Kebab (kebap in Turkish, kabab in India/Pakistan, also spelled kebob, kabob) means "grilled meat" in Turkish. Kebab is usually made of lamb and beef, although chicken and fish can be used for some styles. Pork is never used by Muslims because of religious belief but is commonly used by non-Muslim sellers.

There are many varieties of kebab and the term means different things in different countries. The term kebab without specifying the kind refers to döner kebab in Europe and to shish kebab in the United States.

Perhaps the earliest recipe is in the tenth-century Kitab al-Tabeekh كتاب الطبيخ (book of cookery) by Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq of Baghdad. His recipe for Kebab Khalis uses thin slices of lean meat, salted and grilled in an ungreased frying pan.

Döner kebab

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Döner kebab

Döner kebab, literally "rotating meat", is a sliced lamb or chicken loaf slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit. It is similar to gyros, shawarma and Taco al pastor. Döner kebab is popularly best known served in pita bread with salad but is also served on a dish with a salad and bread or French fries on the side (not in Australia) or used on 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 and comes close in the popularity stake-outs in France, Denmark and Australia. Take-out gyros is quite popular in the United States where it is usually beef and lamb, shawarma is available in ethnic neighborhoods but döner kebab is unknown.

Some kebab connoisseurs will also point out that it contains every food group for a healthy meal and lifestyle. It has bread (cereals group), cabbage and lettuce (vegetables group), tomatoes (fruit group), creamy herb sauce (dairy group), oil (fat group) not to mention the döner meat (meat group), although one might note some inbalance in the relative ratios (notably, the fat, meat and vegetable groups.)

Some variants:

  • Iskender Kebab - Doner kebab served with yoghurt, tomato sauce and butter

Shish kebab

Shish kebab (şiş kebap in Turkish) is a wooden or metal stick (a skewer) with small cubes of any kind of meat, fowl or fish with or without vegetables that is roasted on a grill. Vegetables typically used include eggplant, tomato, bell pepper, onion and mushrooms. A similar Greek food is called Souvlaki or Kalamaki.

Kabab was the food of Persian kings and in ancient times ordinary Iranians consumed it only once a year on Nowrooz, the Persian New Year. Today, however, kabab is not only consumed in almost every Iranian house on a weekly basis, but it has also become Iran's number one selling fast food.

Some variants:

  • Samak Kebab - grilled fish on a stick
  • Shish Tawook or Shish Taouk - yogurt marinated chicken grilled on a stick (şiş tavuk in Turkish)
  • Kofte Kebab or Shish köfte - minced lamb meatballs with herbs, often including parsley and mint, on a stick, grilled.
  • Kabab Koobideh - (Persian) ground beef (usually filet mignon), often mixed with parsley and chopped onions
  • Kabab Barg - (Persian) grilled marinated flank steak (or filet mignon)
  • Kabab Soltani - (Persian) combination of kabab koobideh and kabab barg
  • Jujeh Kabab - (Persian) grilled chicken, typically small or baby chicken with the bone
  • Chenjeh Kabab - (Persian) grilled lamb prepared similar to shish kabab, without the vegetables
  • Shishleek - (Persian) grilled baby lamb chops (usually from the leg), typically marinated
  • Kabab Bareh - (Persian) grilled lamb, typically marinated in yogurt with parsley
  • Boryani Kebab
  • Senjeh Kebab

The dish called Chelo Kabab (rice and kabab) is one of the most common forms of serving kabab in Iran which combines a variety of Persian kababs with Basmati rice (slightly saffronated if desired) and grilled tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. An old Iranian tradition is to break a raw egg over the rice, along with plenty of butter, just before serving.

American varieties of shish kebab include:

  • Beef kebab
  • Chicken kebab
  • Tofu kebab
  • Vegetable kebab
  • Turkey kebabde:Kebab

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