Kabab Koobideh - Persian Grilled Ground Lamb On Skewers


I just couldn't let my third summer of blogging pass by without posting a recipe for the internationally-known Iranian dish: kabab koobideh/kabob kubide. In addition to this popular kabab there's also the well known kabab barg (grilled skewered lamb tenderloin) and the delectable joojeh kabab (grilled chicken) as well as many other types of kababs, which are served with chelow, the parboiled and steamed rice.


In our home, grilling has become one of the rituals and pleasures of the summer, but usually by mid-October the gas grill gets cleaned, covered and put away for the rest of the year until the trees bloom once again. On the other hand, growing up in Iran it was always grilling season! Kababs were made all year-round, regardless of the weather conditions. Our barbeque grill was an old, overused but sturdy rectangular manghal (portable charcoal grill) left in the far away corner of the yard year-round. But on kabab days, in a matter of minutes my mother would bring the manghal to the center of the yard, place some zoghal (wood charcoal) in it and start the fire. When the coals looked hot and glowing she would place the kabab skewers on the fire. Kababs, like any other meal, were made solely by my mother from start to finish. She had the required ease and speed in preparing the meat, fanning the charcoal using a bad-bezan (straw hand fan) and at the same time frequently turning the skewers over so the meat wouldn't fall off. Then the cooked kababs and grilled tomatoes would be placed in between layers of fresh taftoon (flat bread) and immediately taken to the dining room table where the aromatic rice, small bowl of sumac, fresh basil leaves, quartered raw onions, yogurt and a pitcher of ice-cold doogh (yogurt drink) were already placed.


Traditionally, koobideh is made with ground lamb. However, ground lean beef or a combination of the two could be used too. This is the kind of kabab that needs meat with some fat on it. Koobideh is basically made with very few ingredients consisting of ground meat, grated onion, salt and pepper. Adding a teaspoon of sumac, turmeric, saffron or any other ingredient is totally optional and depends on one's individual tastes and preferences. I'm not a big fan of using (joosh-e shirin) baking soda in cooking but a few times I have taken my friend's advice and added a teaspoon of baking soda to tenderize the meat mixture and I liked the result. I like to buy the meat on the same day that I'm grilling but if you decide to do your shopping a day in advance it's better to prepare the mixture and keep it in the refrigerator. Kababs are always served with grilled tomatoes but grilling other vegetables such as onions, hot green peppers or corn are optional. Serving this dish with raw eggs on top, as was common in the past, is no longer advisable due to health reasons.


Kabab Koobideh - Persian Grilled Ground Lamb On Skewers

Ingredients:
 Serving: 8 skewers

2 pounds finely ground lamb, (grind it 2-3 times)
1 large onion, grated, squeeze out the juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

For Grilled Vegetables:

4 medium firm and ripe tomatoes, cut in halves
2 medium onions, quartered *optional
8 hot green peppers *optional

 Method:

  1. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well with your hands until the mixture becomes well blended and sticky. Set aside at room temperature for at least an hour.
  2. Leave a bowl of water next to you on the counter for dipping your hands to prevent stickiness while placing the lamb on the skewers.
  3. You may divide the ground lamb into equal portions in advance or take a handful and shape into an oval and place on a flat and long metal skewer and press onto the skewer, making sure that both ends are sticking as well. The thickness and the length of the kababs depend on your preferences. When all the skewers are done, set aside for at least half an hour.
  4. Turn on the gas grill and make sure it's very hot and then one by one place the skewers on the grill. Turn each skewer over quickly and continue to do so until the lamb is browned on both sides and well cooked.
  5. Place the vegetables directly on the hot grill or place them on the thin metal or wooden skewers and grill over the flame.
Set the table in advance, place all the necessary condiments you would need for the meal, serve the rice on a platter and then bring the kabab platter to the table with the grilled vegetables.

Enjoy!

45 comments:

  1. Nice bright colors, looks very inviting. I remember eating these sometime ago. Brings back good memories

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  2. I can't believe that's homemade koobideh...it looks amazing! congratulations for three years of blogging, you have one of the best collection of Persian recipes. That carpet looks very shomal to me:))

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  3. salam,

    Merci pour les bonnes recettes que vous partagez avec nous, cela me rappelle les plats que je mangeais lorsque j'étais à Resht.
    salam
    sarvenaz

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  4. Yummy! What a great koubideh! Looking at these pictures makes me so hungry.:-)

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  5. Ramadan Kareem, Azita. It's pleasure to read your story behind the foods. Yesterday I tried to make kabab koobideh with the same ingredients and method like yours *i got the recipe from our persian friend*, but when time to grill..all the meat falling over. do you have any idea, what that's happen ?

