Interesting Origins of Kebabs

Kebabs: From The Battlefield to The Kitchen

Did you know that kebabs originated in the Middle East? Kebabs are various cooked meat dishes, first invented by Turkish soldiers who grilled chunks of freshly hunted animal meat skewed on swords on open fires. Also, kebabs were a natural solution for nomadic tribes who eat the meat of their animal game. Tough meats were marinated not only to tenderize, but also to get rid of some of the gamey flavor. It was said that the name was firstly discovered in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusuf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebab is mentioned as a food item.

Kebab is a broad term that encompasss a variety of meat dishes that are grilled. You find them in English language and other native language write-ups in the Middle East, in India and other parts of Asia, and in the Muslim world. Not all kebabs, though, are cooked on skewers; many are also grounded, pan-fried, baked or stewed. Kebabs do not always pertain to an all-meat dish. According to recipe, kebabs may include meat, seafood, vegetables and fruits on a skewer, or served on a bed of lettuce, with rice and salad.

Traditionally, meat for kebabs are often of lamb or mutton. But regional recipes may have beef, goat, chicken or fish; in other cultures, pork is used. Two of the most popular and familiar kebabs are the shish kebab and the doner kebab. True shish kebabs are made with pieces of marinated lamb that is attached to a bladed metal skewer which is four sided and laid flat to grill. The word doner kebab means ‘rotating kebab’ where the meat is roasted or grilled on a vertical rotating spit; it was invented some 40 years ago.

How is Indian kebab different? Not so different, but it is as popular within and outside of India. A boti kebab is one made out of mutton; there’s tandoori kebab, made of cubed chicken marinated with yogurt and spices; and the Punjabi style chicken tikka or kebab is made with combination of mint and coriander. And due to widespread vegetarianism in India, there are many local, vegetarian varieties of kebab, made from paneer (cheese) or potato; some use lentils and spinach. Kebabs from India are distinguished from other kebabs mostly from the use of Indian spices.

It has been interesting to know the amazing journey of the kebab. From whence it was first enjoyed, in the Turkish battlefields to the present day different variants around the world – in homes, restaurants, and even on roadsides, the kebab is international and well-loved.

Must-Try True Kebabs in Bellevue

When in Bellevue, drop by MokSha, your Indian restaurant serving authentic Indian cuisine. Our kebabs are sumptuous Tandoor-prepared selections, served sizzling on a pepper and onion salad. Takes a little time to cook because we always serve fresh.