After nearly a week of eating cod and flounder, I had a hankering for some spicy and/or meat dishes. With a typhoon over our heads in Tokyo and me being pretty fagged out from my Iwate trip, I stayed in and made kebabs. Not the rather sordid variety you find in the lower sort of fast food restaurant back home in the UK, but one of my favourites of all time: chappli kebab. I also had some cream leftover from my cod cooking so I bought some chicken and made reshmi tikka chicken kebabs also, which provided a suitable accompaniment. One rarely finds the chappli kebab on offer in restaurants in the West, and my particular variety is as tasty as it is simple to make. Containing plentiful green chillies, anardana seed, tomato and cheaper cuts of beef I minced myself by hand, they came out quite spectacular. The secret is of course, not to grind the coriander or cumin seeds too finely, to leave a nice texture, and to use browned besan flour rather than egg to bind them. A real chappli kebab should be deep-fried in the lard rendered from the dhumba fat-tailed sheep, and be enriched with plenty of beef bone marrow, but I could not reproduce either of these conditions at home for obvious reasons; instead I shallow-fried the kebabs in ghee and used a cheap cut of stewing beef for a bit of extra fat and connective tissue. Otherwise they came out quite authentic and probably not very different from the kebabs eaten today on the northwest frontier, since antiquity. I ate mine with unleavened flatbreads, straight off the fire, and with copious lashings of hot walnut-mint chutney (if you haven’t tried this, do, as it is incomparable) on the side.
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