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The wonders of the ubiquitous kebab

15 December 2008

Last month, we hosted a Kebab Night. It was so well-received, we thought we would write an entry that includes some info from the research that we conducted in preparation for it. At the bottom of the post is the menu of kebabs that we served on the evening.

The kebab, AKA kabob, kibob, kebhav, and kephav. World famous. The term refers to a variety of meat dishes found in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African, Central Asian and South Asian cuisine, almost always consisting of a grilled meats served on a stick. Simple and fantastic. Generally, kebabs include lamb or beef, though others make use of goat, chicken, fish and shellfish. Due to the origins of many kebab recipes in predominantly Muslim or Jewish regions, pork kebabs are not commonplace, though they can be found, for example, throughout India.

The simplicity of roasting meat on sticks over an open fire has resulted in worldwide variations on the same basic idea, and this method of cooking most probably became vastly popular around the globe due to the relatively small amount of cooking time, preparation and energy such as fuel or oil - cubes of meat cook quickly over a small flame. Much literature points to Turkish soldiers roasting meats on their swords as the birth of the kebab, though evidence shows shish kebab being cooked in Greece as early as the 8th century BC.

What many North Americans refer to as kebab is actually shish kebab - its translation in Turkish is “skewered grill-meat - and generally consists of lamb or beef, tomatoes, capsicum and onions threaded onto a skewer, though other common vegetables include eggplant, mushrooms and pickles. Variations on the shish kebab include the Greek souvlaki, the Russian shashlik, the French brochette, the Spanish pinchito, the Southeast Asian satay, the India kathi, and the Brazilian espetinho.

And what it is commonly known in the UK and Australia as kebab is actually döner kebab - its translation in Turkish is “rotating grill-meat” - and with variations in the Greek gyro and the Middle Eastern shawarma. Döner kebab is most popularly served in pita bread with salad. Other popular kebab include the chelow kebab - meat served with saffron rice - which is the national dish of Iran, the shami lamb kebab from India, and the adana kebab, which is minced lamb served on pita with onions. Today, though, we’ll be serving you worldwide variations on the shish kebab with some wonderful accompaniments.

Pork French Brochette With Baguette
Pork Spanish Pinchitos
Mediterranean Beef Kofta With Tzatziki And Pita Bread
Indonesian Chicken Sate With Peanut Sauce And Raw Onions And Cucumbers
Indian Chicken Tikka With Mint Yoghurt And Onions In Vinegar
Turkish Beef Shish Kebab With Yoghurt And Pita Bread
Vegetable Kebab
Fruit Kebab



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