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  6. Thank you all for your kind words.

    @Fitri, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that the meat doesn't fall off the skewers:

    1- Use fresh meat with some fat.
    2- Grind the meat at least twice.
    3- Squeeze out the grated onion and discard the juice.
    4- Mix all the ingredients very well until it becomes like a sticky ball.
    5- Leave the mixture at room-temperature for at least an hour.
    6- Press the meat onto the flat metal skewers and make sure the ends are sticking too. Let them adhere to the shape by leaving them to rest for at least half an hour on the counter.
    7- Grill has to be hot. You want to grill the kababs on high heat and quickly.
    8- Once all the skewers are placed on the grill start turning them over one by one. You'll need to repeat this until both sides are browned evenly and well done to your liking.
    9- If after following all of these steps the meat falls off the skewer, you may add 2-3 tablespoons of dried bread crumbs even though this is not a common practice in kabab making.

    Please do give kabab koobideh another try and let me know how it turns out.

    Best wishes,
    Azita

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  7. Azita joun, I had to refer to your blog from mine that people see how to make a real kabob.:-) hope you don't mind.

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  8. Thank you so much, Visda jan!

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  9. First time here... what a gorgeous space! Especially the koobideh looks absolutely stunning...will be back for more:)

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  10. Azita Joon, it has been ages- hope you are having a really lovely summer. i love this dish- have never made it at home as there are so many gorgeous Persian restaurants and take-away places serving it- but it is always nice to have a recipe for it. yours is lovely. x shayma

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  11. Thank you so much for the tips,Azita. I print out your tips already to make sure, no more fail :) *seem, i didn't do right steps no surpraise they all fallen a part

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  12. It's so good to see you here, Shayma joon. I do hope that you have a wonderful and relaxing summer. This is one of those dishes that is nice to order at a good restaurant with your loved ones and have it served to you, hassle free.xx

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  13. What a great site! looks amazing. Sanaz from NZ Baking Diary

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  14. Sanaz, thank you for your kind words and for visiting my blog.

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  15. This is beautiful.... Makes me hesitate to put the fork in it!

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  16. Okay so I've been scrolling among your recipes for maybe an hour now? and I'm speechless lol I love them and I can't wait to cook them all! Amazing blog, thanks for sharing these lovely recipes with us.

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  17. Yoko, thank you for visiting.
    Sarah, thanks so much for visiting my blog and for your kind comments!:)

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  18. My Dear Azita, thank you so much for the tips! it was work!!!! *I did Dora Dancing :)* I can't belive i made the kabab koobideh for iftar with friends, I was so nervouse because if i failed no time to change menu LOL, but everything just perfect. I was so exciting and forget to take a picture. But I will make another time and re-post to my blog with your permition off course.
    Again thank you so much..

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  19. Thank you, Fitri jan! I'm so glad this recipe worked for you and you enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading your post.:)

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  20. looks amazing and wow your mum grilled it as well

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  21. oh masha`allah that looks so good .... love your blog

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  22. Great photos! Amazing how simple the ingredients are but it is one of the best dishes to eat. I haven't tried making kabob with lamb yet..I will have to try. I love ordering lamb kabob at restaurants.

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  23. This looks beautiful! Usually we just get from restaurants but I will try to make it myself one of these days only with beef (I don’t like lamb).

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  24. Look delicious, can't wait to make them. If I want to make the chicken koobideh, do I use the same spices?

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    Replies
    1. In addition to the above ingredients, you may also want to add about 2 tablespoons of liquid saffron, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of red pepper.

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  25. This may be a silly question- how do you finely grind the meat? Do you use a food processor?

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    1. Jonny, you can use a meat grinder, a food processor or ask your local butcher to grind the meat twice or fine.

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  26. Oh, it's lovely!
    I cannot believe kubideh could be made so easily!
    Thank you so much!
    We have something similar called seekh kebab in India.

