Get out the food processor or your favorite quick-chop implement: These kebabs are hand-shaped mixtures of minced chicken, onion, green chili pepper and cilantro bound with a bit of bread crumbs and egg. Either red or sweet onion may be used; the red will lend more of a sharp bite. The kebabs taste great hot or cold; leftovers make great sandwiches or frittata fixings.
The original recipe calls for grinding the spices, but we found that toasting already-ground spices works fine here, and it saves a bit of time.
Serve on bamboo skewers, with quick-cooking farro and a mint or tamarind chutney mixed into plain yogurt.
Shami (Spicy Chicken) Kebabs
1 black cardamom pod (may substitute green cardamom pod)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 small red or yellow onion (2 or 3 ounces)
Leaves from 6 to 8 stems cilantro
1-inch piece fresh ginger root
1 medium clove garlic
1 small green chili pepper
1 3/4 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (preferably a mixture of light and dark meat)
Generous pinch kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs (may substitute 1/3 cup packed fresh bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use non-stick olive oil cooking spray to grease a rimmed baking sheet.
Crush the cardamom pod to release its seeds; transfer them to the baking sheet, along with the cinnamon, cloves and cumin seed. Toast in the oven for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
As you prep the following ingredients, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor: Coarsely chop the onion (to yield 3/4 cup), the cilantro leaves and some tender stems (to yield 1/4 cup). Peel the ginger, then coarsely chop it along with the garlic. Stem and seed the green chili pepper, then cut it into small chunks. Pulse until evenly chopped, stopping short of a paste consistency. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Remove and discard all visible fat from the chicken. Cut the meat into small, equal-size chunks, then transfer to the food processor. Pulse until evenly chopped, stopping short of a mushy consistency. Transfer to the mixing bowl, along with the salt, black pepper, egg, bread crumbs and toasted spices. Use your clean hands to combine and incorporate the ingredients.
Scoop a small handful into your palm, shaping the mixture to a log that’s 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat to form 11 more logs, using all of the mixture and spacing the logs at least 1 inch apart. Roll and spray them lightly with the nonstick olive oil cooking spray. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until evenly browned.
Divide among individual plates, skewering them if desired for easy handling. Makes 12 (3-inch) kebabs (4 to 6 servings).
Nutrition per kebab: 90 calories, 16 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 85 milligrams sodium, 0 grams dietary fiber, 0 grams sugar
– Adapted from East Meets West, by Stephanie Yuen (Douglas & McIntyre, June 2012)