The first kebabs were made by Persian soldiers who would grill meats on their swords, hence the traditional flat skewers Persians use today
For Persians, this dish is an institution. The word ‘kebab’ (or kabab, as Persians call it) means ‘to grill’, usually over fire. The first kebabs were made by Persian soldiers who would grill meats on their swords, hence the traditional flat skewers Persians use today – you can buy them online if you want to serve them this way. Although we only have a few different varieties of kebab, for me, this is the simplest yet most delicious.
Makes 5-6 large kebabs or 10-12 small patties
1kg minced lamb (30% fat is essential)
2 large onions, minced in a food processor and drained of any liquid, or very finely chopped
2 level tbsp ground turmeric
2 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
flatbreads, to serve
- Put all the main ingredients (not tomatoes) into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, work them together really well, pummelling the meat mixture for several minutes into a smooth paste.
- To make large kebabs, divide the mixture into 5-6 portions and form each portion around a flat sword skewer about 25cm long. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the meat widthways from one end of the kebab to the other to create the classic ridges. Cook them over a charcoal barbecue that has been burning for about 30 minutes, alongside the whole tomatoes. The trick is to cook them for 10-15 minutes in total until the meat is browned and cooked through, while turning them every 2 minutes to help the fat render and to prevent them burning. If they start to burn, your barbecue is too hot.
- To make small kebabs, preheat your oven to its highest setting (with fan if it has one). Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Divide the mixture into 10-12 portions, form into sausages, then flatten and pinch as above to create ridges.
- Place on the prepared baking tray with the tomatoes and bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Serve the kebabs and tomatoes immediately on the flatbreads so that they absorb the lovely juices.