Kebab (or originally kabab) is a wide variety of meat dishes originating in the Middle East and later on adopted in Turkey, Southern Europe, South Asia and Asia Minor, that are now found worldwide. In English, kebab with no qualification generally refers more specifically to shish kebab served on the skewer.
In the Middle East, however, kebab refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames; large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls. The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and taboos, it may now be beef, goat, chicken; fish and seafood; or even vegetarian foods like falafel or tofu. Like other ethnic foods brought by travelers, the kebab has become part of everyday cuisine in many countries around the globe.
The origin of kebab may lie in the short supply of cooking fuel in the Near East, which made the cooking of large foods difficult while urban economies made it easy to obtain small cuts of meat at a butcher’s shop. The phrase is Persian in origin and Arabic tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval Persian soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. According to Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveler, in India, kebab was served in the royal houses during the Delhi Sultanate period (1206-1526 CE), and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan. The dish has been native to the Near East and ancient Greece since antiquity; an early variant of kebab (Ancient Greek: ὀβελίσκος – obeliskos) is attested in Greece since 8th century BCE (archaic period) in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and in classical Greece, amongst others in the works of Aristophanes, Xenophon and Aristotle. Excavations held in Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini by professor Christos G. Doumas, unearthed stone sets of barbecue for skewers (Ancient Greek: κρατευταί – krateutai) used before the 17th century BCE. In each pair of the supports, the receptions for the spits are found in absolute equivalence, while the line of small openings in the base constitutes a mechanism for supplying the coals with oxygen so that they are kept alight during use.
Shish kebab is a dish consisting of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled. Any kind of meat may be used; cubes of fruit or vegetables are often threaded on the spit as well. Typical vegetables include tomato, capsicum (bell pepper), onions, and mushrooms. In English, the word “kebab” usually refers to shish kebab.
Döner kebab, literally “rotating kebab” in Turkish, is sliced lamb, beef, or chicken, slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit. The Middle Eastern shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros are all derived from the Turkish döner kebab, which was invented in Bursa in the 19th century by a cook named Hacı İskender.
The German-style döner kebab sandwich, sometimes called simply “a kebab” in English, was introduced by Turkish immigrants in Berlin in the 1970s, and has become one of the most popular take-away foods in Germany and much of Europe. It is commonly sold by Turks, and considered a Turkish-German specialty, in Germany.
Kebab Kenjeh کباب کنجه==
Kenjeh is a popular meat dish in the Middle East. It originated in Iran, where it is called ‘Chenjeh’ and was later adopted in Asia Minor. Kebab Kenjeh is now found worldwide. Lamb is traditionally the meat used in this dish. The ingredients include lamb, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It is usually served with rice, grilled tomato, and raw onion. There are also local variations in the pronunciation of Kenje Kebab کنجه کباب.
A kind of kebab served with a spicy tomato sauce and Aleppo pepper, very common in Syria and Lebanon, named after the city of Aleppo (Halab). Kebab halabi has around 26 variants including:
- Kebab karazf or cherry kebab in Arabic – meatballs (lamb) along with cherries and cherry paste, pine nuts, sugar and pomegranate molasses. It is considered one of Aleppo’s main dishes especially among Armenians.
- Kebab kashkhash – rolled lamb or beef with chilli pepper paste, parsley, garlic and pine nuts.
- Kebab hindi – rolled meat with tomato paste, onion, capsicum and pomegranate molasses.
- Kebab kamayeh – soft meat with truffle pieces, onion and various nuts.
- Kebab siniyye for tray kebab in Arabic – lean minced lamb in a tray added with chilli pepper, onion and tomato.
Kakori Kebab is a South Asian kebab attributed to the city of Kakori in Uttar Pradesh, India. There is much folklore about this famous kebab that takes its name from a small hamlet called Kakori on the outskirts of Lucknow.
One such story says that the kakori kebab was created by the Nawab of Kakori, Syed Mohammad Haider Kazmi, who, stung by the remark of a British officer about the coarse texture of the kebabs served at dinner, ordered his rakabdars (gourmet cooks) to evolve a more refined seekh kebab. After ten days of research, they came up with a kebab so soft and so juicy it won the praise of the very British officer who had scorned the Nawab.
The winning formula his rakabdars came upon included mince obtained from no other part but the raan ki machhli (tendon of the leg of mutton), khoya, white pepper and a mix of powdered spices.
