lentil and pumpkin shami kebab


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

shami kebab

Yup, another pumpkin related post this week! This one is all about vegetarian kebabs without the need for outdoor grilling which makes it fantastic if it is getting chilly outdoors. Lighter, warmer, and fun and of course orange, these are literally the components of the theme of this recipe. 
lentilles du puy
There are probably a zillion different types of kebabs that you can find in almost every city of India. Skewers are adorned with delicious cuts and flavors of all sorts of meat and others like these shami kebabs than are seasoned  and then pan fried to crispy perfection. Traditionally, you would make these kebabs with ground meat (lamb, beef, or even poultry) but off late, I’ve been hankering a craving for something a little more festive surrounding fall flavors with a lighter flair. So out went the meat while in walked the lentilles du puy and raw freshly grated pumpkin and a crispy spicy kebab was born on a hot cast iron pan in my kitchen.

(Just in case the heightened level of my excitement doesn’t come through, I am REALLY HAPPY with the way the kebab held its texture and shape during and after cooking and best of all they even after refrigeration. Just the right texture and just the right amount of moisture). 

vegetarian shami kebab
This pickled red onion relish is delicious but more importantly it is quick and easy to make. A 15 minute onion pickle that is loaded with sour and very mild notes of  sweetness goes great with these vegetarian kebabs. Slice, shake, sit and eat, that pretty much sums up all the effort you need here. 
kebab making
I’ll give you a fair warning here, these kebabs are hot, if you like them hotter add more chili, if you don’t cut back. The number of spices on the ingredient list make it look lengthy and daunting but believe it really is worth using fresh whole spices and then grinding them down to give the vegetable kebabs a richer flavor.
Tip: I normally adjust the amount of salt and pepper based on taste test after I fry one kebab. If I feel the salt is too little, I will add a little more. If it is too much, then add a little bit of bread crumbs. It is better to start with a lower amount of salt and then adjust the seasoning.
shami kebab2
lentil and pumpkin shami kebabs

yields: 12-14 kebabs


1 cup lentilles du puy
3 cups grated pumpkin, raw (sugar pie pumpkin)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon chick pea flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea-salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1 teaspoon red chili flakes, freshly ground  
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon mace, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin,
2 cloves
zest of one lime, fresh
1 green cardamom pod, seeds removed (discard the green shell)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, freshly chopped

1 green thai chili pepper

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs will work too)
olive oil for frying

1. Clean the lentils for any stones, wash and soak them in cold water overnight. The next day, drain the water, add 2 cups of water and bring the contents to a boil on a medium high flame in a thick bottom stock pot. Then reduce the flame to low and cook the lentils for 45 minutes until tender. Using a sieve, drain the liquid from the lentils and place the lentils on a clean towel to absorb any excess liquid.
2. In a coffee grinder or spice grinder, grind all the spices from the coriander to the cardamom seeds and keep aside.
3. In a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil. Add the lentils to this mix and pulse for 5 seconds 5 times to get a coarse mixture. The texture crumbly and not smooth. Transfer the contents to a bowl and using your hands mix the ingredients (this ensures that everything is blended and seasoned uniformly). With the palms of your hands, mold the kebabs into little flattened discs that are about 1 inch in diameter. You should get approximately 12-14 kebabs. 
3. Heat a little oil in a cast iron skillet on a medium-high flame (I normally use about 2 tablespoon for every 6 kebabs). Fry 6 kebabs at a time for about 4 minutes on each side, until each kebab is golden brown (the internal temperature should reach 130F). Place the kebabs on a clean paper towel to drain any excess oil and serve hot with rice or flat bread (like naan or roti) and plain yogurt. 

quick pickled red onion relish

servings: 2-4 people


1 large red onion
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 green thai chili pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, finely chopped
a pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar

1. Peel the onion, cut into half and then thinly slice each section. 
2. In a clean jar, mix all the ingredients together.  Cover the jar tightly with a lid and shake it a few times. Leave for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. You can adjust the amount of salt and sugar as needed but I prefer to have this more sour and less salty and sweet. 

51 Responses

  1. aaaaaaaa.. thats me singing!! Because its a vegetarian recipe so I can try it. Last week I tried "baking" falafels – and I was aiming for the shape you have here. My attempt was a dud – and the answer might be to pan fry vs deep fry. I always have a ton of puy lentils on hand, so I just might make these. Heat levels are going up!

  2. Oh, Nik…fabulous job! I adore sweet and sour. Your red onion relish accompaniment seems so spot on for this autumn dish with pumpkin and lentils. Such a wonderful vegetarian recipe and gorgeous styling and photography. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Wow I loveeee how these kebabs look! I'm a big kebab fan and these are certainly the ones that I'm going to be making soon! 🙂

  4. Delicious Nick addition of lentil and pumpkin is wonderful in kebab. As both are excellent combo for making curry. Love those onion relish, especially good with biriyani.

  5. What a fun recipe to try! I bet my husband will enjoy your veg kebabs, these are the flavors he enjoys. I would serve them with a green salad at the side or maybe some mash potato would go well too. What do you think?

  6. I love the combo of legume and squash…I have tried it in bread and it has turned out great too. Love those delicious patties.

  7. so creative, only you would come up with this.. saw this on Instagram… very nice work. This is one of those recipes they would have at a fancy/fusion Indian restaurant.

  8. Utterly delicious healthy vegetarian kebab. Love the use of lentils in it. Would be a great school lunch too. As usual some great food styling.

  9. On ly 15 minutes to make that onion relish? I'm in! The lentil kebabs look terrific – very creative recipe. Good stuff – thanks.

  10. I love using pumpkin as a base for many recipes including sweet ones. It forms such a good starchy base to build on.

  11. These kebabs are beautiful! I love using pumpkin in both sweet and savory applications…it is so versatile! These kebabs sound so full of delicious spice and flavor.

  12. I love this meatless twist on kebabs – that flavor combination sounds wonderful and SO perfect for fall!

  13. So yummy Nik. My mom used to make loads of veggie kababs using rajma & chickpeas.Pumpkin sounds so yummy here. Gorgeous Pictures!

  14. These vegetarian kebabs with the seasonal pumpkin look delicious, Nik! I wish I have your food styling/photography talent. Love this post!

  15. I just doscovered your blog via Gojee on the pumpkin naan post from last year. Love it! The photography is fabulous and I love your innovative creations!

    Just wanted to comment that I was thrilled to see fenugreek included in this recipe, good for us nursing mamas!

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