Indian Kebab!

Today's dish is Kebab Hindi, Arabic for Indian Kebab. The person who invented and named this dish, very clearly, has never been to India, never tried Indian food, never smelled Indian food and never even imagined what Indian food is about.

Although you might think this is weird, but I always said Syrian cuisine and especially that of Damascus is similar to Japanese cuisine. Not in flavours or ingredients but in spirit. We in Damascus likes nice fresh flavours. I am not talking about average restaurant menu of grilled meat and hummus, but home properly cooked Damascene cuisine. Like the Japanese, we don't use many spices to choke our dishes. We like to use fresh tasty simple ingredients. We don't over complicate things and we let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Kebab Hindi represents every thing I love about Damascene cuisine. Three simple ingredients; tomato, onion and meat, seasoned with salt and pepper. Nothing more. All put together in the simplest possible form. Yet it works out a treat.

No spices, no chili, no curry powder ... you know what I mean now. Nothing Indian about this Indian Kebab!

Here is my Kebab Hindi recipe:

Minced Meat 600g (Beef or Lamb)
Good quality Tomatoes 500g
Two Onions
Butter (optional)
Pine Nuts 30g

Heat the oven to 180C.

Thinly slice the onions and roughly chop the tomatoes. In a high edges roasting dish add the onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add a little hot water to cover the bottom of the dish. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Stir once or twice while cooking to get an even cooking and prevent the surface from drying up.

While the vegetables are cooking start making the kebab. Mix the meat, pine nuts and a table spoon worth of butter if you wish. Season with salt and pepper and work together till combined. Fry a small patty to taste the seasoning. Once your happy with the taste start forming small kebabs. Wet your hands with cold water while making the kebabs to make things easier.

Arrange the kebabs over the vegetable mixture and return to the oven for another 15-25 minutes depending how do you prefer your meat done.

I like to serve Kebab Hindi with nice crusty bread to soak all the beautiful juices. Alternatively serve with Arabic bread and/or vermicelli rice.


Aspasia B said...

Love your blog! You've won a Beautiful Blogger award:

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog. I am so glad you like it and thank you very much for the award. I am honoured.

Bana said...

My mom never cooked it in the oven -consequently neither did I- but I'm willing to try. Your blog is a great place for inspiration :D

Tammam Aloudat said...

You should read this

tasteofbeirut said...

What Kano? No allspice no cinnamon no seven spices? Still I love that kebab and I find it totally alluring and mouth watering!

Kano said...

Welcome to my blog.
If your mum doesn't cook this in the oven, I assume she fries the meat kebabs then cooks them in the sauce.
Our butcher cooks kebab hindi a different way. He cooks the onion and tomatoes till they are fully cooked and the flavour is concentrated then he adds the the kebabs and send it to the oven.

Thank you very much mate!

To be honest with you I cook kebab hindi either this way with salt and pepper or I use allspice. Depends on how nice the tomatoes I have to hand.
I don't use seven spices (or any other spice mix) at all in my cooking. It takes away some of the individuality of different dishes and most food comes out with a similar flavours. That is just me!

Bana said...

Hi kano,
Your blog is priceless! You're right my mum fries the meat kebabs first then adds them to the tomato and onion sauce. I tried your oven recipe and it was amazing! actually less fussy than my mum's :p But I couldn't help adding some lemon grass and cardamom to the meant. My Dutch friends are also loving your blog and some have even printed out this recipe to try it :D

Keep up the good cooking

Kano said...


Lemon Grass and Cardamom!!! That is some unusual fusion cooking.

I am so glad you and your friends like the blog. Please keep coming back for more delicious recipes.

Jules said...

In the Syrian community where I grew up, we used dibs-ir-ra-man, or pomegranate syrup in the sauce.

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog. Many many people add pomegranate molasses to this dish and many other dishes that are tomato sauce based.

Zara Choudhury said...

Hi Kano,

Your blog is a life saver! I got married to a Syrian guy (I'm from London but we live in Dubai) very recently and I need to learn how to cook Syrian staples to make him happy! Tried this last night and it was delicious and he was thrilled to come home and find it there. Best part was that it's SO easy! I don't have time for complicated dinners after being at work all day.

I think next time I'll try it with the same amount of minced meat but with more onions and tomatoes as the sauce wasn't enough. I think I'll do it with lamb mince instead of beef next time as well.

Quick question: my kebabs looked a bit dry by the it because I left it in for too long? Yours look more moist and juicy. Maybe because I made them too big so it took longer to cook?

