Indian Shish Kabbabs
Ingredients: 3 Lbs ground beef 3 Tbsp fresh ginger 1/2 an Onion 2-3 Chillies 5-6 Cilantro leaves 3-4 Tbsp of Cumin seeds Directions: Finely chop ginger, onions, chillies, and cilantro. Roast the cumin seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes to release the aroma then grind. Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes or more. Roll kabbabs and fry or barbecue.
It was a real treat making kabbabs at my sister Jamuna's place in Coronado last night. At the market in El Valle last Sunday I picked up a hand carved wooden pestle and mortar. I tried using the handicraft for grinding the roasted cumin seeds and at first it seemed impossible. Then instead of grinding hard and vigorously as I was, I eased up on the force I was using and kept grinding and grinding singing along with the grinding. The result was the perfect ground cumin grain for mixing into the ground beef. “Patience you are in Panama now” I'm sure the little wooden bowl spoke to me. So, I kicked back with a glass of wine (my wife's favourite, the Chianti goblet in a basket that I can never find in the New Brunswick liquor stores in Canada) I proceeded to slowly mix in all the fresh herbs, spices and root. My daughter Kara came home with the best looking fresh ginger-root that I have seen anywhere. In the past it was difficult to peel a typical Panamanian ginger-root, I had little patience for it. But last night the ingredients were aligned like stars. All fresh habaneros, green and red chillies, local cilantro, and onions, everything chopped as fine as possible. The four or five fresh local chillies blended easily with the ground beef and it was not spicy at all. As always I used loads of ginger-root. Half a dozen long cilantro leaves. I'm not afraid anymore of going overboard with any kabbab ingredient except onions. There must have been four or five heaping tablespoons of ground roasted cumin seeds rubbed in there till the mix was ready for rolling.
Oh yes, rolling the kabbabs is a skill-set by itself. You know how it is there is always someone in the group with this special talent. On the streets of Karachi where I first had kabbabs there may have been special kabbab roller job positions. They use a steel skewer and cook the kabbabs over an open coal fire. My version involves an electric grill and a wooden spoon handle to form the kabbab with a hole running down in the center. A nice even thickness and a tight roll is what you are going for. It is helpful to wet your hands before rolling. We served it last night with Tortillas and chutney made with chimi-churi, sour-cream, lime.