Lamb Patties from Lenkeran (Shami)

I disappeared again.  You must be used to this terrible behavior of mine. Please forgive me. I was around fighting this crazy cold I got from who knows where which I finally defeated. Thank you for all your emails asking me about my whereabouts. I really appreciate it. You guys are great!

I can’t wait to share one special recipe with you today. Shami is the name of the great dish and it hails from one of the best culinary destinations in Azerbaijan, the region of Lenkeran in the southeast. Lenkeran is home to the best chay (black tea) that comes from vast tea plantations tucked along the region, exotic delicacies loved in every corner of Azerbaijan, hospitable and friendly people, and many more. The recipe was given to me by my buddy Sevda, one of the sweetest Lenkeranis I’ve met.

So, what is shami and what is so special about it. Shami is a lamb patty. But not your regular lamb patty made of ground raw meat. Shami is a patty made of cooked ground lamb and this is how the process goes. First, the lamb is boiled in water along with whole onions until tender. Then the meat is ground together with the onions, the eggs is added, the ingredients are blended together and the mixture is shaped into patties. The patties are then fried on both sides until golden.  Boiling the lamb in the first stage removes its  heavy taste and smell as well as mellows its taste. Precooking the lamb also allows for short frying times in the second stage and the patties do not absorb as much oil as their counterparts made of raw meat. Shami has a beautiful golden crust on the outside and is super soft and flavorful inside. It is absolutely delicious. Next time, I am going to try making shami with beef. If you try it before me, please let me know how it turns out. Nush Olsun!

Lamb Patties from Lenkeran (Shami)
Makes 18-20 patties

2 pounds (1 kg) boneless lamb with no fat, cut into medium size pieces
2 medium onions, peeled
2 eggs
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup vegetable oil, for frying

Put the meat and peeled whole onions in a medium saucepan. Fill the pan with enough water to cover the ingredients completely. Add a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and cook, maintaining a gentle boil, for about 30 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. It should be tender and should not be pink inside). Strain on a fine-mesh sieve (reserve the strained broth for other uses, such as for dushbere).

Pass the meat and the onions together through a meat grinder (the traditional way). Or, grind in a food processor. Put the mixture in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Knead thoroughly with your hand until well blended.

Shape the mixture into 18-20 oval or round patties (I made round),  about 3/8-inch (0.9 cm) thick (you can make them thicker if you want to. They should be somewhat “chubby” and not too thin).

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan. Brown the patties on one side, for 3-5 minutes, then turn to cook the other side. Do not turn until one side is ready. These patties are fragile and may easily break if you keep turning them.  Remove from the heat and serve immediately with rice pilaf or bread (traditionally shami is served as an accompaniment to rice, but I like it with bread too).


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  1. Farida,
    What an interesting way to cook lamb patties. I have not been aware of this method of preparation. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Farida
    I had almost given up on you! Glad to have you back in the world of obsessive bloggers (are they obsessive or is it just me?)
    I like this recipe a lot. I like the photo even more.

  3. Farida,
    I love those patties, I will definitely try them soon! Thanks for sharing 🙂 and glad u’re feeling better!

  4. I hope that you are feeling better!

    Those patties look lovely!



  5. These patties look delicious. I will definitely be trying them.
    In Hyderabad-India, Shaami is a also a lamb patty, cooked along with pulses+onions+spices, then ground and shaped into patties and shallow fried. I am so happy to see the similarity here. You can have a look at our version on my blog.

  6. lovely patties, perfectly shaped and fried.

  7. Oh my god. Shami kebabs are big part of North Indian Muslim cuisine! But we also add a few fistfuls of split chickpeas to make them melt in your mouth.

  8. Farida, good to hear from you , hope you are doing much better now. Patties look great – yum! I will definitely try them w/beef today – the lamb I have is too bony, I am keeping it for borsh 🙂

  9. Thank you, friends, for your comments.

    Mona and Aisha – isn’t it great discovering similarities between the foods from different countries? This is why I love blogging. I learn so many new things from others. Perhaps this dish has the same roots. I yet have to do research on it:)

  10. Nice to see you! Especially with this delicious recipe! I am glad to hear you are feeling better!

  11. Very interesting recipe.
    It open my mind, that there is soooo many delicious and yummy food around the globe. 🙂

  12. Hi Farida! It so nice you are back. All my coworkers and I were looking forward to hear from you.Thank you for lovely recepe. I will try it .

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  14. My 10 year old son (whom I was blessed to adopt from Azerbaijan) has been asking for me to make him an Azerbaijani lamb dish, so I am including these on our Thanksgiving Day Menu this year. Can’t wait to try them! 🙂

  15. First time here about this meal. Looks yummy! Is it possible to do it from already grinded meat? Boil minced mead ?

  16. GULSHAN – I don’t think it will give the same result. I would go with the original recipe.

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