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Tender and juicy inside, crisp and well browned outside: Afghanistan’s beef kebabs

Chapli Kebab

Appears in May-June 2021

1 hour 30 minutes active

Chapli Kebab

Chapli kebabs, a popular South Asian street food, are not grilled skewers of meat. Rather, they’re patties of ground meat seasoned with bold aromatics and fragrant spices that are fried on a flat surface until well-browned and crisp on both sides. We add egg to ours to keep the texture rich and tender, plus a little starch to help with binding and browning. Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, is commonly used in chapli kebab, but all-purpose flour works just as well, so use whichever you prefer. The kebabs get a little spiciness and color from Kashmiri chili powder, a vivid-red pure chili powder; cayenne pepper is a fine substitute, but since it runs hotter, you may wish to add the lesser amount. We discovered that if the ground beef is very fine, the patties are liable to puff up as they cook, but pressing on them with a metal spatula during frying helps keep them thin and flat. The kebabs are delicious tucked into warmed flatbread, along with fresh cilantro and sliced onion and tomato, then finished with cool, creamy yogurt.




Don’t cook the kebabs immediately after forming them. The patties are quite thin and delicate; refrigerating them for at least 30 minutes after shaping makes them easier to handle. Also, don’t crank up heat when cooking the patties. Medium heat works well for browning and crisping.

1 hour

30 minutes active

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MAY 2022

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