Ami and I usually sit in our breakfast room when we’re having an afternoon cup of tea. For her just a splash of milk, “pour it in with just a flick of the wrist, Sham,” Ami cautions me. And for myself, a cardamom popped in, no milk. We share namak paray, finger-thin crackly wafers spiced with cumin as we sip our chai. Ami used to bake buttercup-yellow dense cakes when I was a child, but she’s given up on baking now. But that’s all right, as my Aunty Shelly lives just down the road and I can steal a blueberry-banana bread loaf from her kitchen on most days.
My favourite chai-time treat is when Ami makes kebabs.
She plonks everything in the processor and blitzes it. Then it all goes into a mixing bowl and she tastes it, raw, just like that. “Mirch kam hai-this needs more chili,” Ami says as she effortlessly chops a few more green chilies between her index finger and thumb. They fall in bit by bit. Then she mixes it all again by hand and begins to shape the meat into small patties. She lines a baking tray with foil, and smears oil on it with her hands.
And right under the broiler they go.
We have them with a spicy, minty, yoghurt chutney.
*1 pound minced beef (non-lean)
*1 medium onion, chopped fine
*2 cups coarsely chopped fresh coriander, stems and leaves
*1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
*4 red or green chilies (optional)
*1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
*3/4 cup coarsely chopped green onions (white and green portion)
*2 tbsp coriander seeds
*2 tsp salt
*corn oil (or any other neutral oil) for shallow frying
*Combine meat, onion, coriander, mint, chilies, cayenne pepper, green onions, coriander seeds, egg and salt in a food processor and process untill well combined and onions, green onions and coriander are finely chopped.
*Form meat into 2-inch round flat patties, about 1/2-inch thick
At this stage you have two options- either fry the kebabs, or if you wish to employ healthy cooking techniques, broil them in the oven.
*Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a pan over medium heat. Working in batches, add patties to oil and fry for 30-40 seconds per side or until golden brown and cooked through, adding more oil as needed (you may need to change the oil as it darkens).
*Line a cookie sheet with foil and brush with corn oil.
*Arrange patties on a cookie sheet and brush each patty with corn oil.
*Place under a hot grill/broiler 30-40 seconds per side.
Serve with a yoghurt mint chutney and naan or other flatbread.