Thinking about Persian food brings to mind the dazzling sabzi khordan, array of kebabs, magnificent naans & pilafs and also the saffron, pistachios, rose petals & rose water, preserved limes and barberries. I grew up in a house where Persian was just as common a language as Urdu, Kashmiri and English. Persian poetry couplets were interspersed into everyday talking and it was just a normal way of having a conversation. The Persian influence in Kashmir is not limited to arts, architecture and language. It also has been a huge influence on the food in the valley of Kashmir.
This could very well become an interesting article on History and how food evolves. But that is a discussion for another day. Today I just want to dig into the lamb chelo kebab I made for Progressive eats. The reason I chose the lamb chelo kebab is because we are doing a Middle Eastern/ Moroccan Menu for our Progressive Eats dinner this month and nothing makes me happier than a plate of Persian food.
The best thing to eat from this plate of food is the rice. Glistening with melted butter, salted to perfection and cooked till all grains were separate. The magic is in the rice. The kebab is just incidental. Having said that, here are some tips to make sure your kebabs turn out moist and juicy and don’t fall off the skewers.
Tips for a Good Kebab made with ground meat:
- Use fresh meat, never frozen.
- Make sure to wash the meat before it is ground and never wash ground meat.
- When making skewers, Make sure the thickness of the meat mixture around the skewer is even.
- Never allow one side of the skewer to cook completely before turning, it will make the uncooked side fall from the skewer. So keep turning the skewers in the order you put them on the grill.
- For ground meat kebabs, you want to grill them in such a way that the meat doesn’t touch the surface of the grill. You can easily do this by placing two heavy metal rods on the surface of the grill for the top and the bottom of the skewers to rest on.
- It’s ideal to cook these on a coal grill for maximum flavor.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month we’re sharing a Middle Eastern/Moroccan Menu, and our event is hosted by Susan, who blogs at The Wimpy Vegetarian. We have a full menu of ideas to tempt you into the kitchen and release your inner-Ottolenghi. If you’re looking for something new to try, check out these wonderfully creative dishes!
Progressive Eats Middle Eastern/Moroccan Menu
- Pomegranate Green Tea Mojito from The Redhead Baker
- Hummus Tehina from Food Hunters Guide to Cuisine
- Lamb Chelo Kebab from Spice Roots
- Prawns, Feta, and Tomatoes over Couscous from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Homemade Pita Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Jeweled Persian-Style Rice (Gluten-Free) from The Heritage Cook
- Pomegranate Posset from Mother Would Know
- Moroccan Shortbread Cookies with Cracked Tops (Ghoriba Bahla) from Pastry Chef Online
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
Lamb Chelo Kebab
- 2 C White Long Grain Rice
- Water to boil rice in
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 C Salted Butter preferably European
- 2 medium onions about 400gms
- 1.5 pounds ground lamb
- a pinch of saffron
- Salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Urfa chillies - optional to taste
- Turmeric - a pinch
- Rinse the rice until water runs clear. Soak covered with water for about 30 minutes. Drain.
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add the salt and add the rice.
- Cook until rice is almost done but not soft. Drain and rinse with tap water to sop further cooking.
- Add a little butter into a pot, pile up the rice into a cone shape on the butter. Make some holes with the back of your spatula and add butter into these holes. Cover and cook on diffused low heat for about 30 minutes.
- Make a puree out of the onions and strain out the juice.
- Take a tsp or two of the onion juice, add the saffron into it to dissolve.
- Take the pulp of onions and add to the ground lamb, add the saffron , salt, pepper, urfa chillies if using and turmeric.
- Mix and knead with your fingers until it all sticks together and does not fall apart when you pick it up in your hand.
- Take a handful of this mixture and place your metal skewer on it, then start spreading the meat on the middle section of the skewer by opening and closing your fingers to stick the mixture securely to the skewer.
- Leave a few inches from the top and bottom for grilling.
- Make sure the thickness of the meat mixture around the skewer is even.
- Place the kebabs on a baking tray with raised sides so that the skewers can rest on it without the meat touching the tray.
- Cook on a grill until done.
- I baked mine in a 550*F oven for about 3- 4 minutes each side.
- Serve with a Persian salad, some grilled tomatoes and the Chelo rice.