Kabob Koobideh

Also known as kabobadoobideh. (It's not.)

  • Servings: 6
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For when you want tasty (but awkwardly shaped) meat.


  • 3 pounds ground lamb (or beef, or any combination thereof)
  • 2 tablespoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Grate or process onions into a pulp, then strain out liquid.
  2. Mix meat, onion pulp and spices together in a large bowl.
  3. Apply meat to skewers (details below).
  4. Pre-heat open grill to medium direct heat, with a thin layer of coals throughout the bottom.
  5. Place meat above the top grate. Turn frequently and rotate from hot and cold spots until meat reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Serve immediately.

For the past week I’ve had the word “kabobadoobideh” stuck in my head. It has a nice rhythm to it, like the video of that dude flamboyantly salting meat that has been recently showing up on the internet .

Kabobadoobideh (is it stuck in your head yet?) is a portmanteau my brain apparently made up for kabob koobideh, an Iranian dish that features ground meat grilled on skewers. Traditionally, that meat is lamb, though ground beef can be substituted or mixed in depending on what you prefer. Ground lamb is generally twice as expensive as your ground beef and can be hard to find depending on where you are. I got mine from Whole Foods.

The spice mix used in this recipe is pretty simple – a bit of salt, pepper, turmeric and sumac.

Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that is commonly used to flavor kabobs in Iran, and boy can it be hard to find. I originally was having it one-day shipped to me by Amazon, but the delivery people gave up when I missed their phone call (our apartment has a very fake and inoperable call box). The only place I found the spice was at a small Iranian market next to the “Dollar Tren” – I had checked out at least two grocery stores and the local halal market. I also rewarded myself with Iranian desserts from the market.

Now I know how Marco Polo felt.

You could probably get by without sumac, but it has a sour, lemony taste that was hard for me to give up (it’s literally in the name).

Using a grater or a food processor, grate the onions to pulp. It holds the meat together.

Oddly enough, the first time I’ve used a food processor.

Once you have all the meat, spices and onion mixed up, the most complicated part of making these kabobs is getting the meat on the skewers neatly. The key word is neatly (i.e. not so awkwardly shaped). To do so, grab about a fistful of meat and roll it into roughly the shape of a spring roll. Push your meat blob onto the blade of your skewer (which you clearly have from when you made chicken kabobs), then in short pinching motions about every other inch, pull the meat down the length of the skewer.

Gotta have some vegetables.

I actually ended just doing the first part of that since I was short on time – between doing the prep, taking pictures and going on a spice expedition in the morning, I didn’t want to the meat to have to sit out in room temperature for any longer than it needed to. If I did, I’d probably still be there right now, making everything perfectly wavy. As long as you spread out the meat evenly, you should be fine.

One of the best sticks I’ve ever met

The grill set up for this is medium direct heat – a thin layer of coals spread out throughout the bottom of the grill. We need the extra surface area to cook along the length of the skewers. I requisitioned a stick off the ground to hold them up. Turn the meat frequently and move skewers to hot and cold spots, respectively. Safe temperature for ground lamb is at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.


Serve with rice again, because it’s awesome. My friend Elena also made a nice salad to go along with it. I may have to steal her recipe one day because it’s very pretty.

One comment

  1. Last weekend I had the pleasure of tasting Joey’s kebab recipe, and I have to say it is perhaps one of the best kebabs I have ever had. The first bite was quite memorable: there was a very slight spice burn in between bites of moist, but not quite juicy meat. The texture reminded me a Swedish meatball, but instead of the customary Swedish blandness that requires a complimentary sauce for taste this kebab had a slight zing of spicy goodness in the mix. You can tell a lot of love went into the preparation, and I can attest to that fact since I was there when Joey went off early in the morning to scrounge up some of the missing spices for the grilling a few hours later. Overall, the kebabs successfully incorporated a variety of spices on a moist piece of meat. I admit I fell into a two second depression when I found out there weren’t going to be seconds.

    The kebabs worked well with what I interpreted as a thematically Persian meal. On my plate a kebab was laid on a bed of what I think was basmati rice aside a grilled tomato;a salad made with cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and feta cheese provided by our friend Elena; and bars of store-bought baklava for dessert. Joey grilled the tomatoes in the same way he grilled the kebabs, and the effect certainly generated a delicious, juicy vegetable that appropriately complemented the kebabs. Mixed with the fresh, crisp Mediterranean salad and sweet baklava, the meal I had touched a wide range of flavors that left me full and more than satisfied. I plan to take advantage of Joey’s culinary generosity again in the future.

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