July 31, 2011

Kabab Koobideh - Persian Grilled Ground Lamb On Skewers

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, کباب کوبیده 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

 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


  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.


July 16, 2011

Dami Baghali -Turmeric Rice With Yellow Fava Beans and Caramelized Onions

دمی باقالی/باقلا Dami baghali is a combination of rice and dried yellow fava beans cooked together slowly over low heat. The result is a flavorful rice and beans dish that is best served with a bowl of mast-o-khiar, salad Shirazi or torshi (my favorite). Nothing beats having this delicious home-cooked meal on a summer day with your family. Dami baghali is one of my husband's favorite dishes and he is usually the one who buys the fava beans for this dish or anything that resembles them! Not too long ago though he mistakenly bought lupini beans instead of fava beans from an Italian market. I still haven't figured out what to do with all these beans and how to cook them.

There are different recipes for this rice and beans dish and the difference basically depends on one's tastes and preferences. Some would add a tablespoon of tomato paste or fresh chopped tomatoes. Some serve it with fried eggs (sunny side up) and some people prefer it hot. It may also be served with lamb shanks. The following recipe is how I like to make and serve dami baghali in our home, simple with no meat and with caramelized onions on top. I also like to use equal portions of rice and fava beans. However, it is more common to use anywhere from 1/2 cup to two cups more rice than fava beans. Instead of increasing the amount of rice you may reduce the fava beans to 1 1/2 cups in this recipe if you like.

Dami Baghali -Turmeric Rice With Yellow Fava Beans and Caramelized Onions

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups dried yellow skinless fava beans
2 cups white long grain rice
2 large yellow onions, one onion diced finely, one sliced thinly
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
A pinch of red pepper (optional)
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil or olive oil

  1. Rinse and soak the beans in 4 cups of cool water for a couple of hours. Drain. 
  2. Rinse the rice with cool water and soak in 4 cups of  water with 2 tablespoons of salt for about an hour before cooking. Drain.
  3. Heat about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, saute until lightly golden brown. Add turmeric, stir well. Add the beans, cumin and red pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Stirring intermittently.
  4. Add the rice to the pot and pour enough water to cover the rice and the beans about an inch above the rice. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel to absorb the moisture. Cover the pot and cook for about 45-50 minutes on low heat.
  5. In the meantime saute the remaining sliced onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the onions become soft and transparent, reduce the heat to low and let them caramelize slowly.
Serve rice on a platter, spoon the caramelized onions over top and serve with mast-o-khiar, salad shirazi or torshi.


It would be nice to have love reciprocated 
one sided love is trouble
if Majnun's heart was filled with maddening love
Layli's heart was brimming with more intense love
~Poem by:  Baba Taher