Mince meat kebabs are a fast food and street food staple in Kenya and all over East Africa. This is because of the strong Indian influence along the coastal area, in fact some are made by using skewers and are known as Seekh Kebabs (story for another day). My first encounter with fast food kebabs was way back in my primary school days when a plate of masala chips or bhajias was never complete without our Kenyan Kebabs.
There are many variations of these kebabs. First of all you are not restricted to using beef only, you can use chicken, goat, lamb, fish, pork or even mutton. The spices and herbs are also a very personal choice and they vary from one fast food restaurant to the next, household to household or even street vendor to street vendor. The method of cooking is also quite varied because you have a choice of grilling over charcoal, baking them in the oven, shallow frying or deep frying.
I have limited myself to the deep fried kebabs that are found in many fast food joints especially in the down town area or the city estates. They are made using either minced beef or goat meat. The choice of extra filling is varied but majority of them use vegetables (like cabbage) and bread crumbs to bulk them up. The spices and herbs can also range from very simple to being quite expansive.
My kebabs are quite simple in terms of flavour because I have used very few spices. I love having the beef flavour shining through. Another thing I should point out is that I like cooking off my onions, garlic, ginger and curry powder before adding them to the mince meat. I find that this brings out a better taste than adding them directly while raw to the mince meat.
Jikoni Magic’s tips for Successful Kenyan Kebabs:
- If you do not want to bulk up your kebabs with bread crumbs and vegetables use mince meat that is finely minced. Most Kenyan butcheries mince their meat very coarsely, if possible request them to mince it again a second or third round. This will ensure that the mince meat binds together through out the cooking process without falling apart.
- If you want to have a fluffier egg coating on top of your kebabs then you have to do more than one round of coating.
- The oil should be heated on medium heat to prevent the egg coating from burning to a bitter crisp too fast (if oil is too hot) or becoming an oily, soggy mess (if oil is too cool).
- If you prefer kebabs that are wider than an average sausage it would be advisable to deep fry them first and then finish them off in the oven. This will ensure that they are cooked through to the middle.
- A combination of 80% lean beef and 20% fat is ideal because it will ensure that the kebabs remain moist without drying out.
Now that we have that all explained let us look at the ingredients and the steps involved in making these Kenyan style kebabs that are as good if not better than the fast food restaurant kind.
- 350g mince beef
- 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2″ ginger minced
- 1 Tbs curry powder
- Bunch of dhania (coriander) leaves
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- 2 eggs
- 5 Tbs plain flour
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
- Enough oil to deep fry
- Heat 1 Tbs of oil in a sufuria and when it comes to temperature add the onions and cook until translucent, do not let them acquire any colour.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute until they release their fragrance.
- Add the curry powder and cook for about a minute to get rid of the raw taste and smell of it and turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool completely.
- Pour the cooked mixture into the mince meat together with with the black pepper, salt to taste and bunch of coriander leaves. Mix everything using your hands to ensure even distribution of ingredients through out the kebabs.
- Divide into 4 equal portions and begin by forming balls followed by rolling them into sausage like shapes (5″ long and 2″ thick).
- Beat the two eggs lightly.
- Coat the kebabs lightly with the plain flour before dipping them in the beaten eggs.
- Deep fry the kebabs for just a minute to allow the egg coating to harden and adhere to the surface of the kebab.
- Remove the kebabs from the oil and drain on kitchen paper before coating them a second time in the beaten eggs.
- Repeat the process of cooking the kebabs for a minute and if not satisfied with the fluffiness of the egg coating dip them again in the eggs and coat for a third time.
- After the third coating cook the kebabs for three minutes for them to be well done.
- Serve immediately while hot with your favourite accompaniment.