Air Fryer: Kebab Bites with Our Tikka Masala

August 06, 2023

Air Fryer: Kebab Bites with Our Tikka Masala

Itsy bitsy kebabs. Tiny kebabs. Indian meatballs. Kebabs masquerading as meatballs. Mini burgers. Oh, the renditions going through my head on what to call this recipe! I landed on Kebab Bites. Because when I think of what I created here with just a few tweaks of my recent burger recipe, I truly think of this as tiny bites of a somewhat traditional kebab.

I say somewhat because traditionally kebabs are small chunks of meat skewered with vegetables and then grilled. They originated in the Middle East and Central Asia. Ground meat that is seasoned and then mixed with nuts and raisins and formed into meatballs is often referred to as kafta. In Indian cuisine, we often refer to even ground meat spiced and formed on long skewers and grilled as kebabs. And, when I think of a kofta, it's more often beautifully crafted vegetarian fried dumplings found in the dish malai kofta, though it can also refer to a ground meat dumpling as well. So, is this is a kebab, a kofta, or a meatball? You decide. 

All I know is that this recipe is perfect for a quick fix and ideal for our kids in their first apartments. I've been thinking more and more of our next generation Indian Americans and how they will navigate. We have to set them up for success in the kitchen. I am especially eager to get it right as I see my own older daughter try to replicate her childhood food favorites in her first apartment in Evanston. And, as I chat more with the Desi moms groups sending their kids to school in the States from India, I realize all of our kids need direction. The yearning to make childhood foods is something I believe is innate in all of us and gets us through our inevitable ups and downs and ties us to our roots. I often think of my dad as a student at the University of Michigan in the 1960s and my father-in-law at Auburn - both coming from little villages in Punjab, India. The thrill they felt when they finally tasted an Indian chicken curry was seared into their memories precisely because it triggered their love of home, family, and their childhoods - everything they left behind when they came to the United States. And though Indian ingredients these days are plenty, the fast-paced life we all live means the recipes must be easy and reliable. This one absolutely is easy and does work - take it from Anupy Auntie! 

This is almost verbatim my burger recipe. But, instead of hand-molding a burger you instead use a teaspoon measure to create something that honestly will stand apart from that burger. It's a small twist, but one that makes a world of difference. Don't have an Air Fryer, but want to make this in your oven instead? I would suggest preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cooking for 25 minutes. I still need to test it, but this is a good benchmark. Let me know in the comment section below if you try it and where you land with cook time. Prefer vegetarian? Check out my Aloo Tikki or Spiced Potato Nuggets

Air Fryer Kebab Bites with Our Tikka Masala 
Makes 42 tiny bites

1 pound ground meat (chicken, lamb, beef, or turkey) (lamb is pictured above)
2/3 cup red or yellow onion, minced (I prefer red)
2 tablespoons Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek), hand crushed to release flavor
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons chaat masala
½ teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
1 teaspoon salt

1. Place all the ingredients in a deep bowl and hand mix until well blended. Use kitchen gloves if you prefer. 

2. Line your Air Fryer with parchment paper. Using a teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop out a heaping scoop of the mixture (about 2 teaspoons), and hand roll into a ball. Place the balls into the Air Fryer. Be sure they are comfortably spaced out and do not touch. I can fit 16 kebab bites into my air fryer at a time. If they touch, they will not cook evenly and you'll have to pull them apart and cook them for another minute or so. 

3. Cook at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes. When done, transfer them to a bowl, drain off and discard the fat remaining on the parchment paper, and reuse the paper for the next batch until you've finished cooking the mixture. If you prefer, you can replace the parchment paper between batches, but I don't find that necessary. You can also cook these without the parchment paper, but that gets messy. 

4. Serve immediately with our Tamarind Chutney. For a really fun curry, heat up a jar of our Tikka Masala and once bubbling, drop these beauties in, stir, and serve either with rice, Indian bread, or in a thick, crusty bun. Think of this as your Indian version of a Meatball Sub! 

Tips: To bake in the oven, cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 - 25 minutes. These are fantastic for a party. Serve them skewered with a toothpick and a side of Tamarind Chutney and Tikka Masala. Don't want this many? Cook up as many as you would like and keep the rest of the mixture refrigerated until ready to use again. Cooked too many and want to reheat them? Just put them into the Air Fryer basket without parchment paper and cook for 3 minutes until warm. Don't have access to dried Fenugreek Leaves? No worries, make this without them. You'll still absolutely be in heaven. When you find the fenugreek though, give it a try. It truly gets you to restaurant-quality. Want to try the fenugreek? Just make a purchase of $25 or more from our site over the next week (through Sunday, Aug. 13), email me at, and remind me to include a sample of dried fenugreek with your order. 

This is our Tikka Masala - one of the only plant-based version on the market made creamy with almonds and not dairy. You'll love this for a quick dinner and now with this one jar you can make a weekend gourmet treat into a daily weekday meal. It's the goal of this website and my company - to make homemade, healthy, and delicious Indian food as EASY AS PIE. xoxo Anupy. 

 Want to hear more about Fenugreek or Methi? Watch this from my YouTube Channel. Click here to subscribe. 




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