'Why should the omnivores have all the fun?' I thought as I tested the latest recipe for my upcoming third book. I was recreating my aunt's famous lamb kabobs - which are quite a sensation in her London suburb. There is just something oddly satisfying about them from the way the onions melt with the fenugreek leaves, ginger, and spices against the lamb backdrop. At least that's what my meat-eating husband tells me. I have a tough time when he has a craving for lamb kabobs - because I just can't get my vegetarian self to eat them. And that's when an idea was born to recreate the texture and almost taste of lamb kabobs...but with black chickpeas. Here's the recipe - tell me what you think!
Makes 20 – 25, 2-inch long kabobs
Tools: You’ll need a griddle, frying pan, or grill (depending on how you are cooking), large lid, kabob sticks, tongs, food processor, and medium mixing bowl.
2 cups black chickpeas, (kala chana), soaked overnight but uncooked
½ 16 oz. package firm or extra firm tofu, crumbled
2/3 cup finely minced yellow or red onion
¼ cup grated ginger
1 – 2 Thai, Serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, (kasoori methi), crushed gently in one hand to release flavor
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
½ - 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
Small bowl of water for dipping hands
1. Add chickpeas and tofu to food processor and grind together until the two come together almost like a ball of dough. Be patient, this may take some time because of the ‘meaty’ texture of the chickpeas, which are soaked but uncooked. Stop the machine if you have to, push the ingredients down from the sides, and process again. You may have a small processor and if so, divide your ingredients and blend in small batches. Remove to a deep mixing bowl.
2. Add remaining ingredients (except the water) and mix well with one hand – the best way to really ensure all the ingredients blend well.
3. With your bowl of water nearby, dip one hand in the water and mold about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time into a 2-inch long log until you are finished with the mixture, placing them on a tray until you’re ready to cook them. If grilling, mold the kabobs around sticks.
4. If cooking on a stovetop, heat up a well-oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Cook your kabobs about eight at a time for a total of 9 minutes until they are brown all around. Carefully turn them with tongs so all sides brown evenly and cover the kabobs with a lid when not turning. Because the black chickpeas were soaked and not cooked through, it helps to cover your kabobs as they cook so that your ingredients cook through the middle with the steam. I also keep an oil spray can handy to add a little oil if needed.
Alternatively, you can grill your kabobs for 10 – 15 minutes. Cover them as well when they are on the grill for best results. Serve with tamarind and mint chutneys and ketchup. These kabobs are especially perfect stuffed inside a hot-dog bun for the kids and work well as patties, too. I love molding small patties to make sliders for the kids and/or cocktail parties.
Thank you to my wonderful recipe testers that helped give this recipe a big thumbs up. Though, if you don't like heat, please cut the fresh chiles and red chile powder in half.