|Place of origin||Middle East|
Kebab, (also kebap, kabob, or kabab) is a Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean, and South Asian dish of pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit originating in the Eastern Mediterranean, where it is mentioned by Homer, or the Middle East, and later adopted in Central Asia and by the regions of the former Mongol Empire and later Ottoman Empire, before spreading worldwide. In American English, kebab with no qualification refers to shish kebab (Turkish: şiş kebap) cooked on a skewer, whereas in Europe it refers to doner kebab, sliced meat served in a pita. In the Middle East, however, kebab refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames; large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls.
The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and religious prohibitions, other meats may include beef, goat, chicken, pork or fish. Like other ethnic foods brought by travellers, the kebab has remained a part of everyday cuisine in most of the Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia. It is also popular among Western youth as a snack after a night out.
Excavations held in Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini by professor Christos G. Doumas, unearthed firedogs (stone sets of barbecue for skewers; Greek: κρατευταί - krateutai) used before the 17th century BCE. In each pair of the supports, the receptions for the spits are found in absolute equivalence, while the line of small openings in the base formed a mechanism to supply the coals with oxygen so that they remained alight during its use. Mycenaean Greeks used portable trays to grill souvlaki, small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. These souvlaki trays were rectangular ceramic pans that sat underneath skewers of meat but it's not clear whether these trays would have been placed directly over a fire or if the pans would have held hot coals like a portable barbecue pit. The skewered meat, kebab-like recipe, existed as a favorite also in Archaic Greece, referenced in Homer. In Classical Greece souvlaki was known with the name ὀβελίσκος (obeliskos), dim. of ὀβελός (obelos), "spit", mentioned amongst others in the works of Aristophanes, Xenophon, Aristotle, etc. A meat and bread recipe which resembles the way pita souvlaki is served today, with pita bread was also attested by Athenaeus in Deipnosophistae and called the plate kandaulos.
According to Sevan Nişanyan, an etymologist of the Turkish language, the word kebab is derived from the Persian word "kabap" meaning "fry". The word was first mentioned in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusuf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebab is mentioned as a food. However, he emphasizes that the word has the equivalent meaning of "frying/burning" with "kabābu" in the old Akkadian language, and "kbabā/כבבא" in Syriac language. Tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval  Persian soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. Kebab was served in the royal houses during various Islamic Empires and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan or pita.
The Afghan variant of the kebab is the "kabob".
Kebabs in Armenia are prepared of ground meat spiced with pepper, parsley and other herbs and roasted on skewers.
The main varieties include tika kabab, lyula kabab (doyma kabab in some places), tas kababy and tava kabab. The meat for tika kabab is sometimes prepared in basdirma (an onion gravy and thyme) and then goes onto the ramrods. It may be served, wrapped in lavash, with sauce-like pomegranate addon (narsharab) and other condiments.
In Bulgaria, the word кебап (kebap) is a generic term for meat stews with few or no vegetables. Dishes which are known in English as different kinds of "kebab" are not perceived as a distinct group of dishes. The döner kebab is widespread as fast food and is called merely дюнер (döner) thus not relating it to the Bulgarian кебап at all. Shish kebap / shashlik is also common, but is called simply шишче (shishche - "small skewer").
Chuanr (Chinese: 串; pinyin: chuàn), often referred to as "chua'r" in Pekingese and throughout the North, or kawap (كاۋاپ) in Uyghur, is a variation of kebab originating from the Uyghurs in the Western province of Xinjiang and a popular dish in Chinese Islamic cuisine. The dish has since spread across the rest of the country and become a popular street food.
Although the most traditional form of chuanr uses lamb or mutton, other types of meat, such as chicken, beef, pork, and seafood, may be used as well. Small pieces of meat are skewered and either roasted or deep-fried. Common spices and condiments include cumin called "ziran", pepper, sesame, and sesame oil.
During Chinese New Year, it is common to find fruit kebabs candied and covered with a hard candy sugar coating. At the famous Wángfǔjǐng in Beijing, it is very common to find many kinds of fruit kebabs of everything from bananas, strawberries, and seasonal Chinese fruits, as well as scorpions, squids, and various Japanese-flavored kebabs all year long.
Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food consisting of small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer. It may be served either on the skewer or in a pita sandwich with garnishes and sauces, or on a dinner plate, often with fried potatoes.
Gyros is a Greek dish similar to chicken kebab.
Ancient Hindu texts, such as Mahabharata, mentions a dish made of marinated game meats roasted on large, open fires. Modern day kebabs in India trace their origin to the influence of the Mughlai cuisine in India. Kebabs in India are more or less similar to most other kebab preparations along with their distinct taste, which can be credited to the use of Indian spices.
