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Chicken Shami Kebabs

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These Old Delhi style chicken shami kebabs are amazing!

If you like chicken shami kebabs, you are going to love these. On a recent trip to New Delhi, I tried chicken shami kebabs just like you will get when you make this recipe. I’m telling you… shami kebabs don’t get any better.

They are delicious served with a side of coriander and chilli chutney, rumali rotis and a cold lager to two! 

chicken shami kebabs

About this recipe

I tried these chicken shami kebabs at a restaurant in Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi called Aslam Chicken. The place is famous for their chicken dishes such as this grilled butter chicken and for good reason… their chicken dishes are out of this world delicious. 

The goal with these amazing chicken shami kebabs is to get the exterior a crispy, deep golden brown with a soft, somewhat stringy texture in the centre.

Just follow this recipe and you will be in shami kebab heaven.

What makes shami kebabs different?

What sets Shami Kebabs apart from other kebabs is the use of chana dal, a type of lentil.

Along with cooking the chicken, you cook chana dal and then mix the two together into a dough-like mixture. This gives the kebabs their distinctive texture. The seasoning is similar to other kebabs but to help hold the mixture together, additional binding agents such as beaten eggs and bread crumbs may be used. No bread crumbs needed for this recipe though!

What do you serve with chicken shami kebabs?

You could just serve them with quartered limes which you squeeze over the kebabs at the table. But I like to serve them with the optional sauce below and sliced onions as I had them in Delhi on several occasions. At Aslam chicken, the chicken shami kebabs were also served with rumali rotis.

I recommend making some or purchasing them at a good Indian grocer. However, these chicken shami kebabs are equally as delicious served with naans or chapattis. You will also like these kebabs served with grilled butter chicken.

Pro Tips

These kebabs are really easy to prepare but there are a few things you can do to make the job even easier. 

1.) Preparing the lentils

Be sure to soak the chana lentils for at least 30 minutes. If time permits, you can soak them longer which will speed up the cooking process.

2.) Forming the patties

You can form the patties by simply using your hands to do so. If you have a round mould, like the one shown below, it will make them look more uniform and neater.

3.) Frying the shami kebabs

Be sure to get the oil in your pan nice an hot. Then sear the kebabs until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Step by step photographs

Ingredients for chicken shami kebabs

Get all your ingredients together before starting. It’s a lot easier that way.

Simmering the chicken with the aromatic ingredients.

Place the chicken with the garlic, chillies and whole spices. in a pan.

Adding water to the pan to simmer the chicken.

Cover with the water and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through.

Chicken shami kebabs ready to fry.

Form the chicken shami kebabs into neat discs and heat some oil in your pan.

Frying the shami kebabs

Fry on one side for about 3 – 4 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Then flip over to cook the other side.

Shami kebab

Transfer the finished kebabs to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Chicken shami kebabs served on a plate with rumali rotis.

Eat them whole or tear them up and wrap into naans, chapattis or rumali rotis.


Yield: 2 - 4

Chicken Shami Kebabs

chicken shami kebabs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes


  • 200g (1 cup) split chana lentils, washed and soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • 600g (21 oz) boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3 pieces each
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 level tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 6 dried Kashmiri chillies, roughly chopped
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, grated and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 2 tbsp coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Rapeseed (canola) oil for shallow frying
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 200g (about a cup) Greek yoghurt
  • 30g (1 oz) coriander (cilantro) roughly chopped
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Juice of one lemon or lime (to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 6 green finger chillies, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped


  1. Get your split chana lentils on soak while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. Place the chicken, garlic, salt, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried Kashmiri chillies in a sauce pan and pour 125ml (1/2 cup) 250ml (1 cup) water over it all.
  3. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat and cover the pan. Cover the pan and Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and becoming tender.
  4. Strain the soaked chana lentils and add them to the pan. Cover with 750ml (3 cups) water and continue simmering for anout 60 minutes or until almost all the water has evaporated and the lentils are so soft you can smash them between two fingers. If needed, you can add about 250ml – 500ml more water if needed to cook the lentils.
  5. By this time, you should easily be able to break the chicken pieces up with a wooden spatula. Take off the heat.
  6. Begin smashing the ingredients in the pan with a wooden spatula or potato masher. You want to spend some time doing this as you need to you need to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  7. Add the two eggs, the grated, squeezed onion, chopped coriander, chilli powder and garam masala and continue mashing it all together until the mixture looks like clay when squeezed into a ball but the chicken will still look quite stringy.
  8. Divide the mashed chicken mixture into four six to eight equal sized balls. Then form the balls into neat, flattened patties. If you want to get really posh with this, use a metal ring mold to ensure they all look the same.
  9. Now heat about 5cm (2 inches) of oil in a frying pan. When visibly hot, carefully add the shami kebabs and fry on one side until crispy and brown, lightly caramelised and then flip them over to do the same to the other side. It should take about two minutes per side.
  10. Transfer the cooked shami kebabs to a wire rack to drip and excess oil and serve immediately with lime wedges or the optional sauce and sliced onions below.
  12. Slice the onion first and place it, covered in the fridge until ready to serve.
  13. Place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a blender except for the yoghurt. Pulse these ingredients a couple of time and then add about 2 tablespoons of the yoghurt. Now blend until you have a smooth paste. In a bowl, whisk the remaining yoghurt until smooth and then add the paste. Whisk it all together until you have a smooth sauce. Be sure to taste it and add more lemon/lime juice or salt to taste.
  14. Serve the sliced onion with the sauce poured over the top and add as much as you like to your hot shami kebabs.

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Monday 18th of March 2024

can i make these shami kabab without using egg?

Dan Toombs

Monday 18th of March 2024

Yes, just make sure you press very firmly together so the meat binds. Dan

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