    Amay

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  27. Thank you so much for your recipes! I just discovered your blog after googling khoreshe karafs because I'd forgotten the parsley/mint ratio and my mother didn't answer her phone. Usually I just call her so it's good to know you're here too! Sometimes when I make kabab koobideh it gets a bitter taste. What causes that and how can I avoid it? Am I marinating it in onion too long or using too much onion?

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    Replies
    1. Saman,For kabab, I use a large onion for 2 lbs of ground meat. Too much onion or marinating it for too long will ruin the flavor. You might want to adjust the flame of your grill if possible and be careful not to blacken the surface of the kababs which may char the meat and make it bitter. Turn them quickly and frequently at first so that the meat will hold and not get burned, then go slowly and longer so that it would cook well. Also, if using turmeric you may want to reduce the amount too. Let me know how it goes.

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  28. Beautiful! I LOVE your blog; thank you for such wonderful instructions on all my favorite, sentimental Persian foods!
    My Persian friend whispered this secret (because such a shortcut goes against the normally beautiful Persian presentation), but she said when she is in a real hurry, and cooking just for her family, she will sometimes make this in a 9" x13" pan in one big sheet, cook it under the broiler, & then cut it into strips. It's worked well for me. I appreciate the shortcut when I don't have time to do a grand feast. I don't have the skill or dedication of your mother....all that work on her own! Amazing! My dinners tend to fall apart when I try to do too much. Lol

    Your blog is a true treasure for me. My heartfelt gratitude!

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  29. There's something unique about the flavor of grilled tomatoes and saffron with turmeric. I love all the kababs but the gret Persian rice and grilled tomatoes, my wath mouters for the taste , nom nom nom

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  30. Salam wonderful blog I was searching for recipes for the kabab and many recipes I found they add egg and leave the meat overnight in the fridge. Is this necessary?

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    1. Salam, thank you! It's not necessary to leave the meat overnight in the fridge. Also, there's no need to add eggs to the mixture.

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  31. Hello Azita

    Great blog and thanks for your time. I would like more detail on this subject if possible. I ate a lovely kebab at Mahdi Restuarant, Hammersmith (London) the other day. The koobideh was fluffly, very juicy and had a nice smoky / charcoal flavour to it.

    After attempting koobideh many times, I can't seem to create the juicy, fluffy and smoky flavour my taste buds crave. Do you have any ideas?

    I've tried the meat:fat ratio at 80:20 which helps it stick, grinding 3 times, grated (drained) onion, salt & pepper and using meat from the rib area of lamb. Am I missing something? The koobideh at this rteatuarant was fluffy, not dense. It was that juicy I forced my spoon against it and caught juice. Are they adding oil or something? I presume it's flame grilled not just turned over an intense heat?

    Any thoughts?

    Best wishes

    Kurosh

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    Replies
    1. Kurosh, thank you! You may want to try adding a teaspoon of baking soda (joosh-e shirin)to koobideh to tenderize it. Also, don't overwork and overcook the meat.

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  32. Thanks for the tips, Azita. Should the soda be added with the other ingredients or worked in 5 mins before forming on skewers (other sources state this)? Is 1 hour an adequate time for the meat to become tenderised?

    Lastly, when grinding the meat for consistency, what size attachments do you use? I.e, fine, medium or large? Does this make a difference to the texture and final outcome?

    Thanks for your time!

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    1. First, mix all the ingredients and then add the baking soda in the last few minutes and combine well. You can leave it for a couple of hours to tenderize. I use the fine size attachment so that the koobideh will have a softer texture.

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    2. Thanks. Do you baste the koobideh at any stage? If so, what's the ingredients for the basting sauce?

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    3. You can baste the koobideh 2-3 times during grilling. The meat becomes more juicy and flavorful when basted more toward the end. Ingredients: 2 tablespoons melted butter/extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime/lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

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    4. I made koobideh today and it turned out very juicy. I noticed a skin type layer develop - probably caused by the baking soda. Have you experienced this?

      I'll try less baking soda next time.

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    5. I rarely use baking soda and if I do I usually use about a 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per pound of meat.

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    6. They sometimes serve this wit a sauce that is red and a spicy, i think it contains conflour, dried parsley, black pepper. I'm not sure if you have come accross this but would love to know how to make to go with the kebabs

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