All the varieties such as sheesh, doner (known as shawarma), shammi, tikka, and other forms of roasted and grilled meats are savoured in India. Some popular kebabs are:
- Kakori kebab
- Shami kebab
- Kalmi kebab
- Kacche gosht ke chapli kebab
- Tunda kebab (prepared with pumpkin)
- Sambhali kebab
- Galawati kebab
- Boti kebab
- Hara bhara kebab
- Kathi kebab
- Reshmi kebab
- Lasoni kebab
- Chicken malai kebab
- Tikka kebab
- Tangdi kebab (tangdi meaning "leg of the chicken")
- Kaleji kebab
- Hariali chicken kebab
- Bihari kebab
- Soovar ki saanth (Wild boar pork belly kebabs from Rajputs of Rajasthan)
- Rajpooti soolah (Game meat-wild boar, deer & partridge barbecue kebabs made with a special "Kachari" (wild melon) sauce by Rajputs in Rajasthan)
Kabab (Persian: کباب), of which there are several distinct Persian varieties, is a national dish of Iran. Kebab may be served with either steamed, saffroned basmati or Persian rice (chelow kebab; Persian: چلو کباب) or with Persian naan. Iran has more than seven types of kebab, which form a significant part of the Iranian diet.
It is served with the basic Iranian meal accompaniments, in addition to grilled tomatoes on the side of the rice and butter on top of the rice. It is an old northern tradition (probably originating in Tehran) that a raw egg yolk should be placed on top of the rice as well, though this is strictly optional, and most restaurants will not serve the rice this way unless it is specifically requested. "Somagh", powdered sumac, is also made available and its use varies based on tastes to a small dash on the rice or a heavy sprinkling on both rice and meat, particularly when used with red (beef/veal/lamb) meat.
At Persian restaurants, the combination of one kabab barg and one kabab koobideh is typically called Soltani, meaning "sultan's feast". The traditional beverage of choice to accompany kebab is doogh, a sour yogurt drink with mint and salt.
In the old bazaar tradition, the rice (which is covered with a tin lid) and accompaniments are served first, immediately followed by the kebabs, which are brought to the table by the waiter, who holds several skewers in his left hand, and a piece of flat bread (typically nan-e lavash) in his right. A skewer is placed directly on the rice and while holding the kebab down on the rice with the bread, the skewer is quickly pulled out. With the two most common kebabs, barg and koobideh, two skewers are always served. In general, bazaar kebab restaurants only serve these two varieties, though there are exceptions.
Kabab Koobideh contains: ground meat, onion, salt, pepper, turmeric, and seasoning. These ingredients are mixed together until the mixture becomes smooth and sticky. One egg is added to help the mix stick together. The mixture is then pressed around a skewer. Koobideh Kabab is typically 18 to 20 centimeters (7–8 in) long.
Kabāb-e barg (Persian: کباب برگ) is a Persian style barbecued lamb, chicken or beef kebab dish. The main ingredients of Kabab Barg – a short form of this name – are fillets of beef tenderloin, lamb shank or chicken breast, onions and olive oil.
Marinade is prepared by the mixture of half a cup of olive oil, three onions, garlic, half teaspoon saffron, salt and black pepper. One kilogram of lamb is cut into 1 cm thick and 4–5 cm long pieces. It should be marinated overnight in refrigerator, and the container should be covered. The next day, the lamb is threaded on long, thin metal skewers. It is brushed with marinade and is barbecued for 5–10 minutes on each side. Kabab-e Barg
Jūje-kabāb (Persian: جوجهکباب) consists of pieces of chicken first marinated in minced onion and lemon juice with saffron then grilled over a fire. It is sometimes served with grilled tomato and pepper. Jujeh kabab is one of the most popular Persian dishes.
Kabab Bakhtiari is a combination of Jujeh Kabab (Chiken Kebab) and Kabab Barg (Meat Kebab) in a decussate form and its name comes from the Bakhtiyari people.
In the Levant and Iraq
Shawarma and other varieties of kebabs can be found at most restaurants representing this region. The preparation of Shawarma consists of chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats being placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and being grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments), shawarma also refers to a pita bread sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat.
Normally, the meat, after being cut from the spit, is pan-fried with onions and hot sauce then placed into a pita bread pocket before being filled with condiments such as tomatoes, mayonnaise, onion, and lettuce.
In Nepal it is a popular dish in Nepalese cuisine as well as Newa cuisine and known as Sekuwa. It is a meat roasted in a natural wood/log fire in a real traditional Nepalese country style. At first while the meat is still in its raw stage is mixed with homemade natural herbs and spices and other necessary ingredients. Sekuwa could be of pork, lamb, goat or chicken, or a mixture. Sekuwa is very popular in Nepal, especially in the Eastern Nepal and Kathmandu. Tarahara, a small town in Sunsari District of Koshi State in the Eastern Nepal could be called as the sekuwa capital of Nepal.
