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Saturday, 8 June 2013

chapli kebabs

Filed under: cookbooks, etc.,food & drink,spicy — ejm @ 13:12 EDT

summary: anardana is great in kebabs; mint is equally wonderful; our mint is alive and our chives are flowering! I love a good coffee table book that includes terrific text and recipes; brief review of “Green Mangoes and Curry Leaves” by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid (click on images for larger views and more photos)

anardana Last month, when I was raving about anardana, I mentioned the lovely looking slipper kebab recipe on p. 257 in “Mangoes and Curry Leaves” by Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford.

Here is our take on the slipper kebabs, made with ground pork instead of lamb (because I am a freak and don’t care for lamb). We garnished them with coriander leaf and served them with bread, yellow dahl, stir-fried cabbage and hot hot hot red chillies.


Dinner, once again, was fabulous.

So fabulous that T decided he neeeeeeeed flat skewers to make shami kebabs. And so we jumped on our bikes and headed first to the hardware store (nope), then to Honest Ed’s (nope) and then to a great restaurant supply store on Queen Street. There we found EXACTLY the right skewers.

Well, maybe not exactly. The price was exorbitant at $8 a skewer. We decided to wait and see what they had in India Town.

A few days later, in India Town, we found zillions of almost the right skewers. They were exactly the right width and cost $3 each. But they were as long as swords. If we had a tandoor, we’d have got them. But we decided against them, knowing they would neither fit on our bikes to get them home, nor in any of the kitchen drawers.

We realized that chapli kebabs are just fine.

So fine, that the other night, we decided to have them again. But this time with mint instead of anardana. Why mint? I’m thrilled to report that our mint is absolutely thriving right now (I’ve got my fingers crossed that I won’t be the only person in the world to be able to stop mint from growing in our garden again). But just in case it dies, it would be a shame not to eat some of it now.

Duguid and Alford include a fabulous mint kebab recipe that they call ‘cumin-coriander beef patties’ on p 268. I can’t believe that they don’t even mention the mint (aside from listing it in the ingredients). It’s such a wonderful and surprising addition.

We served them with bread, grilled eggplant, Romaine and cabbage salad garnished with chive flowers and mint leaves and brown dahl, my favourite. Yellow dahl is good, but there is something so much more wonderful about brown dahl.

chapli kebab

Mangoes and Curry Leaves

anardana Filled with beautiful descriptions of towns visited (the sounds and smells and dust and light are palpable in the descriptions) along with excellent recipes that have suggestions for substitutions for difficult-to-find ingredients, it’s worth having such a large and heavy book. And we’re absolutely thrilled that we have an autographed copy.

Each section opens with a large stunningly beautiful sepia-toned photograph. There are smaller colour photographs throughout but mostly, the pages contain vivid descriptions and recipes that are clearly laid out. The reference section at the back is invaluable.

Out of the several bookmarked recipes, our favourite thing to make is the most fantastic ‘hot chili oil paste’ to go with hard boiled eggs. It is now one of the standard condiments in our house.

I first tasted this condiment at the Saturday market in Kalimpong, a town near the Bhutan-Sikkim border, as a red chile paste coating hard-cooked eggs. Each egg was wrapped in a green leaf, a beautiful presentation. The combination of egg and sauce was delicious, for the sauce had a surprising depth of flavor. I had expected just chile heat, but found out when I tasted the egg I’d bought that the chile oil paste was flavored with ginger, scallion, and garlic.

-Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, Mangoes and Curry Leaves, p. 48

We also love the potato curry. And the cumin-coriander beef patties (we think they should be called mint kebabs – the mint is a fabulous addition). And the slipper kebabs. And the dahl. And the aloo paratha. And the dosa. And even though we didn’t adore them, it was fun to try dhokla.

Though grilled and roasted meat is widely associated with the culinary traditions brought by the Moghul conquerers, in fact, in the Subcontinent dishes of minced meat and roasts grilled over a fire apparently date much further back. The word kebab came with the conquerers. […]

Called chapli kebab, meaning “slipper kebab”, they’re made of ground lamb and spices and shaped in an oblong rather like the outline of the sole of a slipper or sandal (chapple). […]

This is the best and easiest way to eat ground [meat] – succulent, delicately scented with cumin and coriander, and pretty with fresh coriander leaves [and mint] blended into the meat. […]

Anardana: Dried sour pomegranate seeds, used in Pakistan and parts of northern India to give a tart flavoring. Anardana are sold in most south Asian grocery stores, usually in small plastic bags. Dark red to black, they must be ground to a powder or simmered in hot liquid to release their flavor.

-Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, Mangoes and Curry Leaves, p. 255, 257, 268, 349


Isn’t spring wonderful? Not only the thyme, sage and tarragon survive the rather severe winter but summer savory (aka “Italian oregano” – yes, really, this is what it’s labelled as at one of the garden centers!) is sprouting and the chives are flowering! Whoohoo!!


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  • barbara

    Were you looking for bamboo skewers or metal? It looks like you can get flat bamboo skewers in packages of 50 or 100 for pretty cheap (like $4.25 for 50) through Amazon. Even the flat metal ones aren’t $8 each, although the inch-wide ones probably would be close to that with shipping and handling. flat skewers

    Thank you for the search, Barbara! We were looking for metal ones. I don’t think that anyone makes bamboo in the width that T wants. But I’m happy to report that this weekend, we found almost exactly what we were looking for at St. Lawrence Market. They are not flat and wide but T is thrilled. They were around $3 each – stainless steel with bamboo handles (photos of the skewers are still in the camera). We tried them out with shami kebabs the other night. T is out of his mind with joy. -Elizabeth


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