Kebabs are a quintessentially Iranian (and Middle Eastern) dish that’s widely available at Persian restaurants in Iran and abroad. It also takes center stage at dinner tables in Persian homes. Iranians have both a tendency and a capacity to elevate their dishes according to the availability of specific regional ingredients, and kebabs are no exception. This dish has its origin in the Caspian Sea region of Iran, where the climate lends itself to growing a wide range of produce, fruits, herbs, and of course rice.
What makes this dish delightfully flavorful is the use of various fresh herbs and pomegranate juice or paste, allowing the meat to marinate and tenderize over an extended period of time. Sour and aromatic elements create a magical signature combination in Persian cuisine, and this dish highlights and showcases this perfect harmony.
Traditionally, this dish uses a very specific fresh herb that grows in the Gilan and Mazandaran provinces of Iran and is called Chochaagh. However, Chochaagh is not widely known in the rest of the world and is only available locally. So when preparing this dish, I rely on all the other aromatic herbs that are easily available to create the flavor profile that best matches the original dish from the Caspian Sea.
- 1.5 Lbs beef, cut into 1.5 – 2 inch pieces Rib-eye or tenderloin
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground golpar, Persian hog-weed optional
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup pomegranate paste
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, packed
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, packed
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, packed
- Cut the beef into 1.5 to 2 inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
- In a food processor, gradually combine the remaining ingredients and process until you have a creamy paste.
- Add this marinating mixture to the meat and stir well.
- Store in the same bowl covered or in a freezer bag in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours.
- 30 minutes before grilling, remove the meat from the fridge and wipe some of the excess marinade off the meat, leaving some on the meat.
- Using a metal skewer, push the kebab pieces through the skewer. Making sure to not overcrowd the skewer so that the meat cooks more uniformly and efficiently.
- Place the kebab skewers on a preheated grill and cook on one side for about 4 minutes on medium heat before turning them over and cooking for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Persian Kebabs are traditionally served with steamed saffron basmati rice or flat breads that are typically accompanied by grilled onions and tomatoes.