meat is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more. The whole process should take no more than 6 to 8 minutes. If there are significant flare ups, move the kebabs to another part of the grill and continue cooking.
  7. Slide the kebabs off the skewers onto a platter. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lightly drizzle with Cilantro-Yogurt Chutney. Serve with lime wedges, the remaining chutney for dipping and Pickled Red Pearl Onions (if using).

Cilantro-Yogurt Chutney:

Yield: 1 cup
  1. Combine the cilantro, yogurt, chiles, garlic, lime zest, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender and process until smooth. It should have the consistency of a creamy salad dressing. If it’s too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water. Taste and adjust the salt and/or lime, if needed.

Pickled Red Pearl Onions (Sirke Wale Pyaz):

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
  1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer until the sugar and salt are dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the onions and let come to room temperature. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate, covered, for 4 days. The pickles will keep in the refrierator for up to 1 month.

Cook’s Note

Kashmiri chili powder has a lovely flavor with a little bite and a bright-red color. If you don’t have any, you can use a combination of cayenne pepper and paprika in equal proportions. Kabab chini looks like allspice and tastes like a mixture of allspice and pepper; it helps take these kebabs to the next level, so is worth sourcing. Cashew butter helps prevent the kebabs from drying out on the grill, but it isn’t necessary.