Home-made shish kebab

We had planned a barbecue, but rain stopped play, and we ended grilling these. Better on the barbecue though. Don’t forget to marinade the ingredients the day before.


  • 750g good quality local beef
  • 3 green peppers
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 8 Spring onions
  • 8 close cup mushrooms
  • 8 bayleaves
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh oregano or marjoram, or 1 heaped tsp dried
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • skewers


  • Cut the beef into large cubes, about 2 inches, 5cm across. Cut the tomatoes in half, and cut the peppers into large squares.
  • Make a marinade as follows: slice the onion, and combine with the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and crushed garlic. Put the kebab ingredients into the marinade in a large sealed container, and leave in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours. If you are using wooden skewers, dampen them and put them in the freezer overnight.
  • The next day, set the barbecue volunteer to lighting the charcoal at least 30 minutes before you are due to cook. Let the charcoal burn until they form a hot bed of glowing coals. Meanwhile, thread the ingredients onto the skewers, alternating beef cubes with other ingredients, and dividing them equally.
  • Cook the kebabs on the barbecue for about 5 minutes on each side, total cooking time around 10 minutes. You are not aiming to get the meat any more than ‘medium’. Baste the kebabs as they are cooking with the remaining marinade.

Serve with nan bread or pitta bread, side salad, and greek-style plain yoghurt.

Kabab-e kubideh – Minced meat kebab

When I was much younger, I lived in Teheran, and we used to have barbecues when we were out and about – often my dad would barbecue chicken, but we’ve had some amazing meals. We had a sort of portable barbecue, and some rush fans to get the charcoal glowing hot.

I made these kebabs under the electric grill at home, but they would taste so much better cooked under an open sky, the sun throbbing in the sky, with mountains on the horizon and an icy river flowing through the rocks below.


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1kg beef mince, or 50/50 beef and lamb
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
  • A pinch of saffron, ground in a pestle and mortar and dissolved in a tsp of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Chop the onion and garlic, and put it in the blender with the lime juice and blitz it.
  • Put the meat, onion/garlic/lime, salt, pepper, saffron and baking soda in a large bowl. Kneed the mixture with your hands for 15 minutes to make a paste
  • Divide the meat into eight or so lumps, and press this around the skewers. The skewers should be flat, so that the kebab doesn’t spin round. We used some stainless steel strips cut into 18 inch lengths. Mold the meat around the skewers. Once they are ready, set aside in a cool place.
  • If you are using a barbecue, this should be lit and burning for around half an hour before cooking, so that the charcoal is glowing hot. We had the grill set to high.
  • In a small pan, melt the butter and combine with a dash of lime and a pinch of salt. A little cayenne pepper could also be added here.
  • Brown the kebabs quickly on each side, so that the outer layer is firm; this is to stop the kebabs falling apart.
  • Baste with the butter and lime, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Serve with flat bread, and salad. The kebab can be garnished with lime juice or sumac powder. The best salad would be yoghurt, spring onions, herbs and garlic, perhaps with some walnuts.