A Complete Guide to the Iranian Kebab
Iran is the land of kebabs but Iranian cuisine is much more diverse, complicated and difficult to be made than that. Located in the Middle East, Iranian cuisine has both influenced and been influenced by its Western and Eastern neighbors. Perhaps, the modern Iranian style of cooking includes a wide variety of foods, a combination of Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Central Asian, Russian, Armenian and the ancient Iranian recipes, finely blended together as one of the most delicious cuisines in the world.In Iran, fresh herbs, pomegranates, dried plums and prunes, raisins, apricots and saffron are generously consumed in the process of cooking, giving the food a delicate and moderate flavor which is not too spicy, too sour, too sweet or too salty.
Chelow Kabab which is relatively simpler than the other recipes, is considered Iran’s national dish and served throughout Iran today, though was traditionally associated with the northern part of the country. Chelow Kabab is steamed, saffroned Iranian rice and kabab, of which there are several distinct varieties.
Koobideh is the Iran’s signature Kebab and the most famous of them all. It is made from ground lamb, beef or chicken mixed with chopped onions. Koobideh refers to the style that meat was prepared, originally placed on a flat stone (precisely a black flat stone) and was smashed by wooden mallet.
Joojeh Kabab: Joujeh Kabab is barbecued chicken with olive oil, tomatoes and saffron.
Barg is in fact barbecued lamb, chicken or beef kebab dish. The main ingredients of Kabab-e Barg are fillets of beef tenderloin, lamb shank, onions, safron, olive oil and mild spices.
Shishlik or Shish Kebab: Shishlik meaning skewered meat is originally made of lamb and popular in many countries. In Iran, it is grilled meat with bones, previously marinated in onion, olive oil and saffron.
Kabab torsh is a traditional kebab from Gilan province in Iran. It is made with beef – usually sirloin or tenderloin – marinated in a paste made of crushed walnuts, pomegranate juice or paste, chopped parsley, olive oil, and crushed garlic.
The combination of one Kabab Barg and one Kabab Koobideh is typically called soltānī, meaning King’s (meal).
Kabab Torki aka Turkish Kabab is same Doner Kabab and Shawarma in other countries. In Iran it is served in big pita breads with stir fried veggies.
Kabab bakhtiari is a combination of jujeh kabab and kabab barg in a decussate form.
Chenjeh is pure meat and very similar to western steaks. However, unlike most of Iranian Kebabs, onion is not used in prepration. Chenjeh is usually made from the meat of newly slaughtered sheep, when it’s still soft and fresh.
Mahi Kabab or barbecued fish is popular in both northern and southern Iran, particularly in Caspian sea and Persian Gulf regions. However white fish (Caspian Kutum) from the Caspian Sea is among the preferred type for the dish.
Recipe for Kabab Koobideh: (4 servings)
1 kilograms ground meat (lamb or beef or a mix of both and grind finely 2,3 times)
1 large onion (grated)
2 large egg yolk (beaten)
4 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 spoonful boiled saffron
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sumac
1- Soak 1/2 Tsp saffron in a class of hot water, cover the glass with a lid and leave it to give out its color. You will need 3 spoonful of the result for Kabab Koobideh and can keep the leftover in the fridge for long time.
2- Grate the onions and drain the excessive juice.
1. Mix meat, onion, eggs, baking soda, 3 spoonful of boiled saffron, salt and paper well with your hands in a large bowl until the mixture becomes well blended. The result should be sticky like dough. Leave it aside for 2 hours.
2. Take a handful of meat and place it on the long, thick metal skewers, press the meat around oval and shape evenly flat. +
3. If the meat is sticky, leave a bowl of water next to you to drip in your hand while placing the meat to prevent the stickiness.
4. Thread whole tomatoes on another skewer.
5. Barbeque each side for about five minutes, turning frequently. If skewers are not available or barbequing is not possible, kabab-e koobideh can be shaped into long, thin portions on aluminum foil and grilled at high temperature in the oven. The oven should be pre-heated and kabab-e koobideh should be placed as high as possible near the source of the heat.
Serve with hot Polow (Chelow) or on Iranian bread. If serving with rice, may be topped by butter and some sumac. If kabab-e koobideh was made in an oven, the juice from the kabab can be poured on rice or bread. +
Recipe for Rice (Polow) : (4 Servings)
4 cups long-grain rice or basmati
6 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon salt
3 spoonful butter
1 or 2 spoonful saffron ( You may use the leftovers from the Kabab Koobideh recipe)
The preparation of Iranian polow (chelow) is a delicious non-sticky rice, normally served with kababs or any of the main Persian dishes.
Wash rice twice and soak in salted warm water for 2-3 hours, then drain the water. Pour water in a large pan until it is half-full and bring it to a boil.
Add rice and a spoonful of salt and continue boiling until rice slightly softens. (The rice should become soft but slightly chewy. Experience makes perfect. ) Pour rice into a drain and wash it with slightly warm water.
Pour 3 spoonfuls of cooking oil into the pan and add rice. Pour 3 spoonfuls of butter and 1 spoonful of saffron over rice. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for about half an hour. If cooking time is increased, a delicious crispy layer of rice (called ta-dig) will form at the bottom of the pan. But be careful, not to burn it.
Enjoy your meal while reading a history of Chelo-Kabab!