Adapted from Persian Food from the Non-persian Bride, by Reyna Simnegar
What does a “regular” American mother send in a lunchbox to school? Maybe a peanut butter sandwich? Perhaps a tuna sandwich? Well, guess what my mother-in-law sent inside my husband’s lunchbox? Chelo Kebab! (rice with kebab). When I learned about this I thought to myself… “How cruel! Was it not enough that the poor kid could not speak a word of English? Did she have to also humiliate him in front of the other kids with this crazy ‘fresh-off-the-boat’ concoction?” Well, after thoroughly investigating the matter, my husband confessed to having been a victim of constant threats at school. That is, constant threats from kids trying to convince him to switch his lunch with them…. I guess what I thought was child abuse ended up being what every kid in the school wanted! Today my kids eat kebabies galore and I have to beg them to use forks and leave a few behind for Baba (Dad, in Farsi)! You can also make kebab with ground turkey…much better for your health! Kebabs are served over chelo (Persian white rice) sprinkled with sumac powder, along with grilled tomatoes, onions, pickles, and Salad Shirazy!
2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, pressed or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon ground saffron
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sumac (optional)l
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes or 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oill
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm waterl
Pinch of salt
In a large bowl, combine all meat mixture ingredients.
In a second bowl, combine all basting ingredients.
At this point you have 2 choices.
Choice #1: You can grill the kebab, shaping it onto 1/2-inch wide flat metal cooking skewers or by shaping them like Israeli kebabs (flattened ellipses) and placing them directly on the grill.
Choice #2: You can broil the meat in the oven in the shape of flattened ellipses or by pressing the meat into a lasagna pan and cutting it into strips before broiling it.
Directions for Choice #1:
Make balls of meat the size of an orange. Pierce the meat with the skewer and shape firmly around the metal, flattening it to resemble a large flat sausage.
Place 3–inches from flame and grill for about 5 minutes per side, turning constantly to prevent the meat from falling into the flames. When ready, remove from the skewers with a piece of flatbread or a wrap. Baste with basting sauce and serve the meat immediately with white Persian rice (Chelo).
If you don’t have flat metal skewers, you can also shape the meat into flattened torpedoes and cook right over the grill grid for about 5 minutes per side. If you use an instant-read thermometer to check doneness, the temperature should read 140°F. Remove from the grill, baste with basting sauce, and serve immediately.
Directions for Choice #2:
Preheat oven to broil. Spray canola oil over a baking sheet if you want to shape the meat like flattened torpedoes or spray a 9″x13″ lasagna pan if you want to cut it into strips.
Wet your hands and shape meat torpedoes. Make the ellipses about 2″x4″x1″ each; these will shrink dramatically as you broil them. Place the torpedoes side by side on the baking sheet or press all the meat into the 9″x13″ pan and, using a sharp knife, cut the meat into 1½-inch strips. This last method resembles the authentic Kebab and, once the meat has cooked, it will be easy to separate the strips from one another.
Broil close to the heat source for 7 minutes or until the meat has nicely browned. Take the baking sheet out, turn the kebabs over and continue cooking for 8-10 more minutes, farthest from the heat. If you used the 9″x13″ pan, you do not have to turn the kebabs over. If you use an instant-read thermometer, the meat will be done at 140°F.
Baste with basting sauce and serve immediately with over white Persian rice (Chelo).
Yield: 11 Kebabs
You are what you eat:
Sumac is probably the most exotic and interesting spice I have ever encountered. It originates from Turkey; some varieties are from Italy. The shrub’s petals and berries are dried up and ground into a purple burgundy powder with a strong acid taste. When mixed with water it can be used for the same purposes as lime juice, but will tint everything, including your teeth, purple!
Tricks of the trade:
If using metal skewers, make sure they are dry and cold before pressing meat onto them. Do not use dirty skewers. I like using metal skewers with wooden handles because the metal gets very hot. Do not oil the metal skewers, as this will prevent the meat from attaching. Also, keep your hands wet when handling ground beef and it will not stick to your hands
Recipes: Meat, Ground Beef or Turkey, Kebabs, Persian, Kosher
Turkish pit masters devised an ingenious “divide and conquer” approach to shish kebabs: They grill the meat and vegetables separately to allow foods with different cooking times to reach the perfect degree of doneness.
Plus: More Grilling Recipes and Tips
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 small bunch of fresh mint
- 1 large red onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
- Vegetable oil, for the grill
- Garlicky Tahini
- Lemon wedges and pita bread, for serving
- In a large bowl, combine the garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried mint and oregano. Add the lamb, toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 3 hours.
- Thread the lamb onto skewers, placing 1 fresh mint leaf between the pieces of meat. Skewer alternate pieces of onion and bell pepper and brush lightly with olive oil.
- Light a grill. Lightly brush the grate with vegetable oil and grill the lamb and vegetables over a medium-hot fire, turning frequently, until the lamb is medium, about 6 minutes, and the vegetables are tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Let the kebabs stand for 2 minutes, then serve with the Garlicky Tahini, lemon wedges and pita bread.
The berrylike fruit of a young, robust Zinfandel has an affinity with grilled lamb, especially when the dish includes pungent garlic and herbs.
- SERVINGS: Makes about 1 cup
Cooks throughout the Middle and Near East serve this creamy, garlicky condiment as a sauce for grilled lamb. It is also wonderful with chicken or swordfish.
- 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a blender, puree the garlic with the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, water, salt and pepper until smooth. If the sauce appears thick, add a little more water. Scrape the sauce into a bowl, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
“This is my version of Turkish kebabs which I made ‘off the cuff’ after searching unsuccessfully for a recipe online. The original sandwiches are made from meat that is pressed into a loaf and grilled on a rotating spit. The meat is shaved off as it gets crispy and then put into a pita sandwich. My recipe calls for thin slices of meat to be marinated and then broiled to get the same effect without a huge rotating grill. Serve in a warmed pita with goat cheese, tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pepperoncinis.”
1 Day 50 Min
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Original Recipe Yield 6 kebabs
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 pinch curry powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound beef flank steak, thinly sliced
- Tzatziki Sauce:
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 6 pita bread rounds
- Place the chopped onions in a large ceramic bowl and crush with the bottom of a glass until juice is rendered and onions look translucent. Stir in 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, oregano, 1 teaspoon black pepper, turmeric, curry powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well; add the sliced beef and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- Combine the sour cream, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, dill, and 1 crushed clove of garlic. Mix well; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven’s broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source.
- Remove the meat from the marinade mixture, brushing off extra onions. Spread the slices on a baking sheet without overlapping, and salt to taste. Broil about 3 minutes per side or until browned and crispy, turning halfway through cooking.
- Divide the cooked meat between the pita breads, and drizzle with tzatziki sauce to serve.
Amount Per Serving Calories: 512 | Total Fat: 34.3g | Cholesterol: 33mg