lentil and pumpkin shami kebab

shami kebab

Yup, another pumpkin related post this week! This one is all about vegetarian kebabs without the need for outdoor grilling which makes it fantastic if it is getting chilly outdoors. Lighter, warmer, and fun and of course orange, these are literally the components of the theme of this recipe. 

lentilles du puy

There are probably a zillion different types of kebabs that you can find in almost every city of India. Skewers are adorned with delicious cuts and flavors of all sorts of meat and others like these shami kebabs than are seasoned  and then pan fried to crispy perfection. Traditionally, you would make these kebabs with ground meat (lamb, beef, or even poultry) but off late, I've been hankering a craving for something a little more festive surrounding fall flavors with a lighter flair. So out went the meat while in walked the lentilles du puy and raw freshly grated pumpkin and a crispy spicy kebab was born on a hot cast iron pan in my kitchen.

(Just in case the heightened level of my excitement doesn't come through, I am REALLY HAPPY with the way the kebab held its texture and shape during and after cooking and best of all they even after refrigeration. Just the right texture and just the right amount of moisture). 

vegetarian shami kebab

This pickled red onion relish is delicious but more importantly it is quick and easy to make. A 15 minute onion pickle that is loaded with sour and very mild notes of  sweetness goes great with these vegetarian kebabs. Slice, shake, sit and eat, that pretty much sums up all the effort you need here. 

kebab making

I'll give you a fair warning here, these kebabs are hot, if you like them hotter add more chili, if you don't cut back. The number of spices on the ingredient list make it look lengthy and daunting but believe it really is worth using fresh whole spices and then grinding them down to give the vegetable kebabs a richer flavor.

Tip: I normally adjust the amount of salt and pepper based on taste test after I fry one kebab. If I feel the salt is too little, I will add a little more. If it is too much, then add a little bit of bread crumbs. It is better to start with a lower amount of salt and then adjust the seasoning.

shami kebab2

lentil and pumpkin shami kebabs

yields: 12-14 kebabs


1 cup lentilles du puy
3 cups grated pumpkin, raw (sugar pie pumpkin)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon chick pea flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea-salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1 teaspoon red chili flakes, freshly ground  
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon mace, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin,
2 cloves
zest of one lime, fresh
1 green cardamom pod, seeds removed (discard the green shell)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, freshly chopped
1 green thai chili pepper
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs will work too)
olive oil for frying

1. Clean the lentils for any stones, wash and soak them in cold water overnight. The next day, drain the water, add 2 cups of water and bring the contents to a boil on a medium high flame in a thick bottom stock pot. Then reduce the flame to low and cook the lentils for 45 minutes until tender. Using a sieve, drain the liquid from the lentils and place the lentils on a clean towel to absorb any excess liquid.
2. In a coffee grinder or spice grinder, grind all the spices from the coriander to the cardamom seeds and keep aside.
3. In a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil. Add the lentils to this mix and pulse for 5 seconds 5 times to get a coarse mixture. The texture crumbly and not smooth. Transfer the contents to a bowl and using your hands mix the ingredients (this ensures that everything is blended and seasoned uniformly). With the palms of your hands, mold the kebabs into little flattened discs that are about 1 inch in diameter. You should get approximately 12-14 kebabs. 
3. Heat a little oil in a cast iron skillet on a medium-high flame (I normally use about 2 tablespoon for every 6 kebabs). Fry 6 kebabs at a time for about 4 minutes on each side, until each kebab is golden brown (the internal temperature should reach 130F). Place the kebabs on a clean paper towel to drain any excess oil and serve hot with rice or flat bread (like naan or roti) and plain yogurt. 

quick pickled red onion relish

servings: 2-4 people


1 large red onion
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 green thai chili pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, finely chopped
a pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar

1. Peel the onion, cut into half and then thinly slice each section. 
2. In a clean jar, mix all the ingredients together.  Cover the jar tightly with a lid and shake it a few times. Leave for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. You can adjust the amount of salt and sugar as needed but I prefer to have this more sour and less salty and sweet.