Kebabs are cut up or ground meats prepared as part of a stew, baked, or skewered and grilled – the latter of which is the more popular version. This dish finds its origins from medieval Persia and Turkey although it is widespread in the Middle East and nearby regions.
The name “kebab” was more popularized by the Turks which means “frying/burning”. This seared delicacy is usually paired with naan which is a softer, flaky version of pita. It was enjoyed by commoners and also served in the royal houses of the region.
Kebab found its way around the world most probably together with the spread of the Muslim Influence. Local interpretations of the dish were created and are still being enjoyed today like the satays of Southeast Asia, Gyros of Greece, and Manasollasa of India. Local spices were used to flavor the meats and local side dishes were also created to accompany them.
Typically, kebabs are made from meats like beef, chicken, and lamb. Due to the restrictions of the Muslim diet, pork was never used.
Types of Kebabs
Most Persian restaurants offer varieties of kebabs on their menu. But these are staple types of kebabs they serve:
- Kebab Koobideh – ground meat like chicken, beef or lamb mixed with onions, parsley and spices wrapped around a skewer then grilled.
- Kabab-e-barg – marinated fillets of beef tenderloin, chicken, or beef, skewered then grilled. In Iraq, this may be known as “Tikka”.
- Doner Kebab – literally means “rotating kebab” in Turkish. This is made by skewering slices of meat onto a big metal skewer or spit then slowly roasted while it rotates passing by a constant heat source. In some areas, this is also known as “Shawarma”.
Aside from pita, they are also served over or with a side of grilled tomatoes. Some serve them over a bed of Basmati rice topped with butter. This is close to the national dish of Iran, Chelo Kabab, is kebab served on saffron-infused Basmati rice.
A bonus is, kebabs are actually fairly healthy. They are not fried or deep fried and they have little or no extenders since they are made of pure cuts of meat or purely ground beef. They are also usually served with fresh vegetables. This makes them a good source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Even if you have it with basmati rice, they still give your body the good stuff. Basmati rice is healthy for you too. It has low glycemic index which is good for people with diabetes. Because of its high fiber content, it facilitates weight-loss by and facilitates digestion. It also has low saturated fat which makes it a healthy heart option.
You will see kebab-like skewered meat among different cuisines like Greek, Indian, Turkish, and Moroccan. They will vary in terms of spices used, side dishes, and sauce.
Kebab-ing at home
The only things that may make kebab a bit unhealthy are the type of meat used (if it’s fatty or not), the dressings and the not so traditional add-ons like cheese, mayonnaise, and the like.
So if you want to ensure you are getting a healthy meal out of your kebab, so it may be a good idea to learn to make some at home. You can buy hummus or a healthy yogurt dressing, and add cottage cheese instead or regular cheese.
Here are some recipes to help you get started! Add Kebab to your home prep menu.
- Greek Style Beef Kebabs – Try this recipe from HowStufWorks.com.
- Homemade Doner Kebabs – This will make a fancy themed-dinner with your family or friends! Try this recipe from recipetineats.com.
- Chelo Kebab Koobideh – Try this recipe from 196flavors.com.
TIP: You can replace sumac with: 1) lemon zest mixed with salt and a bit of paprika; or 2) lemon pepper seasoning.
Of course any kebab won’t be complete without the sides or some sauces. I think you have grilled tomato covered, here are other stuff you can prepare.
• Shirazi Salad (Persian Cucumber Tomato salad)
Some Tips for Left-Over Kebabs
What to do with left-overs? Don’t worry, we got you covered! Here are some tips for you!
- Turn into an omelet or a quiche. They have meat and veggies so it’s perfect!
- Toss it into a salad by adding fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber then top with a balsamic vinegar dressing.
- Make kebab sandwiches! Just add some more sauce or maybe some salad dressing.
- Turn it into an Aglio Olio pasta!
- Make Kebob Fried Rice – Try this recipe from NiftyThriftyMom.com
Or if you don’t feel like reinventing your kebob, you can simply reheat it. Here are some tips from FoodGuys.com.
- Pot it in the Oven. Wrap it in foil. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave it to heat for around 10 mins, then place the foiled kebab in the oven and heat it for 30 minutes.
- Heat it stove top – Put your kebab (off-stick) into a hot pan with a bit of olive oil. Toss it around to warm it through. Add more spices if you want. In a separate pan, you can also heat the pita.
- Can you microwave kebab? Well, who doesn’t want convenience right?
So, yes you can microwave kebab. Simply put your kebab into a microwave safe bowl. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Once it starts bursting, press pause and let it sit for 30 seconds. Then check if the meat is hot. If it’s still a bit cold, repeat the process. We suggest though maybe put a damp kitchen paper towel on top so your kebab doesn’t dry out.
You can also heat pita on a heat proof plate in the microwave too. But make sure you eat if immediately because it’ll harden up. To prevent this, maybe placing a damp towel on top of the pita would help retain some moisture.
So, is your mouth watering already? Me? I’m on my way to my favorite Persian place to satisfy my Kebab-craving!