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A good seekh kebab is the gold standard of kebabs in India. In this version, chef Meherwan Irani starts with ground lamb and bumps up the aromatics, adding plenty of garlic, ginger, cilantro, and to brighten the dish, mint. The distinctive shape of these kebabs has a purpose: the top of the ridges char while the furrows stay tender and juicy.
If the meat sticks to your hands when shaping, oiling or even simply moistening your hands with water will make the task easier.
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped, plus 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced with the grain
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced (1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Indian red chile powder, or substitute cayenne
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chile powder, or substitute paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala
2.5 lbs ground lamb
1/2 cup melted ghee or unsalted butter, for basting
Naan, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
Cilantro-mint chutney, for serving
In a large bowl, add the chopped onion, cilantro, garlic, mint, ginger, serrano, coriander, salt, cumin, both chile powders, turmeric, and garam masala; stir until well combined. Add the lamb and use your hands to mix well, pounding and smashing the meat between your hands to thoroughly incorporate the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, soak ten 8-inch bamboo skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to cook the kebabs, preheat a grill to high (about 450°F) or a grill pan over very high heat. Drain the skewers and shake off any excess water. Retrieve the lamb mixture and divide into 10 evenly sized portions (about 5 ounces each). Roll the portions into tight balls; working with one ball at a time, thread onto a skewer. Starting from the tip of the skewer, work the mixture up, gently rolling the kebab between your palms so that it is an even thickness from end to end, with a slightly flattened, ribbed sausage shape, about 1 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining balls and 9 skewers.
Once the grill is hot, add the kebabs, spacing about 1 inch apart. Close the grill or tent the grill pan loosely with foil, and cook until the meat is charred on one side and loosens easily from the grates, about 2 minutes. Open the grill or remove the foil, turn the kebabs, and continue cooking with the grill open until charred on the opposite side, about 2 minutes. Baste the kebabs liberally with ghee and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through, 1-2 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, with thinly sliced onion, naan, lime wedges, and chutney.