A beef kebabs recipe to make soft as velvet kebabs that will melt in your mouth. With just a few choice spices, yoghurt, fried onions and raw papaya, get set to make some foodie magic!
I have made and eaten all kinds of kebabs, but my favourite by far are these beauties. I picked up this beef kebabs recipe from my Dad's sister, Rehana, and I'm eternally grateful to her for sharing it.
Why, you may ask, do I favour this one over others?
It's very simple. I always find myself gravitating towards dishes that are easily made and full of flavour (as you might have discovered by now if you've been elsewhere on this site).
This recipe has fairly straightforward steps that even a novice cook can follow. It requires a little advance prep, but once you're through that, the kebabs literally just cook themselves.
They're big on taste though. Close your eyes and imagine popping a kebab or two in your mouth. You'll immediately experience an explosion of rich flavours and the kebabs will melt in your mouth before you know it. You don't have to chew and chew until your jaw muscles start to ache. I don't know about you but I positively hate chewy kebabs. If kebabs are not soft, they're not worth eating!
The key to this magic?
There are several, in fact.
One, a long marination time. The meat is marinated overnight to allow the spices to seep into it.
Two, the unique combination of ingredients. Ingredients like fried onions, yoghurt, spices, ginger and garlic are always a winning combo for kebabs.
Three, the use of raw papaya, a natural tenderizer. It is chockful of a poweful enzyme called papain which can break down even tough meats like beef in a jiffy. The result? Soft as velvet kebabs, duh!
Four, slow cooking on a low, even heat. The marinated beef is cooked on a slow fire until all the liquid evaporates and the kebabs have absorbed the rich masala fully.
Fifth, smoking the cooked kebabs. The kebabs taste great even without this step, but if you like a smoky flavour to your meats, this is an optional thing you can do. And it takes mere moments.
So, there you have it. I have given you, not one but five keys to a million-dollar beef kebabs recipe. Get ready to make the softest, bestest kebabs on the planet! (Okay, perhaps that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea:)
1. Dry roast coriander, cumin and dry red chilli in a small fry pan until fragrant. Once cool, grind in a spice or coffee grinder to a powder. Keep aside.
2. Fry the sliced onions in oil until reddish-brown. Keep aside. (Don't remove them from the oil).
3. Grind the raw papaya with a little water to make a smooth puree. Keep aside.
4. Take the beef pieces in a large glass bowl and mix in the ground spices of step 1, the fried onions (along with the oil in which they were fried) of step 2, the papaya puree of step 3, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, yoghurt, white vinegar and salt. Mix very well, cover with cling foil and keep in fridge for 8-10 hours or overnight.
5. Transfer the marinated beef to a dutch oven and turn on the heat to high. When the contents inside start bubbling (the yoghurt will release some water), lower the heat and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Cook for one or one and a half hours on low heat until the kebabs are done. Check once or twice to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Smoke and garnish:
6. Heat a piece of charcoal till it is red-hot and place it in a circular piece of onion. Keep this piece of onion on top of the cooked kebabs and drizzle a little oil or ghee, (if you happen to have ghee at hand) on the hot charcoal piece. I prefer ghee though vegetable oil is just fine too. Cover with a lid and wait for five minutes.
7. Transfer the smoked kebabs to a shallow serving dish and garnish with onion rings and chopped cilantro.
1. There is a fair bit of roasting and frying involved, so make sure to air the kitchen space once it's done. Just crack open a few windows to let the smell of spices out. And don't forget to switch on the exhaust fan!
2. Smoking and garnishing the kebabs are optional steps, so do away with them if you are too impatient or hungry. The kebabs taste just great even without the extra fussing about.
3. Raw papaya is usually available in the produce section of Indian grocery stores.