If you are looking for an Indian appetizer that is far from ordinary, then Reshmi kebabs are a great choice. Bright, juicy and just a little spicy, they are ideal as an entrée or as a main meal. Want to know how to make Reshmi kebabs? You are in the right place. Today I'm going to share my Indian Reshmi kebab secret recipe. Here's what's in them and how to make them!
What is Reshmi Kebab Made of?
Reshmi kebab (Or 'kabab' as it's sometimes called) is made from ground lamb. The lamb is combined with plenty of Asian spices that add both colour and flavour to the meat. The seasoned ground lamb is formed around skewers before roasting in a tandoor.
Ground lamb is simple, right, but you want to know about the spices?
Sure thing, I've got you.
Within Reshmi kebabs, you'll find the following herbs and spices: -
- Coriander – Coriander powder adds a slight 'citrus' note to the kebabs. This light brown powder is used pretty sparingly. It also creates a sort of 'curry' taste that runs through the meat.
- Tandoori masala – There's quite a lot of tandoori masala featured in this recipe. Tandoori masala does two things. First, it adds a mild spicy flavour and even a little heat. It also will give your kebabs a bright red hue, which is exactly how it looks in Indian restaurants.
- Garam masala – Garam masala is made from ground Indian spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, mace and star anise. It has a fairly strong curry taste, and you'll want to use this sparingly to avoid it steamrolling the rest of the ingredients.
- Chilli powder – Chilli (particularly Kashmiri chilli) adds further red colour to your kebabs. It also adds just a touch of warmth too (don't worry, Reshmi kebabs aren't ridiculously hot)
- Cumin – Cumin has a subtle smoky sweetness and features heavily in most Indian dishes. I prefer to use cumin powder, but you could also toast and crush whole jeera seeds for a stronger taste.
- Garlic and Ginger- Garlic and ginger paste form the backbone of Reshmi kebabs' flavour. Because we mix the paste into the meat at the start, as it cooks, it sort of bastes the kebabs from within!
- Methi – We add a small pinch of methi leaves to our Reshmi kebabs. Methi has a slightly sweet and smoky 'maple' taste. However, don't overdo it, as it can make things taste bitter.
- Paprika – Reshmi kebabs are supposed to be bright red. If the chilli and tandoori powder weren't enough, you'd find another red ingredient. Smoky and sweet paprika works really well with the ground lamb.
Some recipes use minced chicken. I don’t use it in this recipe for the following reasons: -
- Minced chicken is really hard to get a hold of. You can find minced lamb in most supermarkets
- Reshmi kebabs need to be cooked over high heat and really quickly to maintain their juiciness. I’m not a huge fan of cooking chicken quickly. I want to make sure it is well done, and cooked through. This means that chicken Reshmi kebabs have a much drier texture.
Do I Need to Marinade Reshmi Kebabs?
Unlike other meat kebabs, Reshmi doesn't need to be marinated. Because the dish is made using ground lamb, it is easy to get the tastes from the herbs and spices running through. So, this means there is no need to spend hours waiting for the flavour to soak in.
Just mix it and cook it. It really is that simple.
Is Kebab an Indian Food?
Kebabs and the many variations are not limited to India. Mankind has been skewering meat and grilling it over a flame for a very long time. However, when it comes to Reshmi kebabs, this is indeed an Indian dish that originates from the Moghul empire.
The word 'Reshmi' is a hindi word that roughly translates to mean ‘silky’. This is a nod to the texture and smoothness of the meat.
It’s also important to note…
That Reshmi kebabs are not the same as ‘shish’ kebabs. The term ‘shish’ actually stems from the Turkish word şiş, meaning ‘to skewer’. While Reshmi and shish kebabs are both served on a skewer, that’s where the similarity ends as they taste pretty different.
You can read more on the wonderful history of Moghul style kebabs here.
How to Make Reshmi Kebabs
Reshmi kebabs are about the easiest Indian dish you can make, and I will show you how to do it.
First, we start with a large bowl. This is where you are going to create your masala.
To the bowl, we throw in all of our herbs and spices, this includes: -
- Tandoori masala
- Garam masala
- Garlic and ginger
- Salt and pepper
Wait, no oil?
Nope, it isn’t necessary for this dish. Lamb is pretty high in fats, and once the meat begins to cook, this fat is released, which will saturate the dry spices.
Once the masala is mixed, we go in with our lamb mince.
You have two options here. You can mix it all together with a wooden spoon, but I find it is far quicker just to go straight in with your hands and give the entire mix a good knead and combine. You will probably want to wear gloves. Otherwise, your hands will be stained red by the spices within the dish.
Masala mixed? So, what’s next?
Now we are going to form the kebabs.
I tend to use large flat metal skewers…
Something like these skewers is ideal.
Why? Because they are a little wider and flatter, they stop the relatively soft Reshmi meat from falling off. Thin skewers are great for making kebabs out of chunks of meat…
But, Reshmi means ‘soft and silky’, remember? There is no worse feeling than lifting your kebab skewer up, only for your kebab meat to stay stuck to the grill.
To form the Reshmi kebab, I like to slightly wet my hands, then take a large handful of the meat and compress it into a tennis ball-sized lump. From there, I go straight through the middle with my skewer. Then, using my hand, slowly push and form the ball until it is a uniform sausage shape.
