Succulent, moist, juicy, melt in your mouth joys! I love, love, love these kababs… these Chapli’s! Your choice of ground meat tossed in with a myriad exotic spices and a bunch of fresh herbs cooked to perfectly textured divine morsels. Enticing aromas with tons of flavors! You are gonna get hooked on these disc shaped flat chaplis.
When you see how easy and quick these kababs are, you are going to make a trip to your nearest Indian grocery store and start binging tirelessly 😉 ! Be it sandwiched between piping hot naan or pita with freshly cut onions, over some delicate pilaf or in a salad bowl drizzled with green mint chutney or raita… or simply straight to your mouth. Ahmm… ahmm… yes, all work!
Born in a country half-obsessed with tandoori chicken, seekh kababs and paneer tikkas, kababs are engraved in my DNA. kababs are a part of our lives, they have a cult following! Be it family weekend meals at home, a visit to your favorite restaurant or a celebration, every meal starts with an array of kababs. They come to the table in platters that get emptied in a few minutes. Kababs equate to good times, happy times, family times.
Origin of kebabs
The kabab, also spelled kebab or kabob, is said to have originated in the Middle East, Persia to be more precise. And from there made its way to the rest of the world. They have been a staple in the Middle East, Africa, India and Pakistan for ages.
Over time hundreds of different types of kababs, with varied meats and different techniques, have evolved. The recipes have been passed on through generations. I have been lucky to have my share of these delicacies in varied forms in my life and will try to cover a few of them every now and then on GypsyPlate.
What are chapli kababs?
Chapli kababs are originally from Afghanistan but are now more commonly associated with Peshawar in Pakistan. No wonder they are also called Peshawari Kababs. These Mughal influenced patties of ground meat are a specialty of Pashtun-style cuisine, which is generally Afghan and Pakistani cuisine.
The name “chapli” comes from the Pashto word “Chaprikh”, meaning flat, resembling the way these kababs look. The disks could be round, oval or palm shaped. The sizes vary too, from small to humungous rounds!
They were traditionally made with ground beef or lamb, though chicken chaplis are extremely popular too. This is mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies and a whole lot of eclectic spices. Some use some kind of binders like eggs, cornmeal or just regular flour.
Many crowded streets in Pakistan have roadside stalls with the largest skillets you will ever encounter shallow frying these flat patties. They are cooked on a large scale, as locals adore this favorite street food. In India too, these kababs are popular in cities like Delhi and Lucknow, where the cuisine was influenced by Moghul dynasties.
We have tried this with all kinds of ground meats and it turns out excellent every single time. Today we are making them with chicken. While you’re here, check out my roundup of the best ground chicken recipes.
- Ground Chicken
- Scallions – Regular onions have a higher water content. You can use them in place of scallions, but first squeeze out the water with your hands after chopping.
- Tomato – Deseeded and chopped.
- Herbs – Cilantro and mint, chopped. They impart tons of freshness.
- Binders – Egg and flour. * for keto options, see below *
- Ginger & Garlic – In paste form.
- Green chilies – Jalapeño or serrano, deseeded and finely chopped.
- Spices – Red chili flakes, coriander powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder, black pepper. Don’t worry if you’re missing something, it’ll still be great.
- Oil – For shallow frying. Sometimes I use ghee instead, as it gives nice flavors.
Tips to make your chapli kababs soft and juicy
- Use fattier ground chicken. Skip the lean meat, as some amount of fat is very essential to keep them moist and tender. If your ground chicken has less than 10% fat, add a little butter into your mixture.
- Eggs are important. Besides being a binder, the egg adds tons of fat to help your chapli kebabs stay tender.
- Rest the marinated meat in the refrigerator before frying. That’s the secret to not breaking the kababs while frying. And it lets the meat marinate in all those wonderful spices and herbs.
- Moisten your palms with oil or water. The chicken mixture is very soft and sticky. Having wet palms helps tremendously when shaping the patties. After shaping them, place them directly in the skillet rather than keeping them on a plate and then frying them. This way there is less handling and less chance of falling apart.
- Cook them at the right temperature. Keep the heat on medium. Higher heat might make them dry and chewy. Don’t overcrowd them in the pan.
- Take them out on a paper towel and keep them covered until serving, so as not not to dry out.
