This is a new series in which I feature my version of fast food – recipes that are quick, simple and delicious. Most are adaptable, some mere suggestions – but when you need good food in a hurry, everything helps, right?
If I could use one word to describe today, it would be ‘gray’. It rained all day, street lamps and car headlights were on at 4 pm and the biting wind made me wish I had worn a heavier jacket. It was the kind of day you should spend snuggled up under the covers with a good book. If I was back in Bombay, my mom would be making chai (tea) and pakoras (vegetable fritters), the quintessential rainy day snack in India. But here I was, walking huddled under my umbrella after a long day, cold and miserable. I reached home, shook off my wet things and put on a kettle for tea. But I wanted something more substantial than fritters (a noble intention considering I had two slices of this for dinner a couple of days ago).
I rummaged in the pantry and came up with the ingredients for these lamb kebabs, a recipe I had submitted a while ago to a Food52 meatball contest. (It was an Editors’ Pick!) I’ve added it to my 1-2-3 series because once you get the ingredients , this recipe comes together in 3 simple steps. All the prep is done in a food processor for zero fuss or mess. Minced lamb is mixed with fragrant Indian spices and cashewnuts and then baked till cooked but still moist. This is traditionally done on skewers in a tandoor, but in the absence of both I make it in the form of meatballs in the oven. The accompanying mint chutney provides a refreshing contrast and also comes together quickly in the processor.
Don’t be intimidated by the (admittedly) long list of spices; I assure you the actual process is simple and yields delicious results. Rainy day or not, you won’t regret it.
Best served hot as an appetizer with a mint and yogurt chutney, thinly sliced onions and lemon wedges, but I also love the leftovers for lunch in a wrap with some lettuce, cucumbers, green peppers, onions and tzatziki.
(If you don’t like lamb, you can also try this with ground beef)
1 pound ground lamb
2 ounces cashewnuts
1/2 tablespoon crushed garlic
1/2 tablespoon crushed ginger
4-5 mint leaves
4-5 sprigs fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt, to taste
1. Place all the ingredients in the order given in a food processor and process until well mixed. (The cashewnuts will still be in pieces – I happen to like this. If you want it mixed completely, process it to a paste first before adding the other ingredients.)
2. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and mix gently with your hands. Form into 20 medium sized balls and place on a baking sheet. (Alternatively apply the mixture to skewers with moist hands.)
3. Bake in a 400⁰F (200⁰C) preheated oven until cooked but still moist, about 25-35 mins, turning over the kebabs once or twice with a fork or tongs.
2/3 cups packed fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala or black salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup yogurt, whisked
Salt, to taste
1. Place all the ingredients except the yogurt and salt in a processor and grind to a fine paste.
2. Whisk the yogurt.
3. Add the paste to the whisked yogurt and mix well. Season with salt.