Chapli Kebab is a patty made from beef mince, and is one of the popular barbecue meals in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The word Chapli comes from the Pashto word Chaprikh which means flat. It is prepared flat and round and served with naan. The kebab originates from Mardan and is a common dish in Pashtun cuisine. Mardan is famous for chapli kabab not only locally but also internationally.
Burrah Kebab is another kebab from Mughlai cuisine, fairly popular in South Asia. This is usually made of goat meat, liberally marinated with spices and charcoal grilled.
Kalmi Kebab is a popular snack in Indian cuisine. The dish is made by marinating chicken drumsticks and placing them in a tandoor. Various kinds of freshly ground Indian spices are added to the yoghurt used for the marination of the chicken. When prepared, the drumsticks are usually garnished with mint leaves and served with onions and Indian bread.
One of the more delicate kebabs from South Asia, made of minced goat / bison /boos, it may now be beef, got the galawati kebab was created for an aging Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow who lost his teeth, but not his passion for meat dishes. ‘Galawati’ means “melt in your mouth” and was perfect for the toothless Nawab who continued savouring this until his last days. Traditionally, green papaya is used to make it tender. After being mixed with a few select herbs and spices (great chefs rarely reveal what they are exactly), the very finely ground meat is shaped into patties and fried in pure ghee until they are browned. The original recipe that brought many a smile on the Nawab’s face, albeit toothless, and many a sigh of satisfaction, is supposed to have more than 100 aromatic spices. The Galouti Kebab is part of the Awadhi cuisine. Along with the Lucknowi biryani and Kakori Kebab, this is one of the outstanding highlights of the great food tradition from the Awadh region in Uttar Pradesh, India. Many leading Indian hotel chains have taken to popularising the Awadhi food tradition, with the Galouti Kebab being a Pièce de résistance. The home of this kebab is Lucknow. It is most famously had at the almost iconic eatery “Tundey Miyan” at Old Lucknow.
A dish from Central Anatolia and the Mid-Western Black Sea region, consisting of a mixture of meat and vegetables cooked in a clay pot or jug over fire (testi means jug in Turkish). The pot is sealed with bread dough or foil and is broken when serving.
Adana kebabı ”(or kıyma kebabı)” is a long, hand-minced meat kebab mounted on a wide iron skewer and grilled over charcoal.
Refer to Chelow Kabab.
The meal is simple, consisting of steamed, saffroned basmati or Persian rice (chelow) and kabab, of which there are several distinct Persian varieties. This dish is served everywhere throughout Iran today, but traditionally was most closely associated with the northern part of the country. It is served with the basic Iranian meal accompaniments, in addition to grilled tomatoes on the side of the rice, and butter on top of the rice. It is an old northern tradition (probably originating in Tehran) that a raw egg yolk should be placed on top of the rice as well, though this is strictly optional, and most restaurants will not serve the rice this way unless it is specifically requested. “Somagh”, powdered sumac, is also made available and its use varies based on tastes to a small dash on the rice or a heavy sprinkling on both rice and meat, particularly when used with red (beef/veal/lamb) meat. In the old bazaar tradition, the rice (which is covered with a tin lid) and accompaniments are served first, immediately followed by the kebabs, which are brought to the table by the waiter, who holds several skewers in his left hand, and a piece of flat bread (typically nan-e lavash) in his right. A skewer is placed directly on the rice and while holding the kebab down on the rice with the bread, the skewer is quickly pulled out. With the two most common kebabs, barg and koobideh, two skewers are always served. In general, bazaar kebab restaurants only serve these two varieties, though there are exceptions. The traditional beverage of choice to accompany kebab is Doogh, a sour yoghurt drink with mint and salt.
Refer to Kabab Koobideh
Kabab koobideh is an Iranian minced meat kabab which is made from ground lamb, beef, or chicken, often mixed with parsley and chopped onions. Kabab Koobideh contains: ground meat, onion, salt, pepper, turmeric, and seasoning. These ingredients are mixed together until the mixture becomes smooth and sticky. One egg is added to help the mix stick together. The mixture is then pressed around a skewer.
Refer to Kabab Barg
Kaba-b-e Barg is a Persian style barbecued lamb, chicken or beef kebab dish. The main ingredients of Kabab Barg – a short form of this name — are fillets of beef tenderloin, lamb shank or chicken breast, onions and olive oil. Marinade is prepared by the mixture of half a cup of olive oil, three onions, garlic, half teaspoon saffron, salt and black pepper. One kilogram of lamb is cut into 1 cm thick and 4–5 cm long pieces. It should be marinated overnight in refrigerator, and the container should be covered. The next day, the lamb is threaded on long, thin metal skewers. It is brushed with marinade and is barbecued for 5–10 minutes on each side.