In Norway, the kebab was introduced by Pakistani and Turkish immigrants during the 1980s. The kebab has become a symbol of immigration from the Muslim world, and speaking Norwegian with an Arab accent or with a lot of words and expressions borrowed from the Pakistani, Turkish, Arabic, and Persian languages is sometimes referred to as Kebabnorsk (Kebab Norwegian).
The kebabs in Norway are commonly served in inexpensive fast-food shops selling both hamburgers and kebabs. The most common variety, called kebab i pita or often simply kebab, is a pita bread filled with chunks or shavings of finely ground meat, shredded lettuce, various other vegetables and liberal amounts of sauce. Sweet corn kernels, slices of fresh cucumber and sliced raw onion are very common ingredients, however some shops offer a much wider variety of vegetables. The sauces are usually varieties of creamy Salad dressing, sometimes supplemented with a Chili sauce if the customer prefers a spicy kebab. Common sauces include garlic dressing, curry dressing and a sauce reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing but with a deeper red color and spicier flavor featuring chili and garlic. The garlic dressing variety is usually served together with chili sauce.
A dürüm variety called kebabrull (kebab roll), where the kebab ingredients is wrapped in a thin bread and eaten in the same manner as a Burrito is also popular. Authentic kebab varieties with meat cooked and served on skewers are available in ethnic restaurants. A kebab made with Whale meat is available at the Inferno Metal Festival.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority in 2007 issued a warning about cheap kebabs. According to Verdens Gang they estimated that more than 80% of kebab shops in Oslo use illegally produced meat. It was warned that such meat could be dangerous to eat because it could contain salmonella or other bacteria, and that it could be connected to organised crime.
Pakistani cuisine is rich with different kebabs. Meat including beef, chicken, lamb and fish is used in kebabs. Some popular kebabs are:
- Bun kebab (Urdu: بن کباب)
- Chapli kebab (Urdu: چپلی کباب)
- Shami kebab (Urdu: شامی کباب)
- Adraki Murgh Kebab (Ginger Chicken Kabab)
- Bihari kebab (Urdu: بہاری کباب)
- Chicken kebab (Urdu: مرغ کباب)
- Dhaga kabab
- Fish kebab
- Fry kebab
- Gola kebab
- Kache Qeema kebab
- Lamb kebab (Urdu: کبابِ برہ گوشت)
- Pasanday (Urdu: پسندے)
- Peshawari kebab
- Reshmi kebab (Urdu: ریشمی کباب)
- Seekh kebab (Urdu: سيخ کباب)
- Tikka kebab (Urdu: تکہ کباب)
Before taking its modern form, as mentioned in Ottoman travel books of the 18th century, the doner used to be a horizontal stack of meat rather than vertical, probably sharing common ancestors with the Cağ Kebabı of the Eastern Turkish province of Erzurum.
In his family biography, İskender Efendi of 19th century Bursa writes that "he and his grandfather had the idea of roasting the lamb vertically rather than horizontally, and invented for that purpose a vertical mangal".
Since then, Hacı İskender is known as the inventor of Turkish döner kebab. With time, the meat took a different marinade, got leaner, and eventually took its modern shape. The Greek gyro, along with the similar Arab shawarma and Mexican taco al pastor, are derived from this dish.
Shish kebab (Şiş, pronounced [ʃiʃ], meaning "skewer" is a Turkish word.) It is a dish consisting of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled. Any kind of meat may be used; cubes of fruit or vegetables are often threaded on the spit as well. Typical vegetables include tomato, bell pepper, onions, and mushrooms.
Döner kebab, literally "rotating kebab" in Turkish, is sliced lamb, beef, or chicken, slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit. The Middle Eastern shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros are all derived from the Turkish döner kebab, which was invented in Bursa in the 19th century by a cook named Hacı İskender.
Döner kebab is most popularly served in pita bread, as it is best known, with salad, but is also served in a dish with a salad and bread or French fries on the side, or used for Turkish pizzas called lahmacun or "kebabpizza". Take-out döner kebab or shawarma restaurants are common in England and in many parts of Europe. Döner kebab is popular in many European countries, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
In parts of Europe, "kebab" usually refers to döner kebab in pita. The German-style döner kebab was supposedly invented by a Turkish immigrant in Berlin in the 1970s and became a popular German take-away food during the 1990s. It is almost exclusively sold by Turks and considered a Turkish specialty in Germany. Australian döner kebabs are usually served in wraps which are toasted before serving.
