One of the reasons we love food is the endless variety of flavors that are available around the world. Different cuisines all manage to bring the same base ingredients together in slightly different ways to bring new twists to dishes that may otherwise be…well…boring.
These Perisan Beef and Lamb Kabobs take grilled ground beef (and lamb) and season them slightly differently than we typically would in America. They also are cooked in a slightly different way than we normally think of cooking ground beef on the grill. The end results are delicious and just different enough than our day-to-day fare to make ground beef interesting and exciting.
In America, we usually think of kabobs as solid chunks of meat, vegetables, and / or fruit threaded on a skewer and then grilled. However, in many other parts of the world ground (or minced) meat is formed into log shapes, then placed on a stick, and grilled. Using ground meat instead of steak for the kabobs is much more affordable and opens up more flavoring options. Give it a try!
Can you provide a little background on this recipe?
I am not an expert on Persian or Iranian food. I just like trying new foods and browse the internet looking for new recipes to try. I found a side dish recipe from New York Times cooking (more on that later) that used seasonal produce I had and wanted to use, so I looked for entrees that would complete a Persian meal.
This recipe, known as Kabob Koobideh in Persian popped up in my searches and looked delicious. I learned that “koobideh” comes from a Persian word meaning “slamming” which refers to the style in which the meat is prepared – placing the meat on a flat stone and then smashing it with a wooden mallet. It’s then cooked on a wide skewer and grilled. Lamb, beef, or a mixture of both are traditionally used for the kabobs (that’s why we named this recipe beef and lamb kabobs 😉) and the meat is allowed to marinate a bit before grilling.
The combination of sumac and turmeric used to season the meat provides a distinctly Persian flavor, while the garlic, onion, salt, and pepper give the meat a familiar enough flavor to not make these beef and lamb kabobs off-putting to the culinarily unadventurous.
Here’s a quick note on the name of the recipe: we are calling this meal “Persian” instead of Iranian, because most of the searching I did for the recipe indicate that this recipe comes from the Persian ethnic regions of Iran. The country used to be known as Persia, which is why much Iranian food gets lumped in as Persian food, but this recipe seems to be distinctly Persian, so we’re using Persian in the name.
What meat should I use – do I really need to use lamb?
You can definitely make these Persian Beef and Lamb Kabobs with only ground beef or ground lamb, but we like the flavor of beef and lamb together. Lamb brings just a bit of rich flavor that plays especially well with sumac, garlic, and onion as seasoning. If you don’t like lamb, or don’t have access to lamb, skip it, and use only ground beef. If you really like lamb, then just use ground lamb!
We recommend using a 80 – 85% lean meat mixture which is enough fat to keep things juicy without them falling apart on the grill. You can grind your own meat at home, or just buy 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground lamb and mix them together. I took one pound of each meat and mixed together and it worked really well!
How do I make the kabobs – do I need skewers?
Making the kabobs is easy. Just put the meat in a mixing bowl, then grate the onion into the bowl. This may sound weird, but it’s really easy. Just cut an onion in half and peel it, then hold the stem and run it over the grater, just like a block of cheese. Next add the garlic, egg, and seasonings and work together with your hands. Once the mixture is mixed together, roll it into 8 equal balls and then form the meat into rectangles. Place a wide metal skewer through the meat and you have a ready to grill kabob.
Wide metal skewers are traditional and work really well for this recipe. You can find them in some stores or find them online. Wood skewers do not work well for this recipe, and we do not recommend using them with the ground meat.
If you don’t have metal skewers, it’s totally okay, you can place the meat directly on the grill. They’ll turn out delicious, you’ll just not be able to eat them fresh off the skewer!
These Persian Beef and Lamb Kabobs sound a little like meatloaf…
You’re right – texturally these are really like a meatloaf! If you like meatloaf texture, you’ll like these kabobs.
What should I serve on the side?
The side dish is how I found this recipe! I wrote this recipe in August in Wisconsin, and we have lots of cucumbers and tomatoes fresh from our garden. Looking for recipes to use up that fresh produce, I found this Salad-e Shirazi, or Persian Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad from NY Times Cooking. It was incredibly delicious, and I highly recommend the recipe.
In my research, I found that would be traditional to serve grilled tomatoes and onions with this recipe, along with more sumac as a table seasoning – like salt! If you can’t find sumac at a local store, you can easily find it online, or use a za’atar blend that has sumac in it. For carbs, any type of flatbread or rice would be an excellent choice to enjoy.
Do you have any recipes that are similar to these Persian Beef and Lamb Kabobs?
Yes, we do!
- If you like this method of making kabobs, try this Lula Beef Kabob recipe.
- If you like the flavor of sumac, try this Lemon Sumac Roasted Chicken recipe.
- And if you like tomatoes AND sumac, this Za’atar Grilled Chicken with Tomato Cucumber Salad recipe should be right up your alley.
I hope those notes answer all of your questions about these Persian Beef and Lamb Kabobs, or in the Persian language, Kabob Koobideh. My family really enjoyed them and will be adding them to our rotation of ground beef recipes. We hope you enjoy them too. If you have any notes or variations on the recipe, we would be glad to hear them. Just leave us a comment below with your feedback. See you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 lb Ground Lamb
- 1 Yellow Onion (small size, grated)
- 3 clove Garlic (minced)
- 1 Egg (beaten)
- 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tsp Sumac
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Turmeric
Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix together with your hands. Knead the ingredients until the mixture reaches a meatloaf like consistency and sticks together without falling apart. When all ingredients are mixed, make 8 evenly sized balls of meat. Form these balls into long, low rectangles, and place a metal skewer through the middle of the kabob.
Place the kabobs over direct heat on a grill preheated to medium-high heat. Cook for approximately 3 – 4 minutes per side, flipping once, until the ground beef is cooked to 160ºF. Remove from grill, let sit for 5 minutes and serve with any of the suggested side dishes from the notes above. Enjoy your Persian Beef and Lamb Kabobs!