Punjabi Lamb Kebabs

This is a basic Indian kebab recipe that has probably not changed much since the sixteenth century except for the addition of chilies and what is now the ubiquitous chaat masala, a mixture of hot and sour spices that most Indians just buy in the market.

The use of mustard oil is interesting—I have seen it used for kebabs in both India and Pakistan. Both countries have a Punjab, as that state, today on India’s western border and Pakistan’s eastern border, was split into two when the British partitioned India.

Chaat masala can be bought at any Indian grocery. It is a spice mixture containing sour mango powder, roasted cumin, cayenne, and other seasonings. It adds a spicy sourness but is not essential. Just sprinkle a dash of cayenne, and some roasted ground cumin seeds, if available, over the top and add some squirts of lime juice.

I like to have these with Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Raisins and Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant.

  • .75  cup whole-milk yogurt (preferably Greek)
  • 6 tablespoons mustard oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.25 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed to a pulp
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (store-bought is fine)
  • 2.5 pounds boneless lamb from the leg, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon store-bought chaat masala, or see suggestion above

Put the yogurt in a cloth-lined colander set in the sink. Leave 10–15 minutes.

Put the drained yogurt in a bowl. Add the oil, salt, cayenne, garlic, ginger, and garam masala and beat well with a whisk to mix. Add the meat and mix again. Cover and refrigerate overnight or as long as 24 hours.

Preheat broiler.

Push 4 skewers through the centers of the lamb cubes, dividing them equally. Leave the marinade behind. Brush generously with the melted butter.

Rest the two ends of each skewer on the rim of a broiling tray (the tray catches the drips and the kebabs stay in suspension) and place the tray about 5 inches from the source of heat. Broil 5–7 minutes on the first side and another 5–7 minutes on the opposite or until the kebabs are done to your taste. Sprinkle the chaat masala over the top.

Serves 4-6

This recipe was excerpted from the lovely cookbook, “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey,” which features delish dishes, simple enough for every day. Also, check out our interview with Jaffrey from her recent visit to Chicago.