Kebaps 101

Filed in Gather Food Essential by on January 4, 2009 0 Comments

Kebaps 101


Kebap (kabob, kebab, kobab, kibop, keepab, etc.)  means “roasted pr grilled.” Most commonly it refers to lamb, beef or mutton grilleded in some form. I may also be used to refer to poultry, camel, horse, pork, fish or even nuts that are roasted/grilled.

Perhaps the most familiar kebap is shish kebap (shishkabob) wich consists of cubes of lamb roasted on skewers. To make it best kebaps you will need Turkish free-range lamb, a true charcoal grill not a gas-fired grill combined with the unique knack of singing the outside of the meat while the inside of each cuberemains soft, juicy & succulent.

Doner Kebap is lamb roasted on a vertical spit then sliced off when done. We in the west know this as “Gyros” pronounced as “yeeorhs or “heros” not the incorrect “gearros or  gyros!” This type of kebap when laid on a bed of chopped flat bread then topped with savory tomato sauce & brown butter, it becomes Iskender or Bursa Kebap.

Izgara Kofte, yet another tyoe of kebap, is ground lamb mixed with egg, rice or bread crumbs along with spices then formed into longish meatballs around a skewer then grilled.

Izkender Kebap also called Cop Shish is 3 or 4 small chunks of lamb along with a chunk of fat, grilled on small wooden skewers. This type of kebap is a specialty of the Aegean region, especially to the south of Izmir.

Shashlik is chunks of lamb interspersed with tomatoes, onions & peppers/pimientos. It is the most common kebap found in the former Soviet Union. Any good Turkish chef will cook the meat & vegetables on separate skewers because their cooking times are quite different.

Kebaps are addictive. I have enjoyed them literally all ver Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, India & eastern Europe. My all time favorites are to be found in Turkey. Try the following recipes if you care to do so and ENJOY!




Sirloin Shish Kabob
Categories: Meat, Beef, Ethnic, Turkish, BBQ
Yield: 4 servings

Salt & pepper to taste
2 c cherry tomatoes
1 ea onion cubed to 2″
1 lb sirloin cubed 1″ – 1 1/22″
3 tb olive oil

Thread onto skewers then grill until meat is to desired doneness.
Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
Toss all together to coat with oil.
Add sirloin, onions & cherry tomatoes.
Measure olive oil into a shallow baking dish.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 deg-F.

ORIGIN: Ali Burkopi, Edirne-Turkey, circa 1996

Topkapi Lamb Kebaps

Categories: Lamb, BBQ, Ethnic, Meat, Turkish
Yield: 4 servings

1 1/2 lb Lamb boneless cubed 1″


1 c  Olive oil
1 ea garlic clove minced
1 c Honey
1 tb Nutmeg ground
1 tb Cinnamon ground
1 tb Cloves ground
1 tb Black pepper ground
1 c Port wine

Combine marinade ingredients in a saucepan over med-low heat.
Stir until honey is well mixed.
Remove from
heat & allow to cool for 8-10 mins.
Place lamb cubes into a large casserole dish.
Pour cooled marionade over the meat.
Cover casserole then refrigerate for 8-16 hrs.
Thread cubes on skewers then grill over coals until done.

ORIGIN: Mussam Blakash, Istanbul-Turkey, circa 1999

Hazzan’s Kebap Marinade
Categories: Ethnic, Sauce, BBQ, Turkish
Yield: 1 batch

2 tb lemon juice
1/2 c  olive oil
1 ts garlic minced
1/2 ts cumin
1/4 ts turmeric or more if desired
1/2 ts ground red pepper or cayenne

Mix all ingredients together in a glass or cermaic bowl.
Pour over meats, cover then refrigerate for 2-6 hrs. prior to grilling.