Anyway.. I can't wait to make the other stuff on this blog!

Kano said...

@Dubai Bride

Welcome to my blog. I hope you will have many more happy satesfying dinners.

The most important factor is cooking time. I like my kebabs just cooked (almost pink in the middle). The other factor is the fat content. Lamb meat contains more fat than beef so the kebabs comes out juicy.

Koser Yasmine Samkough said...

I love love love this recipe!! Very easy and everyone loved it! Thanks! =)

Kano said...


I am so glad you and everyone liked the dish. Easy and delicious!

Chef Jay said...

I think I'll try preparing this dish other than my own barbecue rib recipes this weekend. My friends will surely enjoy this food! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

wonderful.. I think i would follow this simple recipe to surprise my husband today.. i'm glad i saw it since his known loved version of kebab hindi must be the damascene way you mentioned! In aleppo we fuse the meat with cloves and cinnamon, fry red peppers with the onion and sour the sauce a bit with few drops of debs rumman!

Kano said...


Sorry for the late reply!

How did the kebab hindi go? Did it bring back the Damascene flavour your husband loved?

bhaiyya said...

So cute!! Kebab Hindi - I am from India and we have a deep fried round-patty Kabab with gram - lentils as the binder - in which we load minced onions, ginger-garlic green chillies and coriander, cumin and a garam masala mix of 10 spices - yet you know what we call it? Shami Kabab ( Or the Kabab of Sham, or the Levant)- though for most Indian palates complex seasoning is a must ( My normally greedy Labrador refused a super-seasoned with 17 spices - Indian muslim kabab called a galavati ) I for one am a fan of the simple tastes of meat and vegetables enjoyed in the middle-east and will be trying out many of your recipes
Here's the recipe for Shami kabab - notice how many 'extras' go in - Nothing Arabian about it :-)


Kano said...


I can't explain my surprise the first time I tried Shami Kebab, I was not expecting that! Nothing Shami about it exactly the same way nothing Indian about our Kebab Hindi.

Welcome to my blog.

Ahluuul said...

Aahhh! This seems like kawaj, no? (I sent an email to the address listed above right with all my recipes requests one of which was kawaj :p )

My mother-in-law doesn't add pine nuts to her kawaj and I think it's cooked on the stove top, not oven.

Thank you for all your time and effort in maintaining this blog. Your passion shows through!

Kano said...


Kawaj as far as I know is not an exact unique entity (sorry got carried away with big words!).

The word Kawaj refer to a rustic vegetable with/without meat stew. You can many things if you wish. The stables are onion tomatoes and tomato paste. Meat, potato, courgettes are all extras.

Did you check my Dawood Pasha recipe? It might be closer to your mother in law Kawaj.

Ahluuul said...

Yes, thanks I just looked at it and you're right, minus the chickpeas (which I think is a good addition), sounds like my mother-in-law's kawaj. People might wonder why I don't just ask her? Well, she (Arabs) measure things as a 'small handful of this and a little bit of that' which is difficult for any used to mere teaspoons and cups!

I will try the Dawood Pasha and let you know how it goes :)

Alan Janbay said...

I love the comparison you do between Japanese cuisine and the cooking style of Damascus. I agree with you. My aunt made Kebab Hendi a few times and I always loved eating it with rice on the side. Great recipes you have!

Anonymous said...

Hi. Just stumbled upon your blog whilst researching Turkish food. Am loving it already!
Will be bombarding you constantly for tips and recipes.

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog. Please feel free to ask me anything.

Anonymous said...

you are AHHHHHHHH-maaaaaay-zinggggg!!!!! i have been married for five years to a damascene husband who is THE pickiest eater. this is the first and ONLY meal i have made that he had nothing to critique!!! He just smiled ear-to-ear and said: 'babe, this is so good.' I was the proudest wife in the world. THANK YOU for sharing the recipe and all ur tips to make original Syrian cuisine. I'll be back to your site as a frequest visiter!

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog and sorry for the late reply. Thank you for the nice words. I am glad to be of help.

Imran said...

Hi Kano,

To your point on fresh tasty simple ingredients; as an Indian, I feel obliged to inform you that most of the home cooking done in India is very simple, less spicy and to a large extent vegetarian. The Indian restaurants abroad represent only a small part(North Western India) of the rather diverse Indian cuisine, and the rich sophisticated curries served there are rarely eaten at home.

Kano said...


I feel your pain! Same applies to Syrian cuisine. Restaurants only serve a small part of the cuisine and makes it feel repetitive.

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