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Kebab is a generic term used to refer to a number of meat dishes, ideally lamb dishes, from the Persian cuisine. Whether its called a kabab, kebap, kebob, qabab, kephav, or kebhav the term in the western context is used to refer to skewered meat dish. Kebabs may also include non-skewered varieties of the family. Though the skewered ones may be eaten as it is, the non-skewered varieties are served in bowls with salads and other accompaniments or used as a filling for sandwiches. There are also stewed kebabs. Popular kebab recipes include those for shish kebab, donor kebab, kathi, chapli, kalmi, burrah, galouti, kakori, chelow and testi. Vegan kebab recipes are gaining popularity these days. They made are using tofu or falafel.

History of Kebabs

The word kebab or kabab, was originally used for fried meat (from the Persian word tabahajah) and not the skewered and grilled ones as we know of today. The word, however is now used to refer to mostly grilled meat as in the shish kebab. In the olden times kebabs were meatballs made of pounded or ground meat of lamb or chicken. Kebabs were believed to have been conceptualized by the medieval Iranian soldiers who first started roasting small pieces of meat by using their swords as skewers. Food history also refers to the near Eastern, eastern Mediterranean and Greek cuisines for the origin of the dish.

Ingredients Prescribed by Kebab Recipes and their Methods of Preparation

A kebab is traditionally made of lamb meat, but beef, pork, chicken , seafood and fish, and goat meat are also being used for the purpose. The meat is prepared by seasoning it with spices and herbs. Apart from meat, vegan and vegetarian kebabs are prepared with falafel, tofu, vegetables, and fruits. Kebabs are prepared by grilling , roasting or stewing. Shish kebabs are cooked by grilling the skewered chunks of meat while the doner kebabs are made by roasting on a rotating spit without the usage of skewers.

Popular Kebab Recipes

Kababs are prepared by different sub-cuisines of the Asian cuisine in region-specific ways. Here, some of the most popular kebab recipes are discussed:

Skewered kebabs

  • Shish- this kebab, from the Turkish cuisine, has gained immense popularity in the western countries and the American reference to a kebab is mostly about this member of the kebab family. This is made using a wide variety of meats which are skewered along with fruits or vegetables. Vegetables that are commonly used are eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers.

  • Kakori – this kebab which originated in Kakori cuisine of Uttar Pradesh region of India, is made up of spicy skewered pieces of minced meat. It is served as an accompaniment to Rumali roties, a type of thin flat Indian bread.

  • Kathi kebab- this spicy Indian variant of the kebab which is served as an accompaniment to a number of Indian breads, is made by baking the skewered meat on heat in a tandoor and not on direct fire. The kebab remains soft and juicy owing to exposure to tender heat.

  • Chappal – also known as chapli kebab, this Pakistani flat beef patty is served with Pakistani naan with accompaniments like raita( yogurt sauce) and salads.

  • Kalmi- this Indian kebab, originally from Balochistan, is made with chicken drumstick meat marinated with a spicy yogurt mix. It is served with Indian breads with mint and onion garnish.

  • Burrah- this is a Moglai kebab made of charcoal grilled spicy marinated goat meat

  • Galouti– this is a royal kebab made of minced beef or goat meat from the Awadhi cuisine of India

  • Chelow – this is an Iranian kebab served over rice.

Non-skewered Kebabs

  • Doner – This is a Turkish kebab made by slow-roasting of slices of lamb, chicken and beef. It is very popular in Europe and the European reference to a kebab in general is about doner kebabs. Take away doner kebabs which are commercially sold kebabs by kebab joints are very popular in Europe and Australia. Doner kababs are eaten with pita bread as its filling, or served with salads and French fries.

  • Testi- this consists of a dish prepared by cooking meat and vegetables together in a clay pot covered with bread dough over fire. Serving Kebabs Kebab is eaten as an appetizer or served as accompaniment to other dishes. When eaten as an appetizer it is served with sauces. It is also presented for a meal with Asian breads in both skewered and non-skewered forms. Rice and pita bread with vegetables and dipping sauces like cacik from the Turkish cuisine are considered traditional accompaniments to kebabs.

Kebab Recipes and Health

A kebab is eaten more for its delicious taste, rather than for its nutritive value. Concerns have been raised about the high salt, high fat and inappropriate labeling of meats used in the preparation of doner kebabs which are very popular in the European cuisines.