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Garlic Habanero “Umami” Kebabs

A month of prep time and several iterations of meat, fat and spice ratios led to this recipe. One of the distinguishing features of these kebabs is “umami,” a savory taste (often difficult to describe) traditionally emphasized in Japanese dishes. To get umami, I added MSG to the recipe. If you prefer, you can substitute other sources of umami like tomato paste and mushrooms for the MSG.


  • Ground Beef: 80/20 – 2 lbs
  • Ground Beef: 90/10 – 1 lb
  • Onions (finely chopped) – 2
  • Garlic (finely chopped) – 6 cloves
  • Habaneros (finely chopped) – 3
  • Red Chilli powder – 1.5 teaspoons
  • Paprika – 1.5 tablespoons
  • Ground Coriander- 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon – Powdered Cardamon seeds
  • Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Fresh Coriander (finely chopped) – 1/2 bunch
  • Mint (finely chopped) – 5 leaves
  • Butter – 3 tablespoons
  • Oil – 5 tablespoons
  • Umami: 1.5 teaspoons of MSG (or alternatively 2 tablespoons of tomato paste from a tube and 2 packages of mushrooms, finely diced and sauteed)


  1. Mix both types of ground beef together well and season with salt
  2. Stir fry finely chopped onions in oil until light brown
  3. Add the garlic and habaneros and continue frying for 10 mins
  4. Add butter
  5. Add remaining dry ingredients – Red Chilli Powder, Paprika, Ground Coriander, Ground Cardamon seeds, and pepper
  6. Finally, add mint and fresh coriander
  7. After mixing thoroughly let cool for 20 mins
  8. Mix the stir fry with the beef and let marinate for 24 hrs in a refrigerator


Light charcoal. Once it gets hot and ashy, apply skewered meat for approximately 4 mins per side until well browned.


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