At Persian restaurants, the combination of one Kabab Barg and one Kabab Koobideh is typically called Soltani, meaning ‘Sultan’s Feast.’
Refer to Jujeh Kabab
Ju-je-kabab consists of pieces of chicken first marinated in minced onion and lemon juice with saffron then grilled over a fire. It is sometimes served with grilled tomato and pepper. Jujeh kabab is one of the most popular Persian dishes.
Combination of Jujeh Kabab and Kabab Barg in a decussate form.
National varieties of Kebab
The main varieties include kabob e chopan, chapli kabob, teka kabob, shaami kabob, and rudi kabob.
Seasoned meat in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly, cooking against a vertical rotisserie. The outside of the meat is then sliced vertically into thin, crisp shavings. Toppings include tomato, onion, lettuce, lavash, tabbouleh, fattoush and cucumber and sauces such as tzatziki, yoghurt, tahini, hummus and chilli.
The main varieties include tika kabab, lyula kabab (doyma kabab in some places), tas kababy and tava kabab. The meat for tika kabab is sometimes prepared in basdirma (an onion gravy and thyme)t / bison /boos, it may noe ramrods. When served, it could be adorned with sauce-like pomegranate addon (narsharab) and other condiments, and may also be served wrapped in Lavash.
In Bulgaria, the word кебап (kebap) refers to meat stews with relatively few or no vegetables. Dishes which are known in English as different kinds of “kebab” are not perceived as a distinct group of dishes. The Döner kebab is wide spread as fast food and is called merely дюнер (döner) thus not relating it to the Bulgarian кебап at all. Шиш кебап (Shish kebap) or Шашлик (Shahlik) is also common and has the same name as in Turkish.
ۋاپ (Kawap) in Uyghur or Chuanr 串 called “chuàn” in Mandarin, often referred to as “Chua’r” in Pekingese throughout the North, is a variation of kebab originating from the Uyghurs in the Western province of Xinjiang, and a popular dish in Chinese Islamic cuisine.. It has since spread across the rest of the country and become a popular street food. Small pieces of meat are skewered and either roasted or deep-fried. Common spices and condiments include Chinese style of cumin called “ziran”, pepper, sesame, and sesame oil. Although the most traditional form of chuanr uses lamb or mutton, other types of meat, such as chicken, beef, pork, and seafood, can be used as well. During Chinese New Year, it is common to find fruit kebabs candied and covered with a hard candy sugar coating. At the famous Wángfǔjǐng in Beijing, it is very common to find many kinds of fruit kebabs of everything from bananas, strawberries, and seasonal Chinese fruits, as well as scorpions, squids, and various Japanese flavoured kebabs all year long.
Kebabs in India are more or less similar to most other kebab preparations along with their distinct taste which can be credited to the spices native to the sub-continent. All the varieties such as Sheekh, Doner (known as Shawarma), Shammi Tikka, and other forms of roasted and grilled meats are savoured in this part of the world.
Some popular Indian kababs are:
- Kakori Kebab
- Shami Kabab- a popular Pakistani, Persian, and Indian style of kebab, that is composed of small patty minced mutton or beef, ground chickpeas and spices.
- Kalmi Kebab
- Kacche gosht ke chapli kabab
- Tunda Kabab (prepared with pumpkin)
- Sambhali Kabab
- Galawati Kebab
- Boti Kebab
- Hara Bhara Kabab
- Kathi Kabab
- Reshmi Kabab
- Lasoni Kabab
- Chicken Malai Kabab
- Tikka Kabab
- Tangdi Kabab (Tangdi meaning leg of the chicken)
- Kaleji Kabab
- Hariali Chicken Kabab
- Bihari Kabab
Pakistani cuisine is rich with different kebabs. Meat including beef, chicken, lamb and fish is used in kababs.
Some popular Pakistani kebabs are:
- Seekh Kebab
- Shami Kebab – a popular Pakistani, Persian, and Indian style of kebab, that is composed of small patty minced mutton or beef, ground chickpeas and spices.
- Chapli Kebab
- Chicken Kebab
- Lamb Kebab
- Bun kebab
- Tikka Kebab
- Reshmi Kebab
- Bihari Kebab
- Kache Qeema Kebab
- Gola Kebab
- Fry Kebab
- Dhaga Kabab
- Fish Kebab
- Peshawari Kebab
- adraki murg kebab
Kebabs in Malaysia are generally sold at pasar malam (night markets) and in shopping mall food courts. Normally the meat, after being cut from the spit is pan fried with onions and hot sauce then placed into a pita bread pocket before being filled with condiments such as tomatoes, mayonnaise, onion and lettuce.
