Kebabs are one of my favorite foods to eat at a restaurant.
Kebabs are different things to different people. Following is what Wikipedia has to say – my go to guide to get an overview of subjects:
The word kabab (کباب) is ultimately from Arabic and originally meant fried meat, not grilled meat.
The Arabic word possibly derives from Aramaic כבבא kabbābā, which probably has its origins in Akkadian kabābu meaning “to burn, char”.
In the 14th century, kebab is defined to be synonymous with tabahajah, a Persian word for a dish of fried meat pieces. The Persian word was considered more high-toned in the medieval period.
Kebab was used frequently in Turkish books of that time to refer to meatballs made of ground or pounded chicken or lamb. Only in the Turkish period, did kebab gain its current meaning of shish kebab, whereas earlier shiwa` شواء had been the Arabic word for grilled meat.
Without getting too cerebral about it – a kebab to me is generally minced meat grilled on a skewer – like a seekh kebab.
For the longest time I would only eat these wondrous things in restaurants that had a tandoor (clay oven that reached tempertures of up to 1100 degrees and imparts a delicous flavor to the meats). But recently, at Indian Cuilinaary Center I bagan teaching a class called Kebabs and Tikkas.
It went really well. I admit that I was a bit nervous as my first class had students who had eaten the real thing in Delhi and other cities known for their excellent Kebabs.
After making a disclaimer that said that making Kebabs at home is trying to replicate pizza at home. You will be thrilled that you did it and it will taste good – but nothing like the magic that a wood burning oven can do to a pizza.
Having said that – we set out making Kebabs and everyone loved it.
Following is a recipe for Paneer and Grape Tikkas (not to confuse you – but Tikka is the word for a small piece of meat of vegetable).
PANEER and GRAPE TIKKA
I lb. Paneer* (home made cheese) cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup seedless grapes
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
Salt to taste
2 Tbs. Chickpea/Gram flour (besan)
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ Tsp.Dry mango powder (amchur)
I Tbs. Lemon juice
1 tsp. Chaat masala
Cut paneer into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle with salt, cayenne and mango powder.
Make skewers by threading alternating pieces of paneer and grapes. Make them the size of the skillet you will be using to cook them in.
Heat a non stick skillet with 2 Tbs. oil and dredge the paneer in the chickpea flour. Place the skewers in the skillet and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes or until the paneer gets brown.
Remove to a platter and sprinkle with Chaat masala and lemon juice.
If you are using a grill don’t use the chickpea flour as it will burn. Cook the skewers till the paneer is nice and brown.
For the Oven: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook skewers on a baking tray for 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: Store bought paneer works best for this recipe. Find paneer in the Indian grocery stores – Nanak is my favorite brand – but there are many others too.
Some more facts about Kebabs from Wikipedia if you are interested:
The origin of kebab may lie in the short supply of cooking fuel in the Near East, which made the cooking of large foods difficult, while urban economies made it easy to obtain small cuts of meat at a butcher’s shop. The phrase is essentially Turkish in origin and Turkish tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval Turkic soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. However, the dish has been native to the Near East and East Mediterranean—especially Greece—since ancient times. Indeed, there exist pictures of Byzantine Greeks preparing shish kebabs and such food is attested in Ancient Greece as early as 8th century BCE (archaic period) in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and in classical Greece, amongst others in the works of Aristophanes, Xenophon and Aristotle.
Ibn Battuta records that kebab was served in the royal houses of India since at least the Sultanate period, and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan.
For real life Kebabs – take a class at http://www.Indianculinarycenter.com
Until I eat again!