Now the easy part
Make sure your ground chicken mince is without any liquid or water (you can use a paper towel to dry it). In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients except tomatoes. We add those at the end, as they can leech water into the mix.
Refrigerate for at least for 30 minutes to a few hours.
When ready to cook, stir in chopped tomatoes and form your patties. If you find it difficult to shape them by hand, partially shape them, then flatten them in the skillet with your fingers or a spatula, being careful not to burn yourself of course. 🙂
Shallow fry them in a skillet till they have a nice golden brown sear. The time will vary a little depending upon the thickness of the patties (we do about ⅜ of an inch), but mostly they will need about need 5 minutes per side. Watch the edges, once they are no longer pink or raw your kabab should be done cooking.
If you are like me and like to taste and adjust seasoning, fry a small patty as a sampler.
How to make these kababs keto friendly
Simply replace the flour with an equal amount of either almond flour or ground pork rinds.
What to serve these chapli kababs with
They can be treated as appetizers and served with some kind of green chutney, like my cilantro mint chutney. Pair them with a salad of onions, tomato and cucumbers sprinkled with lime wedges.
Or they can be a main course when served with piping hot naan or roti. They go excellent with pitas and even over some pilaf or rice. A side of my cucumber raita and you are all set. We personally like them in our salad too, as a leftover the next day.
Is this a great meal prep contender?
Oh yes. You can make a ton of them in advance and freeze them for up to a couple of months. Shape the chaplis and layer them on a parchment paper lined tray without overcrowding. Freeze them completely. Once frozen, place them in a freezer safe bag. When the craving hits, just thaw however many you want to cook that day.
Cooked chaplis can be refrigerated for 4-5 days and they are great leftover meals.
- Please do try it with beef or lamb. They are so so good. Just follow the same recipe with your choice of meat.
- It’s very common to add dry pomegranate seeds, roughly ground, to the mince mixture in Peshawar. It gives a little sour taste to the kababs.
- Some people add scrambled eggs to the mixture.
- Another popular way to cook these kababs in Pakistan is to keep a slice of tomato on the kabab and fry it along with the kabab.
Well my friends, if you like your hamburgers you are going to love these chapli kababs. They just have a little riot of colors and tons of extra flavors to wow your taste buds. Give them a try and you will be amazed how easy and doable they are. Master them now for all the future (hopefully not too distant) get togethers, parties and beer nights with friends and families.
Welcome to the Kabab-Cult!
Chapli Kababs, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try these other great appetizers from around the world!
German Sauerkraut Balls
Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish Shrimp)
Chicken Tikka Kebabs
Guasacaca (Venezuelan Guacamole)
- 2 lbs ground chicken
- 1 Tbsp garlic paste
- 1 Tbsp ginger paste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 Tbsp red chili flakes
- 1 Tbsp coriander powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp green chili, chopped (See note 1)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 6 Tbsp flour (For keto options, see note 2)
- 1 cup scallion, chopped
- 1.5 cup tomato, chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup mint, chopped (optional)
- Oil for frying
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients well except tomato and oil. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to a few hours.
- When ready to cook, mix in tomatoes. Wet your palms with a little oil or water and shape the chicken mixture into round patties. The patties should be thin (about 3/8 inch) so as to cook quickly and evenly.
- Heat oil on medium heat in a skillet and, once oil is hot, place the chicken patties in oil and let them fry for five minute, till they get golden brown. Flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve along with green chutney and vegetable salad.
- While using green chilies, jalapeños and serranoes vary in hotness. Always check the chili hotness and add accordingly to the mixture. Sometimes I add just 1/2 Tbsp if it's a very hot jalapeño.
- To make these keto friendly, replace the flour with 6 Tbsp almond flour or ground pork rinds.
- Use a paper towel to absorb any excess liquid from the ground chicken. You would want the chicken mixture as dry as possible to shape it into patties. You might feel the mix is too loose to shape them into patties but it works. You can always add a little more flour.
- If you find the mixture is difficult to shape, finish off the flattening in the skillet itself with your fingers or a spatula.
Nutrition InformationYield 15 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 178Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 79mgSodium 328mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 15g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Be sure to check out my roundup of the 30+ BEST Ground Chicken Recipes!
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