Before taking its modern form, as mentioned in Ottoman travel books of the 18th century, the doner used to be a horizontal stack of meat rather than vertical, probably sharing common ancestors with the Cağ Kebabı of the Eastern Turkish province of Erzurum. In his own family biography, İskender Efendi of 19th century Bursa writes that “he and his grandfather had the idea of roasting the lamb vertically rather than horizontally, and invented for that purpose a vertical mangal”. Since then Hacı İskender is known as the inventor of Turkish Döner Kebap. With time, the meat took a different marinade, got leaner, and eventually took its modern shape.
- Adana Kebabi – Minced meat (lamb), dried red and green hot pepper, garlic and fresh red pepper are kneaded, coated on the skewers and grilled.
- Antep Kebabi – Minced meat is kneaded with red hot pepper and salt, grilled and served with pide (pitta bread), onion, tomato and green pepper.
- Çag Kebabi – Very thin sliced lamb meat is rested in onion, yogurt, salt and pepper for a day, put on a skewer, and then grilled. Thin slices are cut like döner and served on skewers with grilled pepper, tomato and onions.
- Döner – Pieces of meat and minced meat are put on a big skewer, cooked vertically by spinning it next to the grill. If you know that dönmek means ‘to turn’, then you understand the origin of the word döner. Thin pieces are cut like leaves with a big knife. Can be served on a plate, in between bread or with pide. Döner dürüm is wrapped in lavas (tortilla like thin leaves of bread) with some tomato, lettuce, pickles and fried potatoes.
- Iskender Kebap – Döner meat is laid on pieces of pide dressed with butter. Yogurt is served on a side of the plate and if preferred tomato sauce and extra butter can be used for dressing. It is also known as Bursa Kebabi.
- Patlican Kebabi – Minced meat, salt and pepper kneaded and meatballs are put on the skewer in turns with big pieces of aubergines. Served with grilled tomatoes and peppers.
- Sis Kebap – Small cubes of lamb meat are rested in onion, yogurt, salt, pepper and olive oil for two hours and then grilled with cubes of pepper and tomato.
- Urfa Kebabi – Minced meat (lamb), dried red hot pepper, onion, tomato and parsley are kneaded, coated on the skewers and grilled. Served on small pieces of pide and dressed with gravy.
Stove or oven cooked Kebabs
- Alinazik – Roasted small chopped pieces of steak or minced meat are served on top of the mash of broiled and peeled aubergine, yogurt, garlic and spices.
- Beyti Kebap – Minded meat is kneaded with tomato, tomato paste, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Wrapped in lavas (see above), baked and served with tomato sauce and yogurt.
- Bugu Kebabi – Small pieces of lamb meat are cooked with tomato, shallot (small onions), thyme, daphne, salt and pepper in casserole (clay pot) covered with dough not to let the steam go out.
- Kagit Kebabi – Sebzeli kebap (see below) is cooked, wrapped in fireproof paper and oven cooked some more.
- Sebzeli kebap – Pieces of meat cooked in a pot with various vegetables like onion, potato, carrot, tomato, aubergine, pepper.
- Tandir Kebabi – Lamb chops (legs) are baked with lemon, onion, tomato and green pepper, served with fried potatoes.
Alambre is a Mexican shish kebab. Alambre actually means “wire” or “skewer”, although nowadays it’s rare to find an alambre that’s actually served on skewers. Instead of carrying the literal meaning, the name now evokes a certain style of grilled meat and a combination of ingredients – carne asada, beef, pork, or chicken; some type of pepper (typically red); onions, and the gem that makes it all swoon-worthy: bacon.
The meat and vegetables are fried together on a hot metal plate, and the chef chops and mixes them as they sizzle. At the last minute adding the creamy Oaxacan string cheese to the alambre and it melts into soft white rivers atop the meat and the veggies. The dish is typically served with flour tortillas, limes, and a variety of salsas.
Steam kebab (Turkish – Buğu kebabı) is a Turkish kebab dish which is prepared in an earthenware casserole. The casseroles lid is sealed with dough in order to cook the meat in its own juices. The dish is prepared with pearl onions, garlic, thyme, and other spices. In Tekirdağ, it is served with cumin; in Izmir, it is served with mastic.