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What is a Seekh Kebab?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Feb 25, 2024
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A seekh kebab is an Indian dish, somewhat similar to a shish kebab, which consists of ground meat and spices pressed onto a skewer and cooked. These kebabs are traditionally cooked using a tandoor, which is a type of oven popular throughout India and the Middle East, though other types of ovens or grills can work just as well. While lamb is the traditional meat for this dish, depending on what is prevalent in certain areas, personal preference, and cultural or religious taboos, other meats such as beef can be used. A seekh kebab is traditionally part of Indian cuisine, though many modern chefs in the West have begun preparing varieties of this dish as well.

While the term “kebab” typically conjures up images of individual pieces of meat and vegetables skewered and cooked over an open flame, a seekh kebab is similar but markedly different from shish kebabs in a number of ways. The idea of a kebab as being synonymous with a shish kebab is typically a Western association, and “kebab” merely refers to a piece of meat that is cooked. It seems that the term may have first referred to meat that was fried, but over time the term came to be associated with grilled meat instead.

A seekh kebab typically begins with ground meat of some kind; lamb meat is the most traditional type for this dish though beef is also quite popular. The meat is ground, or minced, and this ground meat is mixed with other spices and seasonings to flavor the meat. Spices used to flavor a seekh kebab typically depend on the recipe or chef, though common ingredients include garlic paste, ginger paste, finely diced onions, ground coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper. These are mixed together with the ground meat until the final product is fully incorporated together, similar to making a meatloaf.

This meat and seasoning mixture is then taken in handfuls and pressed onto a skewer, creating an even layer of the mixture around most of the skewer. The final seekh kebab should look somewhat similar to a corndog that is entirely made from the meat mixture. This skewer is then cooked over open heat such as a grill or even broiled in an oven. Traditionally, a seekh kebab is cooked using a tandoor, though this type of oven is fairly rare outside of Indian or Middle Eastern kitchens. Seekh kebabs are often served with mint sauce, an appropriate chutney, naan bread, or even yogurt.

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Discussion Comments

By bogof — On Feb 28, 2013

@fify: The three kebabs: adana, kubideh and seekh are completely different. Having tasted all three many times, I know the taste is completely different between them. The spices added to the meat are different. The spices in seekh kebab are typically Indian. India is some distance from Iran and Turkey.

By serenesurface — On Mar 17, 2011

@burcinc-- It might be hard to recreate the exact recipe of the Seekh kebab you've had because as far as I know, there are many different ingredients/spices that can be used and it varies from region to region. I think you can ask the restaurant chef to know for sure but here are the spices I use to make Seekh kebab.

In addition to onion and garlic paste, cumin and ginger powder, I also use thyme, red chili powder, garam masala and a little bit of dried mango powder. You can get the chili powder, garam masala (a spicy mix) and the mango powder (also called amchoor)from any Indian/Pakistani grocery store.

My mom says that some people also use green onion instead of regular onions and add crushed pomegranate seeds and chat masala (another spice mix that's used to make channa or chickpeas masala). Like I said, you might want to find out which spices that chef preferred. Or you can experiment with some of these and see how you like it. Good luck!

By burcinc — On Mar 15, 2011

I have been using onion, garlic, cumin and ginger to make Seekh kebab but somehow it doesn't taste the same as the one I had at a restaurant. Which other spices can I use to make the authentic seekh kebab? Can you please suggest some?

By fify — On Mar 13, 2011

Seekh kebab sounds exactly like Turkish Adana kebab and Persian kubideh kebab, although, I think they use different spices. The Turkish Adana kebab I had was very spicy and hot, the Persian kubideh used less spices, mainly parsley, pepper and salt; it was not hot at all. But they look the same and are also made from ground beef or lamb on a skewer. Another commonality is that they are all served with pita bread or something similar.

I don't know where this kind of kebab first originated, but these countries are not far from each other geographically. I imagine that kebab is something that was carried over to neighboring countries through trade and travel.

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