I had been itching to try out some party snacks for long now, other than my standard Chicken Wings and Roast Chicken - which have still not made it to this blog, I realise. Damn! Actually I make those chicken dishes so very often that I have ceased to think of the recipes as blog-worthy. But other than chicken starters, I usually end up serving chips and peanuts to vegetarians... or pakodas. So when I called my friend G's vegetarian parents over for lunch, I wanted to serve them something new and interesting.
Trawling through my favorite blogs, I came across this amazing recipe for Hyderabadi Vegetarian Shikampuri Kababs on Escapades. The moment I read that it is a vegetarian version that tastes as good as the meat ones, I was hooked!
And the kababs totally lived up to the hype :) It was a runaway success. My guests polished off every crumb and were amazed that vegetarian kababs could taste so good and have such a rich texture and flavour! In fact the pictures on this post are of the 2 solitary kababs that I did not serve as they were from the first trial batch. So this recipe is a keeper for sure.
VEGETARIAN SHIKAMPURI KABABS
Soya chunks/nuggets - 100gms/3 cups
Bengal gram / channa dal - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 2
Cinnamon - 2 sticks of 1 inch each
Cardamom - 2 pods
Cloves - 3
Black peppercorns - 5 to 6
Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 7 to 8 tbsp
Onion - 1 large
Salt - to taste
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Bread Crumbs - 1 cup
Besan (Chickpea flour) - 2 tbsp OR Egg (beaten) - 1
Coriander and Mint leaves
Wash and soak the soy chunks in 4-5 cups of hot water for 10 minutes till they turn soft and rehydrated. Squeeze the chunks dry, run them under cold water and rinse. Then squeeze out all the water again. Put the rehydrated nuggets, channa dal, green chillies, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves, pepper, turmeric and red chilli powder in a pressure cooker along with a cup of water and cook for 3-4 whistles till the dal is cooked.
While you wait for the pressure to be released, take 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan and fry 1 large finely sliced onion. Now add the soya and cooked dal mixture to the pan, sprinkle about 1 tsp of salt and cook till all the water evaporates and you are left with a fairly dry mixture.
Let it cool and then grind it in the mixer or wet grinder. Make sure you add very little water. The ensuing mixture should be of the regular chappati dough consistency and not any thinner .
Take this dough out in a large vessel and add the ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, bread crumbs and besan. (The original recipe called for a beaten egg, but since my guests were pure vegetarian I substituted it with some besan or Chickpea flour) Sprinkle mint and coriander leaves liberally and mix it well with your hands.
Now take a lemon sized portion of dough in your hands, roll it into a small ball between your palms and then flatten it into a tikki/patty shape. The mixture should make for about 30 medium-sized kababs.
Heat about 2-3 tbsp of oil in a non stick frying pan and when hot, place the kababs around it with at least an inch of space between each patty. Shallow fry for about 2-3 minutes and then flip them on to the other side. Once the kababs turn a lovely golden brown colour, remove with a slotted spoon and place on some tissue papers to absorb the excess oil.
The kababs tend to soak up a lot of oil, so you might need to add 2 tbsp of oil for every fresh batch of frying. Also, the mixture stays in the refrigerator for upto 3 days without getting spoilt. So you can store some for frying up later.
The way I like it:
Serve piping hot with some mint chutney or tomato sauce. Also tastes great with some hot and sweet chilli-garlic sauce, freshly sliced onions and tomatoes.