This is a recipe for the best MELT in your Mouth beef kababs that are NOT made on skewers, but instead in a pot! Made in a North Indian or Pakistani style, this is a no fuss, easy to follow recipe, tested to made fool proof!
What are handi kabab?
So handi kababs are basically the gravy version of their BBQ counter part known as “Bihari boti” or “Bihari kababs”, popular in Pakistan and North India. Obviously the name itself is a giveaway as to the origins of the dish, i.e. Bihar. The marinade, beef cut and spices are very similar to what is used in Bihari kebabs, with one plot twist. These kababs are made in a pot rather than a skewer and have a little gravy or “masala” in it to make it resemble a dry curry.
Also bonus: You can make these without firing up a grill or spending time threading the kebabs onto a skewer. ANDDD a beginner level cook will be able to pull this off with EASE! ‘nuf said, lets dive right in!
Notes on Ingredients
This recipe uses common ingredients used regularly in Indian/Pakistani cooking
- Spices and table salt – There aren’t fancy spices involved and shouldn’t be hard to find in any spice isle.
- Garlic ginger paste – You can make your own by using a food processor or buy ready to use garlic ginger paste.
- Raw Papaya paste – Raw papaya paste is a strong natural meat tenderizer (more deets below)
- Yogurt – This recipe heavily relies on yogurt to provide a mild tart flavor that these kebabs have
- Oil – I’ve used regular cooking oil, you can use ghee or butter too.
- Fried onions – Fried onions add mild sweetness to the flavor and add bulk to the dry “curry” that is going to be created. You can use pre-fried brown onions available in Indian stores or fry them yourself. Here’s a guide to fry onions perfectly.
- Beef Cut – If you have access to an Indian/Pakistani meat store, you can easily ask for undercut beef cut in small cubes or boneless beef. You can also get a steak and cut it up. So topside, sirloin steak, eye fillet or tenderloin should work just fine.
- Coal – I use a piece of small charcoal to give this dish a smoky flavor that it deserves! You can also use 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke available in bottles which are a “smoke essence”
Raw Papaya Paste
Raw papaya paste is a strong natural meat tenderizer which gives meat its melt in mouth texture synonymous with Bihari boti and Bihari kebabs. You can buy raw papaya paste in jars available in Asian stores or Indian/Pakistani store, Or make your own.
To make your own papaya paste, simply wash raw papaya and cut it into small pieces. Only remove the seeds from the core and leave the skin intact. Put it in a blender with some water to get paste! And that’s it
Raw Papaya Substitutes
- You can use meat tenderizer about 2 tsp only. Remember meat tenderize has a taste of its own and overdoing it can give your kababs a funky taste
- Another natural meat tenderizer is kiwi. You can use kiwi paste to get the same effect as raw papaya. Just add an additional tablespoon of vinegar to counter the sweetness of kiwi
- Pineapple paste made from fresh pineapple contains an enzyme which is also a strong meat tenderizer. It’s half as strong as papaya paste. But pineapple has a strong sweet taste of its own so I won’t suggest using a lot of pineapple paste. Just increase marination time to 2 days with pineapple paste rather than using a lot of quantity.
How to make Beef Handi Kabab
You will see that the preparation time for this recipe is hardly 15 to 20 mins and the bulk of it is just passive cooking time.
You simply need to marinate beef in all your spices and keep it in the fridge overnight. That is literally all the prep you need to do for these kebabs! Marinate!
NOTE: Take out beef 1 hr before you are ready to cook to allow it to come down to room temperature.
Transfer your marinated beef into a heavy bottom pot. These kebabs are slow cooked. Simply let them simmer at low flame to allow all the water from yogurt to be released and eventually dry up. You know your dish is ready when you see oil separating on the side.
Smoking the kebabs
I give coal smoke to the beef to give it that authentic BBQ feel. You can give the smoke at 2 possible stages.
#1 – You can smoke it after your overnight marination, while your kebabs are still raw.
#2 – You can smoke it after your kebabs are ready and after you’ve turned off the flame.
Heat a piece of coal on the stove and use a tong to transfer it into your kebabs. Place it on top of a aluminum cupcake liner, aluminum foil or a piece of bread. And drizzle some oil over it. Cover your pot immediately and let it sit in smoke for 10 mins. Viola!
For liquid smoke, simply add it towards the end of your cooking. Be careful! Its extremely strong so use a very small quantity like 1/4 tsp at first to see if you want more.
Serving the Handi kababs
The garnish for dish is lemon slices and sliced onions. These kababs are best eaten with parathas, green chutney on the side. If you are feeling fancy, you can also add a complimentary potato curry (aloo tarkari) on the side. They also taste ammmmmazing with dal chawal (steamed rice and lentils)
What do you serve Handi kabab with?
These kebabs are traditionally served with sliced raw onions and lemon on top. They are eaten with parathas, rotis, flatbreads and raita or chutney on the side. They are also eaten with lentils and steamed rice (dal chawal)
Which pot should I use to make the handi kebab?
You can use any heavy bottom pan or a Dutch oven for this recipe. If you don’t have both, just use a heat insulator below your regular pot. A heat insulator can be a “tava”, a flat pan or a griddle.
Can I make this recipe with chicken or mutton?
Absolutely! For mutton, you will follow the same steps as mentioned in the recipe. For chicken, reduce the quantity of papaya by half and only marinate 1 to 2 hrs before cooking, not overnight.
Can I freeze the marinated kababs?
You can freeze the kababs only if you haven’t added papaya. Once papaya is added, its best to cook kababs, before freezing.
How long can the kababs be frozen for?
If your freezer temperature doesn’t fluctuate much, your kababs can easily stay frozen for upto 3 months
What can I do with left over kababs?
Oh so many things! You can make desi style paratha rolls with kebabs, onions and chutney. You can shred it and use in sandwiches.
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- 1 kg boneless beef cut in 1/2 inch cubes see notes
- 1 tbsp. garlic ginger paste
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup oil
- 220 gm onion raw or 70 gm golden fried about 2 medium onions
- 1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp roasted and crushed cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder all spice
- 1/2 cup papaya paste
- 1 cup yogurt beaten
- 1 inch piece coal for smoke
- Lemon slices and onion slices for garnish
- Add the beef in a bowl and add all the spices and ingredients in the beef.
- Marinade the beef well with all the ingredients and cover the bowl. Leave in the fridge overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the beef, remove it from the fridge and let it sit in the kitchen for about 2 hours before starting cooking.
- You can also smoke the beef at this point by adding a foil cupcake case in the beef, and adding hot coal in the foil. Drop a tablespoon of oil and cover the beef for 10 mins.
- Remove the coal setup and transfer the beef into a pot or a handi. Let it cook at very low flame for 30 to 40 mins.
- When you see oil separating on the sides of the pot, its ready.
- Serve with raita and paratha, or rice and lentils.