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Medio Oriente

Sheep, beef or chicken kebab ? Here's everything you need to know

How is kebab born?

The term originates in Persia and seems to have been invented by Persian soldiers who, to solve the dilemma of "where do I cook the meat", used their swords as skewers to grill on the fire during outdoor stakeouts. At that time, to avoid wasting fuel, it was preferred to use small pieces of meat so as to use less wood for cooking, and this is how shish kebab was born - shish literally means spit.

Kebab, on the other hand, identifies roasted or grilled meat and is based on small strips of meat sautéed on a hot plate.

The savory breakfast typical of Arab countries - and not only - requires the kebab as a typical breakfast food accompanied by naan bread.

What is kebab made of?

What's inside the kebab? It is clear that the kebab is an agglomeration of meat which, cut into thin strips, is combined and cooked on a "sword" in a particular oven.

How is kebab meat made? This is always called a simple skewer which instead of pork features sheep or chicken meat due to the religious beliefs of the Arab population. Today Turkey much prefers lamb to chicken kebab, thus returning to the origins of how it was once done.

In the 19th century, the particular preparation underwent - and fortunately - the wave of globalization, reaching the European continent and increasing consensus towards the doner kebab version. In the land of origin there are multiple versions, so it is necessary to clarify for a moment to learn how to choose best.

How many types of kebabs are there? Doner kebab in the world and immigration

The first kebab to arrive in the old continent is the result of Arab immigration which brought with it local customs and traditions.

The döner kebab is characterized by a tapered cylinder on which lamb, beef and chicken - very rarely - pork are added.

The shaping of the cylinder allows the union between the different types of meat, and increases the taste in full respect of the traditions from which it derives.

Once upon a time, however, the kebab was made exclusively with sheep meat, creating different types that today are found - with difficulty - only in Arab countries: Iskender, Shish, Adana and Urfa kebab.

Iskender, the first sheep kebab

At the end of the 19th century, the Iskender kebab was born thanks to the imaginative inspiration of Iskender Efendi, from whom, among other things, it takes its name. This is in all respects the ancestor of the dish that we know today as kebab, it was born in Brusa in a small restaurant in this large Turkish city in north-west Anatolia.

The idea was spectacular because for the first time a vertical skewer appeared and however simple the ingenuity may be, it became the true ancestor of what we commonly know today as kebab.

The beginning occurred with only lamb meat seasoned with tomato sauce, a little melted sheep butter and yogurt, all enclosed in a pita. What do you drink with kebab? The perfect preparation is combined with sira, a typical drink of the area made from grape juice to aid digestion.

The Shish kebab, and here's the lamb

A sort of Arab-branded barbecue, it seems like heresy if we keep in mind the common idea of ​​barbecue, and yet.

Shish kebab is a small skewer of pieces of lamb, often coming from the leg which is richer in pulp and offers a more intense and full flavour.

The marinade must be delicate, based on olive oil and a particular rub capable of recalling the aromas of the Arab land: cumin, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and salt.

Quick cooking, just over ten minutes to obtain perfect and extremely tasty meat.

To make the dish more traditional you can add the typical side dish: pilaf rice with onion, peppers and grilled tomatoes. The warm pita perfectly welcomes the lamb meat with a little rocket, just to enrich it with a touch of color.

Adana kebab, the variant

The variant comes from the Turkish city located in the south of the country and is based on mutton and lamb fat. The difference with Shish, in addition to the type of meat, lies in its preparation which, rather than being diced, is minced.

The additional aromas and vegetables are: onions, garlic, chili peppers and paprika which, when combined, give a mixture with an intense red color and just the right spicy flavour. At sight it appears like a large meatloaf which must be cooked on the appropriate wedge, so as to give the sensation of a unique and traditional kebab.

Urfa kebab, a pinch of sweetness

Urfa kebab also takes its name from the city it comes from: Urfa, located in the southern part of the country. The meat for the kebab in this case is sheep and it doesn't matter if it is rich or low in fat, what matters is that the mince is medium grained.

The seasoning is the real difference with the Adana version and consists of: salt, pepper, cumin and sweet paprika. To serve it you need to add vegetables with a spicy touch such as chillies - green is better, onions and tomatoes, in addition to the classic portion of rice which, according to many, removes fat.

How is doner kebab prepared?

Today we consider it a classic street food and is prepared following a careful marination that begins with the perfect shaping of the meat. But how to make kebab at home?

Cooking takes place by fitting the inverted wedge into a heat source and then, once cooked, thin slices are cut vertically so as to offer small, tasty, thinly cut pieces of meat in the rolled piadina and seasoned with typical, sometimes risky, sauces.

This is the most popular variant in the Bel Paese, however it can be proposed with particular combinations, sometimes risky and other more classic.

Once again, creativity is the true protagonist of a dish capable of combining ancient tradition and innovation. To follow the kebab trend you need to know sheep meat, so as to cook it to perfection and make the dish even more inviting and propose it as an alternative second course: the deconstructed kebab, very popular in starry kitchens.