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Ramadan Recipe Series part 2 – Veggie Spinach kebabs a.k.a. Hara Bhara kebabs

August 25, 2010

After some sinful fried food last week, that I am proud to say motivated a fellow blogger, Kulsum of Journey Kitchen to make these, this week’s Ramadan recipe is vegetarian, not deep-fried, and very heart healthy. Hara Bhara Kebabs are the Hindi name for these yummy fast-breaking morsels of deliciousness, and the name literally means – Green Kebabs.

Hara Bhara kebabs

Hara Bhara kebabs served here with some Chipotle Honey sauce. Because I'm fun like that 🙂

You can’t go wrong with spinach and cilantro, mashed with a few potatoes, seasoned with the subtle flavors of cumin and curry leaves, molded into kebabs and then toasted in minimal oil. I made these Veggie Spinach kebabs when my sister recently invited me for a Ramadan iftaar party. As we were meeting each other and few other close friends after a long time, we decided to make it a full-on Bohra (the Muslim sub-community I am part of) style dinner. Our friend got the thaal (an elevated plate that 7-8 people sit around and eat from), I made the kebabs and my generous sister made the main course that included an assortment of sumptuous dishes that brought back memories of eating in the thaal with our families back home.

A typical Bohra thaal

A typical Bohra thaal. Here, iftaar is combined with dinner for a mixture of menu items including dates, figs, vegetable pilaf, chicken curry, naan, kebabs and corn soup.

What I really like about this dish is its simplicity. Ramadan is a time of abstinence, like an extreme version of lent, and spending hours over a complicated dish for fast-breaking is the last thing one needs.

I have a question for you though – what is a good substitute for an egg-wash to make the kebabs truly vegetarian? Thanks in advance for your help!

Get a printable version of this recipe here.

To make about 15-17 kebabs, you will need:

  • 5-6 medium sized yellow potatoes, boiled till soft and peeled
  • 1 large bunch of spinach – around 1lb – blanched and finely chopped or purée-d
  • A handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 thai green chili, minced. Use more if you like a kick to your kebabs
  • 1 tsp Salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 2 curry leaves
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • Seasoned or plain bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil for toasting


  • In a large bowl, place all the ingredients except for the oil, cumin seeds and curry leaves
  • In a small plan, heat the oil and when well heated, put in the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Wait till they pop, turn off heat and add to the mixture in the bowl
  • Mash everything together really well

  • Make into small round patties around 2 inches in diameter
  • Coat each kebab in the egg wash, then cover in bread crumbs. I like to use the seasoned variety. Keep the ready kebabs in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour
  • When it is iftaar time, in a frying pan, heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil till hot. Place a few kebabs and toast on each side till golden – brown. This should not take more than 3 minutes on each side, on medium – high heat
  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. The flavors in these kebabs go with a mango mint chutney, to plain yogurt, to a fancy Chipotle honey sauce

Go make this!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2010 1:41 am

    Hey Sabera! I’m so glad that we are trying to makes things healthier! And if you take the same flavors that so reminds us of everything back home and still make it healthier, it totally makes sense to me!

    Your thaal is making me J!How cool is it to get together with friends for Iftar. I totally love our thaal concept. Its the best way for a family to have dinner together specially when you have a bigger family. It really highlights the togetherness and sharing aspect of eating!

    And I’m not done yet (why do I always have so much to say). I have a friend who is allergic to eggs but she loves Bohra food!So I have often tried substitution. This is what has worked for me:
    1. Mustard. I totally love this because you dip your cutlets in mustard and the bread crumbs coat really well! Though you need to thin it out with little water. I LOVE mustard so I love the little tang that it gives. So this my fav way!

    2. Cornstarch. You form this batter with cornstarch and water (or soda water) and dip you cutlet in it and then the crumbs. I really recommend Panko crumbs. They are light as the air and they give a great crunch!

    3. Milk. Milk depends on how well your mixture holds in first place. It works.

    4. Since its a potato based cutlet Sabera, it could work well without any sticky substitute as well. Like we do Ragda Patties? It won’t be as crunchy ofcourse but it still would be a great as your recipe is awesome!

    THE END. Rest on Twitter Ofcourse!

    • August 25, 2010 4:55 pm

      Hey Kulsum! Thanks so much for the awesome tips. This deserves a blog post in itself 🙂 I’ll try them out for sure. And I must say the mustard sauce idea is quite innovative!

      And yes the thaal brings a family together like nothing else. We take so many things about our culture for granted no? I know me and my parents bonded the way we did only bec. we ate in a thaal when I was growing up.

      Thanks once again for a great comment!

  2. August 28, 2010 6:39 am

    WOW! Everything looks great!

  3. Amishi permalink
    August 8, 2011 10:04 pm

    I know this post is more than a year old. I was going through your blog and enjoying all the wonderful photographs and easy-to-relate-to stories. I am quite allergic to eggs. I don’t use eggs with kebabs or patties. Once I have made flat rounds for the kebabs or patties, I simply coat it in seasoned breadcrumbs or semolina or corn starch. Since the potato patty is moist anyway, the dry things will stick to it. And these things remain as coating even when you shallow fry it. I learned from my sister that boiled potatoes should be absolutely dry and at room temp before mashing. That has worked for me. Hope you have a healthy month of Ramadan!

    • August 14, 2011 10:32 pm

      Thanks so much for the tips, Amishi 🙂 Hope all is well with you.

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