The World of Kabob - Why Does Persian Kabob Taste Different Than Middle-Eastern Kabob?
I love a good chicken or lamb kabob - the kind you find at a good Middle Eastern restaurant - Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, whatever.
Lately, I have been eating kabob at Persian restaurants and I find I don't like it all. I assume it must be prepared differently than Middle Eastern-style kabobs. For one thing, at least for chicken kabobs, the Persian ones are a different shape - flat and elongated, rather than a chunky square. But it is more than the shape, the Persian kabobs just taste different. I assume it is a question of different spices and marinades than the ones traditionally used in Middle Eastern cooking.
So anyone know the difference in how kabobs are made? I can't quite put my finger on why I don't like the Persian ones. Either there is a spice there I don't like, or I spice I do like from the Middle Eastern kabobs that is missing in the Persian ones. Also, I'm wondering if perhaps they baste the Persian kabobs in butter - they somehow taste "richer" to me than the style of kabob I like.
Persian jujeh (chicken) kabob is not going to have cumin or coriander or any of those other spices. It will traditionally have saffron, onions, lemon juice, salt/pepper, and olive oil. Persian cooking generally doesn't use the same spices as the other middle eastern countries - its mostly a lot of garlic, onion, turmeric and saffron plus lots of dried herbs like fenugreek and dill.
I recently bookmarked these recipes for Jujeh Kebab with the plan to try to replicate the kebabs from my favorite Persian restaurant. Butter, grated onion juice, lemon juice and saffron seem to be the common ingredients.
Okay I'll let you in on a secret, 'it's baking soda'. Here's how you make kabob if you're going to grill on a kabob stick and in order to keep the meat from falling off you'll need no more than a 85% ground beef which means the other 15% is the 'fat' the other stuff...In a food processor grate 1 large onion first, then add salt, pepper (to your taste)1/4 teaspoon saffron, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 lb. ground beef, (you can use chicken, turkey, lamb).Mix it all together for about 3 minutes. (If you can't find saffron or don't want to purchase this 'costly' spice you can substitute with sumac. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for 20 minutes before putting on your kabob sticks. Then grill. Any internatural will sale sumac. Sadaf makes and packages all the middle eastern spices. Hope this helps.
When I started grilling kabob the meat kept falling off the stick so I wrapped with string (kite string) the fat keeps the string from burning. It took us a few years to figure this out but believe me when I say, 'This is the real thing'. P/S: I travel to Persia "Iran" every two years.And have taken cooking classes there.
I am Persian and i live in Tehran and i have to say If you eat kebab (Kabab) in Nayeb Restaurant which it has originally in Iran-Tehran but there is Restaurant in US Never Forget what Delicious Kebab you Eat, But if you come to Iran-Tehran (First I have to say Welcome)
take plan to go to Shamshiri Restaurant (which located In Tehran Bazaar) and Nayeb Originally Restaurant Which it is Better Than Us`s one.If you need something in Tehran Mail me:NkarimiDorabati@yahoo.com
I don't know what makes them different, but I would agree in noticing a difference in flavor. To me, Persian and Afghan are pretty close in flavor and that several others, from Turkish to Syrian are different.
Then of course you have Pakistani and Indian as well as North African. And then there is shashlik from Poland.
Is it time to eat yet?
Hmm. I wouldn't be surprised about the butter if that's what it turns out to be. To me, much Persian food tastes much milder than food from surrounding countries. I know they rely on a wide range of spices, but they tend to be subtler than say, Indian food typically uses. If you're in L.A. I would say try Shamshiri Grill on Westwood before you give up - it might just be that the restaurants you've gone to aren't that great. Also - try dusting the kabob and rice with the reddish powder they have on the table often, sumac... that makes all the difference.
Yes, I've tried Shamshiri - only tried chicken kabob, not meat, but it was not to my taste. I pine for two late great kabob places in L.A. - one the Green Olive, which recently closed on Wilshire (not sure of the nationality of the people who ran the place, but they made great kabob) and Alladin which closed a couple of years ago when they tore the ABC Entertainment Center down, and I believe was run either by Lebanese or Syrians.A nice family run place - I remember they wanted to stay in Century City, but couldn't find a lease. Nothing fancy, but just good honest kabob
There must be a way to reconstruct Middle Eastern kabob and the Persian variety and assay the differences.. It has got to be the spices and the marinades.
By the way, interesting article in the Los Angeles times yesterday on all the Turks who have brought kabob to Germany, so now it is almost German food.
So do you dislike them across all Persian restaurants or one particular restaurant?
I am SO far from any expert, since I have only recently been interested in Persian food. However, it seems that some Persian kebabs are marinated in olive oil. Would the spice you are identifying be saffron? That's the only other difference maybe.
Gee, who knew there were so many type of kebabs
Persian Joojeh Kabab
Turkish Shish Kebab
I really haven't liked the kabobs at any of the various Persian restaurants where I have tried them.
I think you might be on to something with the saffron - perhaps it's the saffron taste I dislike in Persian kabob. I'm also wondering if the Middle Eastern kabobs perhaps have spices like coriander or cumin that are omitted in the Persian version of kabob.
Don't know for sure. Looking up recipes, a lot of the Middle-Eastern kabobs didn't rely on much except meat, maybe a little salt/pepper and grilling. A few used corriander and cumin ... but so did a few Persian versions. Sometimes things like mint or tumeric (mostly Indian).
You did give me a new little food project though. Now I'm going to explore the world of kabobs and pay attention to the differences.
Back to Persian, do you like the type with ground meat?
It is always tricky to be definitive because the foods ebbed and flowed across the region as empires rose and fell. However, there do seem to be a few styles of seasoning for meat kebabs: either cinnamon; or allspice; or cumin and coriander. I am sorry I can't say which one is typically Persian.