My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Shish Kebab of Iraq

Kebab is a well known dish in the Middle East. There are different types of Kebab depending on which country you are staying in. In Iraq, Kebab refers to ground meat on skewers. Meat chunks on skewers are called Tikka. Iraqi Kebab is made of ground lamb meat but in the US we use beef. Kebab can be consumed any time of the day. Though many people would have kebab for breakfast, I personally consume Kebab for lunch or dinner. Many restaurants in Iraq are specialized in Tikka or Kebab, for both are easy to make and can be prepared quickly. Limited menu, as you would imagine, is a good strategy requiring limited labor and excellent profit. Traditionally the Kebab is prepared on natural wood charcoal. However, here in the US, we often use Propane BBQ. Natural wood charcoal gives Kebab a delicious flavor. Back in Iraq, during the good old days, after we were done drinking, we would go out for dinner, and Kebab and Tikka used to be our preferred meal.

Main Entrée

Ingredients for 12 skewers:

Two pounds of ground beef (I use 15% fat)
One small onion (chopped- fine)
Two small tomatoes (chopped- fine)
Half a cup of chopped Italian Parsley
Black peppers
Summaq (mild sour pepper - red in color)

All ingredients except the Summaq are added to a large bowl and mixed well with hands. Sometimes the mix becomes too loose because of the onions and the tomatoes. It may not stick to the skewers. To salvage the situation, you can add fine bread crumbs and mix well until the mix is sticky.

Loading on skewers:

The mix is cut in small lumps, each the size of your full hand. Apply on the skewer and mold well.
To prevent the meat sticking to your hand, dip the fingers in water and spread to your palm and continue molding until the kebab is about 6-8 inches long (make sure the meat is uniformly distributed).
Once all the meat is on skewers, prepare the pan for the cooked Kebab.
Place the bread on bottom of the pan and spread some summaq on it.
Place the Kebab on the pre-heated BBQ (350 degrees)
Flip the skewers within 30 seconds to help stabilize the meat on the skewers. You can flip the skewers back and forth ever minute or so until the meat is cooked.

Unloading the Skewers:
The Kebab is taken off the skewers by folding the bread around the Kebab and pulling gently towards you followed by pushing away from you into the pan to prevent breaking the kebab.
Finally, more Summaq is spread over the final product.

I personally prefer to serve the Kebab with Basmati rice and some green salad.

Yum, Yum…

Samir and Layla Johna


B. Ramana said...

How did you manage to smuggle those swords that you call skewers into the US from Iraq?
BTW, this tikka doesn't have GARLIC?
How come?? Or you forgot to include it???

Samir Johna, MD said...


Don't get me in trouble now! The INS officer was Japanese and he thought they were Samorai swords! The issue of garlic is optional. The commercial Kebab has no garlic but at home you can modify the seasoning to your liking. I certainly had prepared some Kebab with garlic added when I encounter visitors who worship garlic!