Kebab Hindi is an authentic Syrian family dinner enjoyed for centuries by Middle Eastern families! Mini lamb meatballs are cooked in a sweet tomato sauce with carrots and potatoes, then served over yellow Saffron rice. This is the best traditional meal you'll ever have! It's a hearty family-friendly dinner that feeds large crowds and is perfect for holidays!
What is Syrian Kebab Hindi?
This authentic Kebab Hindi recipe is one of my favorite family Syrian meals. Lamb meatballs, tiny diced potatoes, and chopped carrots are simmered in a tomato and Middle Eastern pomegranate molasses sauce. Then the meatballs, vegetables, and sauce is poured over basmati rice that has been colored with a pinch of saffron.
The lamb meatballs are simple, yet incredibly delicious. Ground lamb is mixed with allspice, pine nuts, and salt.
My little Syrian grandmother has finally taught me how to make many of her best, favorite traditional Middle Eastern meals. Some of our favorites our stuffed cabbage, stuffed grape leaves, and stuffed peppers (lots of stuffed dinners!). I cannot wait to share them with you in the coming months!
My grandmother has spent her entire life perfecting these dishes. Nothing beats the aroma of allspice that fills the house as they are cooking.
This Kebab Hindi (or kebab hindee) is her secret recipe. She has attempted to "teach us" over the years, but she is an amazing cook and never measures or writes down her recipes.
It's a much anticipated Christmas Eve tradition that we all can't get enough of. We save this meal especially for holidays and family barbecues. It's often complimented by Syrian potato salad with lemon and mint as an appetizer.
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make kebab hindi you need:
- white rice
- saffron (just for color)
- tomato sauce
- pomegranate molasses
- fresh lemon
- lamb meatballs: ground lamb, allspice, pine nuts, salt
Basmati rice is preferred but you can use another variety of white rice. Basmati is an aromatic long grain rice with a soft and fluffy texture when cooked.
You'll also need a pinch of saffron to color the rice yellow. Make sure to use just a pinch! Saffron will quickly turn this perfect meal into a spicy dish if you use more than you need to give the basmati rice a beautiful yellow color. I dip 2 fingers in the saffron and rub them over the boiling water.
Carrots and potatoes are the veggies we use here. My grandmother also adds peas, but we are not a pea-loving household so we skip them. If you add peas, ½ of a 15 ounce can should be enough.
Pomegranate molasses is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. It's added to sauces as a mild sweetener and thickener. It's totally easy to make and lasts indefinitely. Pomegranate molasses enhances the sauce to a whole new level and is a very important ingredient here.
The pine nuts used in kebab hindi lamb meatballs are optional. I enjoy the added flavor and texture, so I use them when I have them. Pine nuts can be quite pricey. Buying them bulk is usually much less expensive. If you don't use them often, they can be kept in the freezer. They last there for a very long time.
Syrian dishes are known for using lamb rather than beef. Since lamb can be difficult to find, you can substitute it with beef. I've replaced lamb with beef in other Syrian recipes, and the difference isn't that noticeable.
But I prefer lamb because it melds well with the allspice and is more moist than beef. Plus, I have been eating kebab hindi for decades, so I prefer to make it with all of the traditional ingredients!
The first step to making kebab hindi is to prepare your vegetables and rice.
Start with making the rice since you'll need to wait for the rice to boil. Follow the directions on the package. When adding the rice to the boiling water, add a dash of saffron to give it a brilliant yellow hue. But only add a pinch, otherwise it will turn spicy.
While waiting for the rice water to boil, peel and dice the carrots and potatoes. I chop them into very small pieces to shorten the cooking time.
Next make the kebab hindi sauce. Bring the tomato sauce, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, salt and water to a boil. Add the carrots and potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
While the veggies simmer in the sauce, combine the meatball ingredients and roll into mini lamb meatballs.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for another 25 minutes. Gently shake the pot every so often so the meatballs sink to the bottom and the veggies don't stick. Some of the pine nuts may fall out of the meatballs at this point. Don't worry about that!
Remove the pot of sauce, meatballs, and veggies from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Drain the rice and set it aside.
When the sauce is done resting, put together the full kebab hindi meal by topping the rice with sauce, meatballs, and veggies.
Then relax and enjoy this traditional and delicious Syrian kebabi hindi!
Kebab Hindi: Syrian Lamb Meatballs, Vegetables, and Saffron Rice
- 2 cups basmati rice
- pinch of saffron (optional for color)
- 1 ½ cups diced carrots
- 1 ½ cups peeled and diced potatoes
For the Sauce
- 1 can tomato sauce (29 ounces)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground lamb
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cook the rice according to the package, adding a pinch of saffron to the boiling water for color.
- Bring the tomato sauce, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and salt to a simmer. Add the carrots and potatoes. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce simmers, combine meatball ingredients and roll into mini meatballs. Add water generously so that meatballs are not sticky.
- Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 25 minutes. Shake pot gently occasionally so meatballs and vegetables do not stick to the bottom.
- Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Serve meatballs, vegetables, and sauce over rice.
Serving and Storing
Kebab hindi keeps for about 1 week in the fridge, but the veggies, sauce, and lamb meatballs freeze exceptionally well for at least 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
That’s all you need to know about this fantastic Syrian Kebab Hindi recipe! If you’ve made it, let me know what you thought in the comments below.