Kababs are easy and convenient to cook. In Iran and east of Iran meat is marinated in herbs, onion, garlic, and vinegar or lime juice or yogurt for 4 to 24 hours so the meat tenderizes and is well seasoned. Then, the meat is threaded onto skewers (a small piece of lamb tailfat can be placed between every two pieces of meat) and cooked over glowing charcoals for a subtly perfumed, flame-rich flavor. Iranians use a long, flat metal (preferably stainless steel) skewers. Different widths are used for different types of kababs. Thin, 1/8 inch-wide skewers are used when the meat is in cubes. Medium width, 3/8 inch-wide skewers are used for strips of meat and chicken. Large, 1 inch-wide skewers are used for ground meat kababs. The meat is brushed with the marinade mixture and ghee occasionally and turned frequently. The kabab is cooked just long enough to be seared on the outside, pink and juicy within. The following is a listing of the most popular kabab dishes:
Lamb Kabab - Chenjeh kabab
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 4 hours' marinating
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1 pound lean tenderloin lamb, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 large onion, peeled and grated
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground
4 large tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 pound lamb tailfat
1/2 cup butter or ghee, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
Freshly ground black pepper
1 12-ounce package of lavash bread
6 flat, J inch-wide swordlike skewers
1. Have your butcher remove back bones from the lamb loins, then the fillets from the loins, and then trim all fat and gristle from the main muscles.
2. Cut meat into 2-inch cubes, pound each piece lightly with a heavy-bladed knife to make shallow incisions along the meat. Cut tailfat into 1-inch cubes. Place meat and tailfat in a large bowl.
3. Add onion, salt, pepper and lime juice. Mix well. Cover the meat and marinate for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Start a bed of charcoal 30 minutes before you want to cook and let it burn until the coals glow. (You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.)
5. During this time, thread 5 or 6 pieces of meat onto each skewer and thread 1 piece of tailfat between every two pieces of meat, leaving a few inches free on both ends. Spear tomatoes onto separate skewers.
6. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add the lime juice, saffron water,and salt and pepper to your taste. Keep warm. Baste the meat and tomatoes with this mixture.
7. When the coals are glowing, first place tomatoes on grill; after 1 minute, place the skewered meat on the grill. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, turning frequently, basting occasionally. The meat should be seared on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside.
8. Spread lavash bread on a serving platter. When the meat is cooked, place the skewers of meat on the bread and brush them with the baste. Garnish with grilled tomatoes. Try a piece to taste (cook's privilege). Cover with lavash bread to keep warm.
9. Serve immediately with chelow, lavash bread, or Persian pickles (torshi) and a dish of fresh herbs, especially scallions and basil. Remove the meat from each skewer by taking a piece of lavash bread, placing it over several pieces of meat, and using it to slide the meat off the skewer. Nush-e Jan!