Friday, May 18, 2018

Vegetable Shikampuri Kebabs

Few days ago, Aparna had shared in her Instagram feed a picture of few of her cookbooks. She had mentioned that Sheetal bhatt at Route to roots blog had initiated the idea of a virtual food enthusiasts group to cook dishes from our respective collection of cookbooks and share the pictures/ recipes where desired. 
Most of us like to buy cookbooks, but hardly use them regularly. We might cook a few recipes every once in a while and then slowly put the book away and let it gather dust. 
This virtual group will now bring those out and cook dishes twice a month, based on given themes. we would share the picture of the dish in our Instagram feeds with a hash tag 'thecookbookcollective'. We may share them across other social network media also. We might share some of those recipes in our blog also.
The theme for the first dish was 'Regional'. I chose to make Shikampuri Kebabs that are famous in Hyderabad Mughal cuisine. These are rich and delicious with a filling of tender meat or equivalent vegetarian mix. The name literally means 'filled in the middle' as in 'tummy full'.
During one of my stay at The Gateway Hotel, Bengaluru, I found the book titled 'Vegetarian Fare at the Taj' that has so many vegetarian dishes that are cooked in the kitchens of the Taj group hotels across India. The management were generous to let me have that book. 
I had this recipe from that book; this was shared by the executive chef of Taj Krishna, Hyderabad.
The same book has another recipe from the Taj  Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad that replaces potatoes with Elephant Yam and lentils.
I gave this recipe to my daughter as she had mostly all the ingredients with her. She decided to add lot of young beetroots and made a very pleasantly pink kebabs. 
I am giving approximate measures for the outer cover vegetables. I used potatoes, beans and carrots. Because ultimately all vegetables are going to get mashed, you can add any more different vegetables that will not taste off.
I used two large potatoes, boiled until soft and grated. The yield of potatoes was 2 loosely packed cups.
Vegetable Shikampuri Kebabs 

Makes 8 kebabs
For the outer cover:
2 cups boiled and grated potatoes
1 cup boiled carrots (cut in very tiny bits and heaped cupful of raw carrots)
1 cup boiled beans (same as carrots)
Just about enough bread crumbs to bind the vegetables in a dough like texture.
1&1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 blade of mace
3 green cardamoms
2 teaspoons caraway seeds/ ajwain
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying/ deep frying. (The book has a deep fried version, I used the airfryer by basting a little ghee all around each kebab before placing in the fryer.) (My daughter shallow fried the kebabs and said they tasted good)
For the filling
1/3 cup khoya (I boiled 500 millilitres of milk down to get this quantity)
1/2 cup crumbled paneer
1 &1/2 teaspoon oil
1 medium red onion sliced very finely
1 green chilli finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder
1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves
A pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Prepare the filling:
Heat oil in a pan.
Add the onions and green chillis. Saute until the onions are transparent.
Add the paneer and khoys and cook until they are soft and pink.
Add salt, sugar and white pepper powder. Toss to mix and turn the heat off.
Drop the chopped fresh leaves and mix.
Allow to cool and divide in 8 small portions rolled in balls.
If the quantity of the filling might feel more for 8 kebabs. You may store them and use in other dishes.

Prepare the vegetable kebabs:
Crush the mace, cardamom and caraway seeds to a fine powder. This is a very aromatic spice powder mix
Mash the carrots and beans ( other boiled vegetables if you are using ) to a pulp with only few bits left to show.
Add the grated potatoes, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and prepared spice powder of cardamom, mace and caraway seeds.
Knead them together to a dough like mass. Add the bread crumbs and knead to a smooth dough. 
Take a small portion and roll and pat to a disc to test if the dough is not cracking. Add little more bread crumbs if needed.
Divide into 8 portions, roll them in smooth balls.
Use little oil or ghee to grease your palms and pat one dough ball in a discs, place one portion of filling, gather the ends and cover the filling with the vegetable dough.
Flatten it slightly to a round disc, like kebabs of uniform thickness of about 1 cm.
Repeat with the rest of vegetable dough and filling.
Heat oil in a pan and when hot place the kebabs as many will hold in the pan, not too close to each other.
Cook the kebabs well until crisp and golden all over. Remove from the pan. Transfer to a serving dish.
Repeat with all the kebabs.
While the book has a directions to deep fry the kebabs, I chose to do them in my airfryer and my daughter opted to shallow fry in a pan. Both turned out excellent. So how you want to have them cooked has these options.

For my airfryer version, I used a few drops of ghee over each kebab brushing it all over. I cooked them for 10 minutes at 180 degrees C and for a further 2 minutes after flipping them over.
Serve them hot with salad and green chutney or tomato sauce.
If you are planning to do them in more numbers, you may make ahead the kebabs, refrigerate them and fry them at your convenience. My daughter had made the quantity for 8 kebabs, but used only four on the first try. She refrigerated the uncooked kebabs and used them the next day.

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