In England, kebabs or döner meat and chips are popularly eaten after a night out, representing a large part of nightlife culture. As a result, many kebab shops and vans will do their main business in the hours around closing time for local pubs and clubs (usually from 10 pm to 4 am). The same applies for Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavia, Hungary and Italy. It is therefore not uncommon to find similar late-night kebab vending shops in holiday-clubbing destinations such as Ibiza and Thailand.
In recent times, a variant of the Doner has become popular street food in Indian cities, especially Delhi, where finely shredded chicken from the rotating spit, is rolled up with mayonnaise and sour cream, often referred to locally as shawarma, enjoyed as a cheap snack.
Adana kebabı (or kıyma kebabı) is a long, hand-minced meat kebab mounted on a wide iron skewer and grilled over charcoal. It is generally "hot" or piquant. A "less hot" version is generally called urfa kebabı.
Steam kebab (Turkish Buğu kebabı) is a Turkish kebab dish which is prepared in an earthenware casserole. The casserole's lid is sealed with dough in order to cook the meat in its own juices. The dish is prepared with pearl onions, garlic, thyme, and other spices. In Tekirdağ, it is served with cumin; in Izmir, it is served with mastic.
A dish from Central Anatolia and the Mid-Western Black Sea region, consisting of a mixture of meat and vegetables cooked in a clay pot or jug over fire (testi means jug in Turkish). The pot is sealed with bread dough or foil and is broken when serving.
Kebab Kenjeh (کنجه کباب) is a meat, specifically and traditionally lamb, dish in the Middle East. Originating in Iran and later adopted in Asia Minor kebab Kenjeh is now found worldwide. The meat is cooked with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and served with rice, grilled tomato, and raw onion.
- Kebab karaz (cherry kebab in Arabic): meatballs (lamb) along with cherries and cherry paste, pine nuts, sugar and pomegranate molasses. It is considered one of Aleppo's main dishes especially among Armenians.
- Kebab khashkhash: rolled lamb or beef with chili pepper paste, parsley, garlic and pine nuts.
- Kebab Hindi: rolled meat with tomato paste, onion, capsicum and pomegranate molasses.
- Kebab kamayeh: soft meat with truffle pices, onion and various nuts.
- Kebab siniyye (tray kebab in Arabic): lean minced lamb in a tray added with chili pepper, onion and tomato.
Kakori kebab is a South Asian kebab attributed to the city of Kakori in Uttar Pradesh, India. There is much folklore about this famous kebab that takes its name from a hamlet called Kakori on the outskirts of Lucknow.
One such story says that the kakori kebab was created by the Nawab of Kakori, Syed Mohammad Haider Kazmi, who, stung by the remark of a British officer about the coarse texture of the kebabs served at dinner, ordered his rakabdars (gourmet cooks) to evolve a more refined seekh kebab. After ten days of research, they came up with a kebab so soft and so juicy it won the praise of the very British officer who had scorned the Nawab. The winning formula that his rakabdars came upon included mince obtained from no other part but the raan ki machhli (tendon of the leg of mutton), khoya, white pepper and a mix of powdered spices.
Chapli/Chappal kebab is a patty made from beef or chicken mince, onions, tomatoes, green chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, black pepper, lemon juice or promegranate seeds, eggs, cornstarch and coriander leaves. Chapli kebab is a common dish in Pashtun cuisine and a popular meal in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern parts of India. The kebab originates from north western Pakistan. Mardan is famous for chapli kabab not only locally but also internationally.
Chapli kebab is prepared flat and round and generally served with naan.
Burrah kebab is another kebab from Mughlai Cuisine, fairly popular in South Asia. This is usually made of goat meat, liberally marinated with spices and charcoal grilled.
Kalmi kebab a popular snack in Indian cuisine. The dish is made by marinating chicken drumsticks and placing them in a tandoor. Various kinds of freshly ground Indian spices are added to the yogurt used for the marination of the chicken. When prepared, the drumsticks are usually garnished with mint leaves and served with onions and Indian bread.
The Galouti kebab is a dish from South Asia, made of minced goat, gaur or buffalo meat and green papaya, traditionally used to tenderize the meat. After mixing with herbs and spices, the very finely ground meat is shaped into patties and fried in pure ghee until it is browned. Like Lucknowi biryani and Kakori kebab, it is a hallmark of Awadhi cuisine.
Many leading Indian hotel chains have taken to popularising the Awadhi food tradition, with the Galouti kebab being a pièce de résistance. The home of this kebab is Lucknow. It is most famously had at the almost iconic eatery "Tundey Miyan" at Old Lucknow.
Legend has it that the galawati kebab was created for an aging Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow who lost his teeth, but not his passion for meat dishes. Galawati means "melt in your mouth" and was perfect for the toothless Nawab who continued savouring this until his last days. The original recipe that brought many a smile on the Nawab's face, albeit toothless, and many a sigh of satisfaction, is supposed to have more than 100 aromatic spices.
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