Indian-Spiced Lamb Skewers

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Adapted from The River Cottage Meat Book (Ten Speed Press, 2007)

The recipe for these deeply flavorful shish kebabs comes from the 2008 James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year, The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Ten Speed, 2007), which also took top honors in our Single Subject category. The name says it all—vegetarians beware. Marinated skewers of meat are a perfect entrée for a picnic or cookout. The same seasonings and technique work for lamb chops, or you can mix the spices into ground meat for piquant burgers. Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests serving these skewers with “plain rice or naan bread, a good fruity chutney, and a cooling raita made by mixing plain yogurt with a little crushed garlic, diced cucumber, salt, and pepper,” but we thought a light tabbouleh was a perfect partner for a summer picnic.


  • 2 pounds boned-out shoulder or leg of lamb or mutton, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 to 4 small dried red chilies (depending on size and heat)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red peppercorns (if available)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped


Split the chilies open and remove and discard the seeds. Place chilies in a mortar and pestle with the other dry spices and pound to a coarse powder.

Put the lamb in a bowl and mix with the oil and garlic, massaging it well so it is covered with a light film of oil. Toss thoroughly with the pounded spices and then leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Thread the meat onto six long skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes first, if wooden. Lay them over a hot barbecue (or, indoors, grill on a ridged pan). Turn after a couple of minutes, then continue to turn regularly, seasoning with the odd sprinkling of salt. They’ll take about 6 to 8 minutes to be cooked right through, but you can serve them a little pinker if you like.


6 servings