My dad used to call shami kebabs 'vegetarian burgers' for reasons I will never fathom. I like to think it was a failing in his English language skills rather than a malicious attempt to feed vegetarians lamb.
In their full glory shamis are a combination of very finely minced cooked lamb or mutton, combined with ground and soaked lentils, often chana dal. The mixture is kneaded with spices and then covered in egg and fried to make kebabs with a crisp exterior and soft inside.
Something odd happens to lentil when you cool and then re-heat them after they've been fried, so these are only really good if someone just made them fresh. Frozen and pre-made ones are like rubbery discs of sadness.
I haven't eaten these for ages so I made some, replacing the mince with potato. They still had that crisp, fried lentil flavour that totally reminded me of the originals. They're also vaguely reminiscent of falafels and aloo tikkis but much less robust than either. Warning: they are not a handheld food.
Ingredients - makes 30 little ones
1 cup split bengal gram, soaked overnight then boiled until cooked and drained
4 potatoes boiled, peeled and mashed
1 tsp black cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 bunch fresh coriander
3 green chillis
1 tsp garam masala
thumb size piece of ginger, grated
1 tsp ground ginger
1.5 tsp salt
1. Add the bengal gram to a food processer and blend to a smooth consistency with the coriander, ginger, chillis, salt and spices.
2. Pour the mixture into a large bowl with the mashed potatoes and need together until blended well.
3. Form into palm sized patties and shallow fry in plenty of oil. Cook until dark brown on both sides then leave to dry on kitchen towel until slightly cooled (or they will be very soft and collapsable).
This chutney was a happy partner. Just blend together the following until smooth:
half a bunch of coriander
a thumb sized piece of ginger
1 tbsp oil
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (or tamarind paste)
1 large red chilli