Some guys leave their Reshmi kebabs round. Others press them flat and ‘crimp’ them with a thumb and finger along their length to ensure they don’t come loose from the skewer.
Whatever works for you.
Once the Reshmi kebabs have been formed, it is time to cook them. There are a few ways you can do this, and I’ve detailed them all below: -
Cooking Reshmi Kebabs | Quick Reference at a Glance Guide
8 minutes per side
10 minutes per side
How to Cook Tandoori Reshmi Kebabs
Cooking Reshmi kebabs in a tandoor is the best way to get authentic results.
If you haven’t heard of a tandoor before, this is one of the world's oldest cooking methods. Essentially it is a clay, wood-fired oven. It roasts and smokes the meat simultaneously and imparts a really delicious flavour.
To cook Reshmi kebabs in a tandoor oven is easy. You just pop them in, leave the lid on and around 5 to 10 minutes later, they are done. The fat from the lamb will drip onto the hot walls of the tandoor, giving your meat a real ‘smoky barbecue’ taste.
If you haven’t got a tandoor, don’t worry. Here’s my ultimate guide on making a tandoor oven for home.
Cooking Reshmi Kebabs on the Barbecue
Alright, let’s be honest.
Most people aren’t going to go out and build their own tandoor oven. A barbecue is an ideal way to get all of the flavours of authentic Indian Reshmi kebabs without all of the faff of building an oven.
Barbecuing Reshmi couldn’t be easier. Get the barbecue really hot. Then, once the grill bars are positively smoking, place your kebabs on the grate. Turn the heat down to medium and then close the lid.
The Reshmi kebabs will need around 5 minutes on each side. The nice thing about using metal skewers is that they are conductive, so the heat from the grill will penetrate to the centre of your meat, too, cooking it from within!
I normally aim for a little charring on the outside. Use a cheap meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked. You are looking for an internal temperature of around 71°C
Grilling Reshmi Kebabs
Raining outside? Or you don’t have a barbecue?
Don’t worry. You can still make Reshmi kebabs at home. The grill (or ‘broiler’ if you are from the USA) still gives a nice result.
As with barbecuing, simply grill your Reshmi kebabs on each side, under high heat, for around 5 minutes per side.
Oven-Baked Reshmi Kebabs
I love cooking Reshmi kebabs in the oven. It couldn’t be simpler.
Because the kebabs sit in their own fat, they stay nice and juicy (if not quite as healthy).
Simply line an oven tray with foil or baking paper and bake your kebabs for around 20 minutes at 190°C, turning halfway.
Hints and Tips
Even if you aren’t making it for four people, I’d still suggest following the above recipe to the letter.
Because the two kebabs you don’t eat can be cut up into chunks and served as a meaty curry filling. Adding different meats to curry is really easy if you use the BIR cooking method. Why not head over and check out some of my curry guides and see if you can find a sauce that you like the look of.
Simulate the Smoky Taste
If you haven’t got a barbecue, you might feel that you are missing out on that smoky taste.
Well, my friends, get this…
You can make Reshmi kebabs (or any meat for that matter) taste smoky even without a barbecue or tandoor.
There are a few ways to do it, but this is the method I find works best.
Line a large dutch oven with foil and add two tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of tea leaves and two tablespoons of dry rice. Put a grate over the top and place your Reshmi kebabs on the grate before adding the lid. Roast this dish on high for around 25 minutes.
As the rice heats and the sugar melts, it will smoke, flavouring your meat!
Don’t Overwork Your Lamb
This is a big one.
You might read the odd recipe telling you to work and knead the ground lamb until it is smooth and silky.
Don’t do this.
By overworking lamb, you will make the texture of your kebabs too fine and paste-like. This actually encourages the kebabs to become dry and really unappetizing. Just mix and knead the lamb until the ingredients are fully incorporated. There is no need to make it super smooth.
Feel Free to Skip the Chilli
Not everyone is a spice lover. The chilli included in the Reshmi kebab recipe is entirely optional. You can leave it out, and it won’t make a massive difference to the taste. It just won't be quite as hot.
Skewers are not Mandatory!
If you haven’t got skewers, it isn’t a deal-breaker.
Follow the instructions above and roll your ground Reshmi lamb into thick sausages. You’ll probably want to grill or bake them, but they can also be fried too!
What to Serve with Reshmi Kebabs?
So, you’ve gone and created a delicious pile of tasty red kebabs but don’t know what to serve with them?
Don’t worry. Here’s a great list of things that go really well with Reshmi kebabs: -
- Plain white rice
- Pilau rice with peas
- Naan bread and roti
- Yoghurt and mint sauce
- Leafy side salad and lemon wedges
- Chips or potato wedges
- Yoghurt and honey
- Curry sauce
- Pitta bread
Reshmi Kebabs | Final Thoughts
Reshmi kebabs might just be my favourite Indian starter. They are bright red, juicy and delicious. This Reshmi kebab recipe is ideal for a quick mid-week dinner, and you can even make a couple of extra to pop into a lunch box for the next day. Like this recipe? Leave a comment below, or check out some of my other guides to Indian food.