ORIGIN: Hazzan Lekemi, Istanbul-Turkey, circa 1995

Modern Turkish Kebap Marinade
Categories: Ethnic, Sauce, BBQ, Meat, Turkish
Yield: 3 1/2 cups

1 1/2 c  sunflower oil
3/4 c  soy sauce
1/4 c  worcestershire sauce
salt to taste)
3 tb chopped fresh parsley
1 ts ground black pepper
1/2 c  red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tb fresh minced garlic
1/3 c  teriyaki sauce

ORIGIN: Keleel Mushan, Istanbul-Turkey, circa 1998

Ashkenazi Kebap Marinade
Categories: Ethnic, Sauce, BBQ, Jewish, Turkey
Yield: 1 batch

1 1/2 c  cron oil
1 c  soy sauce
2 Tb dry mustard
1 1/2 ts parsley flakes
1 ts pepper
1/2 c  red wine vinegar
1 ea clove garlic crushed
1/2 ts black pepper ground
1/3 c  lemon juice
1/2 c  honey

Mix all ingredients together in a galss or cermaic bowl.
Pour over meat.
Cover then refrigerate for 4-12 hrs.
Use to baste meats while grilling.

ORIGIN: Ari Levin, Edirne-Turkey, circa 1993

American-Turkish Kebap Marinade
Categories: Ethnic, Sauce, BBQ, Meat
Yield: 1 batch

2/3 c  olive oil
1/2 c  lemon juice
2 Tb Lawrys season salt
1/4 c  catsup
1/2 ts black pepper ground
1 ea clove garlic minced
1 ts hot sauce

Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl.
Pour over meat.
Cover then refirgerate for 8-12 hrs.
Use to baste meat while grilling.

ORIGIN: Les Rustanik, Hempstead-NY, circa 1997

Doc’s Kebap Marinade

Categories: BBQ, Meat, Sauce
Yield: 1 batch

2/3 c  Worcestershire sauce
2/3 c  Teriaki sauce
1/2 c Red wine dry
1 ts Black pepper
1 ts Garlic cloves minced
1 tb Onion flakes
1  ts Tabasco sauce
2 ts Crushed red peppers
3 ts Sesame seeds
1 ts Nutmeg ground

Mix all ingredients together in a large glass or ceramic bowl.
Pour over meat then refrigerate over night.
Baste meat while grilling.

ORIGIN: Dr. Donald Houston, Tampa-FL, circa 1990

Izmiri Kebap Marinade
Categories: Ethnic, Turkish, BBQ, Sauce
Yield: 2 1/2 cups

4 ea shallots minced
2 tb dried thyme leaves
6 tb dark brown sugar packed
1/2 c  soy sauce
5 tb Worcestershire sauce
3 tb balsamic vinegar
2/3 c  sunflower or corn oil

Combine all ingredients ina  glass or ceramic bowl.
Place in heavy-duty zip-top bag or glass container with tight fitting lid.
Add meats then seal container.
Place in refrigerator then marinate 8-12 hrs.
Use as a basting sauce while grilling.

ORIGIN: Kesi Bakashi, Izmir-Turkey, circa 1998

Khan’s Pomegranate Kebap Marinade
Categories: Kazakh, Ethnic, BBQ, Sauce
Yield: 2 cups

1 c  Pomegranate syrup
2/3 c  Olive oil
2 tb Lemon juice fresh
3 ts Salt
1/2 ts Pepper
3 ea Garlic cloves minced

Combine pomegranate syrup, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper & garlic.
Add meat then mix well to coat meat.
Seal container.
Refrigerate at least 6-12 hrs.
Use to baste meat while grilling.

*NOTE: While this is used most often with lamb it is an excellent marinade fior beef, pork, venison,
horse & poultry.

ORIGIN: Dr. Tarik Gulanaev, Almaty-Kazakhstan, circa 1995

Copyright 2009-2013 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not bepublished, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.



About the Author ()

Viet Nam vet with the usual baggage but mine is now packed away. Public health specialist & medical anthropologist have worked all over the globe, most recent work since 1988 in the former Soviet Union (now the CIS/NIS) & based out of Flo

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