Bihari Kabab

When I first tasted these kababs at my in-laws’ place some 23+ years ago, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  They were clearly the tastiest thing I had ever eaten! I had not even heard of this kind of a kabab before I ate them at my in-laws house in Bihar and I am sure that most people who don’t have a Bihari-connection have never heard of these either. But take my word for it, these kababs are absolutely amazing.  Back then, I was told repeatedly that my mother-in-law’s recipe was a tightly held family secret. Unfortunately, I didn’t not manage to get it from her before I moved to the US and left India for good.  Anyway, I did not forget the taste of the dish and after repeated attempts I did manage to replicate the taste (much to the delight of my husband!).  My recipe deviates from the original since my mother in law used to use poppy seeds (known as khus-khus in Hindi/Urdu) and I use almonds instead but the results of both the recipes are quite close in taste.  I often serve these at parties and they are always my most asked-for recipe!


1.    1-1.25 lbs lamb boneless meat cut this thin layers about ½ to 3/4 inches thick (or you can use other red meat such as beef or goat meat )
2.    ½ packet of Shaan Bihari Kabab spice mix (available at all South-Asian stores)
3.    One cup of plain yogurt
4.    The juice of one lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
5.    4 large cloves of garlic
6.    About one inch long and about an inch thick nub of fresh ginger root
7.    1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
8.    15-20 almonds

9.    2 tablespoons of olive oil


1.    Using a spice grinder, grind the coriander seeds and almonds into a rough powder.
2.    Peel the garlic cloves and the ginger root.
3.    Make the marinade by grinding the yogurt, juice of a lemon, garlic cloves and ginger root in a blender into a thick pulpy sauce.
4.    To the blended yogurt mixture, add the Shaan Bihari Kabab spice mix, olive oil, the coriander powder and the ground almonds and stir thoroughly.

5.    Add the meat to this marinade and mix thoroughly.

6.    Refrigerate the marinated meat for about 12-24 hours (depending on when you want to grill the kababs).
7.    An hour before you want to cook the kababs, take the meat out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.
8.    Start a charcoal grill or tandoor and get the coals to a steady high heat.
9.    Skewer the pieces of meat on large metal skewers (not too tightly or the inside of the meat remains raw).

10.    Grill the skewered meat over an open charcoal grill, evenly on both sides for about 7-8 minutes on each side or in a tandoor till the meat looks done (the time depends on the heat generated in the tandoor).
11.    Serve the Bihari Kababs with a squeeze of fresh lemon/lime juice over it and with a side of flat bread (naan or pita bread), some chunky vegetable salad and a mint raita sauce (make the raita by whipping plain yogurt and adding some salt, pepper and some fresh mint to it).

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  1. Permalink Submitted by Poonam Arora on Tue, 01/05/2012 - 01:48

    Giving away all the family secrets? Tut tut!

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Tue, 01/05/2012 - 02:40

      lol – Poonam, what they don’t know, won’t hurt them 🙂 besides, I made up my own recipe – it just tastes as good as their’s!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Tue, 01/05/2012 - 19:36

    do you cut the lamb slices into pieces or keep them whole and accordion them onto the skewer? In the picture the lamb initially looks like it is in slices but then it looks like it is in pieces not he skewer. I’ve never had a bihari kabab alas!

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Wed, 02/05/2012 - 11:09

      Hi Shilpa – I had the butcher cut the lamb in slices (not thin slices) and then skewered them like that – when the lamb is cooked the pieces shrink a bit and get somewhat scrunched up in the shape that they were skewered in. I will make this for you the next time you come over for dinner – they are really good – alas I can’t take credit for inventing them 🙁

  3. Permalink Submitted by Deepthi on Tue, 08/05/2012 - 16:30

    Tried this one was superb. Tried another modification…minced the lamb added almonds crushed and cooked arhat dal as binder with the masala and made Shame kebabs with a bit of rolling in beaten egg:))))))))))))))) thaaaaaaaaanx Shabnam you are a genius….

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Tue, 08/05/2012 - 16:52

      OOOOH!!! That sounds really good Deepthi – I have to try that one out myself! Sounds like you combined my Shaami Kabab recipe with the Bihari Kabab recipe – very innovative indeed 🙂

  4. Permalink Submitted by Deepthi on Fri, 11/05/2012 - 12:54

    Shabnam all who had it just freaked out appreciating it and the best is your recipe and my modification both are elegantly simple just really hugely adore your recipes have been stacking ingredients for making all of them when my son comes from the hostel 🙂

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 11/05/2012 - 23:52

      Thank you Deepthi 🙂 My son will start college in August and the only way I will have of luring him to come visit me every few weeks would be through food…he knows it and I know it!

  5. Permalink Submitted by alka sawhney on Mon, 14/05/2012 - 02:53

    Shabnam-absolutely loved your recipes;i actually was so happy with the results that i made 2 of the dishes-easy butter chicken and bihari kebab;they were both awesome;kids kept coming for more and so did the adults;instructions are so easy to follow;thanks
    do wish u would post more(indian dishes PLEASE)

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Mon, 14/05/2012 - 10:32

      Thanks Alka! I am so happy both your experiments came out well 🙂 I will try to put more Indian recipes up…let me know if you have any particular dishes in mind and I will work on those right away!

  6. Permalink Submitted by alka sawhney on Mon, 14/05/2012 - 21:35

    wow! i have not been given such a nice offer before;i used to think i made good butter chicken till i tried yours!!!my kids have told me that this butter chicken was better than any they have ever eaten;i believe them as the dish is half finished -and i had doubled up the recipe;
    so i am going to try whatever u post on your indian category;i am not keen on non indian as we eat lunch at work everyday;so when i am home i like indian food;
    i would like to try chinese though-you know the indian chinese that u get in delhi

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Tue, 15/05/2012 - 18:11

      WOW!!! That is high praise indeed and totally made my day, Alka!!! My kids too love butter chicken and I made this recipe up (entirely on my own) to win them over! A few years ago we took a friend of my daughter’s to India with us and since it was her first trip to India, she ate butter chicken at EVERY restaurant we went to during the 2 weeks long trip and when she came back to the US, she told me that my butter-chicken was still the best she had ever eaten. I was duly flattered but I thought that it must be because mine was the FIRST butter chicken she had ever eaten and that had set her taste a certain way – but if your kids liked this recipe too, then I guess I should take credit here 🙂 I will post other Indian recipes as I get some new ideas…btw the garlic cauliflower dish that is on the blog is very similar to Indian Chinese food – try that one as well…I still LOVE Indian Chinese food and can eat it every day during my visits back home because I find the north Indian food very heavy and laden with spices, so I prefer Chinese!

  7. Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Wed, 03/10/2012 - 09:05

    Hi Shabnam, Just trying to put together a menu for Diwali dinner. My guest list had burgeoned so would like to have most things done prior. Can I cook this a few hours ahead – say in the arvo – and warm up again in the oven? Thanks.

  8. Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Wed, 03/10/2012 - 09:06

    ooops – sorry about the aus-speak. Arvo is afternoon!!!

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 04/10/2012 - 22:38

      Hi Rupali – Yes, you can make the Bihari Kabab ahead of time and cover them with foil and re-heat in the oven. They do let off some water but by and large they are okay. These are always a great hit at my parties – I often marinade them and grill them when the guests arrive. When is your Diwali party? What are you making? I bet the desserts are going to be out of this world!!!!!

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