Persian koobideh is a Persian Kebab with ground meat mixed with onions and parsley. It is formed around a flat Persian skewer and grilled over hot coals. It is then served off the skewer with sides such as yogurt sauce, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and flat bread.
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You can make this in the oven under a broiler without the skewers too. Be sure to broil on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
The first time I made this I used half ground beef and half ground lamb. It was amazing even if I did over cook it a little. I recommend the 50/50 mixture but be sure to use lean ground beef to make up for the fatty ground lamb.
Traditionally onions, parsley, salt and pepper are mixed in. The mixture is massaged for about five minutes in order to incorporate the additions as well as develop the stickiness factor that keeps them from falling apart. You will notice at the beginning of the massage process the meat doesn’t stick to your hands but by the end you will have to scrape the meat off with a paper towel. This works well for making hamburger patties or koftas that won’t fall apart. What is it that makes the meat sticky when you massage it for a few minutes? Is it the starch or proteins? If you know, leave a comment, I’m curious.
Koobideh vs. Kofta
I have made a lot of Kofta’s over the years. They are basically individual mini meat loaves not cooked on a stick. One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is experiment and Kofta’s are a blank canvas for practicing using your spices and herbs. It is very forgiving too. If you mess up, just cover it in catsup. I won’t tell.
Koobideh is new to me. It is simple and probably goes back several hundred years as humans evolved into cooking meat over an open flame on a stick. The first kebab (grilled meat on a skewer) may have been developed in Turkey in the 1300’s by soldiers cooking freshly caught meat on their swords over a campfire. This technique of cooking meat spread in every direction and now every culture has their version of a kebab.
Koobideh is Persian for ‘slamming’ which is how they used to prepare their meat for a skewer. While kebabs are skewered chunks of meat, koobideh is skewered ground meat. Both are traditionally cooked over an open flame but in modern times, you can make these by broiling them in your oven close to the heating element.
Persian skewers are long metal skewers that are wide and flat, usually with a wooden handle. They are designed to hold onto ground meat for grilling. They are almost necessary for making Koobideh although you could make it without these special skewers. You can form the Persian Kebab shape and cook on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet either in the oven under a broiler or in the BBQ. Cooking on a rack allows the extra fat to fall off and the heat and circulation to move around under the Koobideh.
One of my kitchen hacks is using the food processor to dice onions. Just peel and quarter the onion and pulse a few times. Be careful not to over process. The onions will turn into a slurry of sulfurous muck. This is a great way to dice onions without the tears.
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