Dhaga Kabab, thread wrapped Kebabs:
I guess there are as many kebab/kabab/kabob variations around the world as there are meat lovers. All the invaders from the Greeks to the Arabs left a deep mark on the food and culture of the Indian subcontinent. A rich variety of kebabs in the region is a legacy of these invasions. We not only adopted kebabs but made them our own by adding local herbs and spices as well as methods of cooking.
Dhaga Kabab is one such traditional speciality of Pakistani cuisine. Popular as streetfood, especially in Karachi, these kababs are juicy, spicy and one of a kind.
There is no binding agent used in Dhaga kababs – like eggs, chickpea or maize flour, nor is the minced meat pounded, as in some other kababs, for better grip on the skewers. Instead thread is wrapped around them to hold them better over the grill while cooking.
Mutton and beef are the preferred choice of meat for the authentic taste. If using red meat, do add at least 20 % fat to minced red meat for more flavourful and juicier kababs.
If you are not a fan of red meat, you can make them with chicken mince too, just make sure that chicken mince and grated onions don’t have any water in them at all. This rule applies for red meat mince too if you don’t want your kebabs falling on the grill mid process.
This is definitely something new to try for a special occasion to wow your meat loving guests.
1 kg minced meat (chicken, mutton, beef)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 inch piece cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Black salt or rock salt
2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
1 teaspoon mango powder
3 teaspoons salt or to taste
1 black cardamom
1 star anise
Seeds from 4-5 green cardamoms
3/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
3-4 green chilli peppers, chopped
4 tablespoons raw papaya/kiwi pulp
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
1 medium onion, grated
This Is What You Do:
Lightly toast the whole spices (cumin, coriander, mace, cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom seeds, star anise) on a skillet/Tawa for a few seconds.
Add them to a dry mill/grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Add minced meat to a big bowl. Also add the ground spices, red chilli powder, mango powder, black pepper, black salt, salt, ginger-garlic paste, papaya/kiwi, chopped green chilli peppers and fresh coriander to the meat mince.
Grated onion shall have lots f juice in it that can make the kebabs split and break. Squeeze all that juice out of the grated onions first, then add them to the minced meat mix.
Cover and refrigerate the minced meat to marinate for at least two hours or best overnight.
If you are planning to grill kebabs on outdoor open grill, you will need thick square metal skewers that hold the kebabs well. If you are making them in a pan on stove top, you can use wooden skewers as I did this time.
Wet your hands each time before making a kebab so that the mince doesn’t stick to your hand.
Divide the minced meat into equal sized balls, insert the skewer in the middle of a ball and keep pressing and gently lengthening the ball into a long cylinder shape. Wet your hands again to shape and smoothen the kebab.
Now wrap the thread all around the kebab, firmly enough to hold the kebab onto the skewer but not too tight to cut through the kebab. Cut off the thread at the edge.
Repeat with all minced meat mix.
To grill on outdoor grill, allow the coals to burn properly first. Light the coals and allow them to blaze freely until the flames die down and the ashen coals emanate an orange glow. This can take 30 minutes or longer.
Place the skewers on the grill, keep turning them and brushing the kebabs frequently with olive oil or ghee to keep them moist and juicy.
To cook in the pan, put the kebabs on skewers and wrap thread around them as before. Hear 2-3 tablespoons oil or ghee in a big frying pan or oil a skillet grill.
Place the skewers in the pan, as many as can fit easily at one time.
Cover for first 10 minutes for chicken, 20 minutes for mutton and beef and cook on medium low heat. Then remove cover and raise heat to medium high to colour and lightly char the kebabs on the outside.
Remove threads before serving.
Serve hot with naan, fresh salad and mint raita.
Makes 12-14 kebabs depending on size and thickness.