AskDefine | Define kebabs

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  1. Plural of kebab

Extensive Definition

Kebab (also transliterated as kabab, kebap, kabob, kibob, kebhav,kephav) refers to a variety of meat dishes in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, African, Central Asian, and South Asian cuisines, consisting of grilled or broiled meats on a skewer or stick. The most common kebabs include lamb and beef, although others use goat, chicken, fish, or shellfish. Observant Muslims and Jews do not use pork for kebabs because of religious prohibition, but pork kebabs can be found in India, especially in the state of Goa. Like other ethnic foods brought by immigrants and travelers, the kebab has become part of American and European cuisine.


The word kabab (کباب) is ultimately from Persian but originally meant fried meat, not grilled meat. The Arabic word possibly derives from Aramaic kabbābā, which probably has its origins in Akkadian kabābu meaning "to burn, char". In the 14th century dictionary Lisan al'Arab, kebab is defined to be synonymous with tabahajah, a Persian word for a dish of fried meat pieces. The Persian word was considered more high-toned in the medieval period, and as a result, kebab was used infrequently in Arabic books of that time. Only in the Turkish period, with the appearance of the phrase shish kebab, did kebab gain its current meaning, whereas earlier shiwa` شواء had been the Arabic word for grilled meat. However, kebab still retains its original meaning in the names for stew-like dishes such as tas kebab (bowl kebab). In Greece and Cyprus, essentially the same dish is called souvlaki and in Serbia vesalica "raznjici".
In most dialects of North American English, the word kebab usually refers to shish kebab. However, some authorities contend that the dish has been native to the Near East since ancient times.
In Andalusia, a variant of the shish kebab, known as Pinchos Morunos or Moorish sticks, is very popular, usually eaten during summer barbecues. These are usually made of pork or chicken meat. In the town of Melilla, beef meat is generally used.
Recently, shish kebabs have been making their way into American barbecue. In Louisiana, for example, brochette, the French version of shish kebab, is also cooked at the barbecue because the barbecue style of the state is influenced by Cajun cuisine, which in turn was influenced by French cuisine, a major branch of Mediterranean cuisine.

Döner kebab

Döner kebab, literally "rotating meat" in Turkish, is sliced lamb or chicken loaf which is slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit. It is similar to gyros and shawarma. Döner kebab is most popularly served in pita bread, as it is best known, with salad, but is also served in a dish with a salad and bread or French fries on the side, or used for Turkish pizzas called pide or "kebabpizza". Take-out döner kebab or shawarma restaurants are common in some parts of Europe. Döner kebab is said to be the best-selling fast food in Germany, Poland and Romania as well as being popular in Austria, the UK, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Canada, Ireland and Australia. Take-out gyros are popular in the United States, where beef and lamb are typically used; shawarma is available in ethnic neighborhoods.
In the UK kebabs (or Döner meat and chips) are most popularly eaten after a night out, representing a large part of British clubbing culture; and many kebab shops (and vans) will do their main business in the hours around closing time for local pubs and clubs. The same applies for The Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Scandinavia. It is therefore not uncommon to find similar late-night kebab vending shops in holiday-clubbing destinations such as Ibiza, to accommodate for the British culture.

Chelow kabab

() is a national dish of Iran. The meal is simple, consisting of steamed, saffroned basmati or Persian rice (chelow) and kabab, of which there are several distinct Persian varieties. This dish is served everywhere throughout Iran today, but traditionally was most closely associated with the northern part of the country.
It is served with the basic Iranian meal accompaniments, in addition to grilled tomatoes on the side of the rice, and butter on top of the rice. It is an old northern tradition (probably originating in Tehran) that a raw egg yolk should be placed on top of the rice as well, though this is strictly optional, and most restaurants will not serve the rice this way unless it is specifically requested. Somagh (powdered sumac) is also made available, and if desired, only a dash should be sprinkled upon the rice.
In the old bazaar tradition, the rice (which is covered with a tin lid) and accompaniments are served first, immediately followed by the kababs, which are brought to the table by the waiter, who holds several skewers in his left hand, and a piece of flat bread (typically nan-e lavash) in his right. A skewer is placed directly on the rice and while holding the kabab down on the rice with the bread, the skewer is quickly pulled out. With the two most common kababs, barg and koobideh, two skewers are always served. In general, bazaar kabab restaurants only serve these two varieties, though there are exceptions.
The traditional beverage of choice to accompany chelow kabab is doogh, a Persian sour yogurt drink, flavored with salt and mint, and sometimes made with carbonated mineral water.

Kathi kebab

Cooked in a tandoor, this is one of the most famous tandoori dishes, besides tandoori chicken, which has made tandoori cuisine famous worldwide. Made with beef, chicken or lamb meat,it is mostly prepared with a mix of spices, and cooked in a tandoor with skewers. The radiant heat from the tandoor slowly cooks the meat and due to the lack of direct heat from the fire, the juices remain inside while adding flavour, keeping the meat's moisture intact. It is usually served with rice, or a variety of Indian breads, along with onions and mint sauce.

Kebab variants

Similar dishes

Anticuchos (Andean States), Brochette (French), Ćevapi (Balkans), Pinchitos (Spanish), Espetada (Portuguese), Espetinho (Brazilian), mtsvadi (მწვადი -Georgian), Souvlaki (Σουβλάκι- Greek), Kebakko (Finland), Satay (Southeast Asia), Shashlik (Russian), Yakitori (Japanese), Rablóhús (Hungarian), Frigărui (Romania), Spiedies (New York State), Spiedino (Italian cuisine), Suya (Nigeria), Kkochi (Cuisine of Korea), Sosatie (Cuisine of South Africa), Kawap (Uygur), Chuanr (Chinese), Banderilla (México).


External links

kebabs in Arabic: كباب
kebabs in Czech: Kebab
kebabs in Danish: Kebab
kebabs in German: Kebab
kebabs in Spanish: Kebab
kebabs in Basque: Kebab
kebabs in Persian: کباب
kebabs in French: Kebab
kebabs in Italian: Kebap
kebabs in Hebrew: קבב
kebabs in Georgian: ქაბაბი
kebabs in Latvian: Kebabs
kebabs in Lithuanian: Kebabas
kebabs in Dutch: Kebab
kebabs in Japanese: ケバブ
kebabs in Norwegian: Kebab
kebabs in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kebab
kebabs in Polish: Kebab
kebabs in Portuguese: Kebab
kebabs in Russian: Люля-кебаб
kebabs in Simple English: Kebab
kebabs in Finnish: Kebab
kebabs in Swedish: Kebab
kebabs in Turkish: Kebap
kebabs in Chinese: 羊肉串
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