Like so many foods on Israeli menus, kebab has its roots in the Arab kitchen. According to the Oxford Companion to Food, the name “shish kebab” is derived from an Arabic term for any type of fried meat. Only during Turkish dominance of the region did the term come to consistently refer to small chunks of meat (usually lamb) marinated, then skewered with vegetables and grilled. The kebab that Israelis are familiar with is actually a variation of Kufta kebab, which comes from the Syrian term kooftah, or pounded meat. This favorite appears in early cookbooks from the region. Every country, from India to Afghanistan, has its own variation.
These lamb kebabs are easy to throw together, and they make a crowd-pleasing dish for a summer barbecue. Make sandwiches for your guests, or create a stuff-your-own-pita bar with fresh-baked pitas, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, spicy harissa or schug (hot pepper sauce), and a drizzle of tahini.
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Spray 8 metal skewers with cooking spray and set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and incorporate well with hands. Form meat mixture into about 18 to 20 equal-sized oval or round patties, and thread 3 patties onto each skewer. Preheat a clean grill or well-seasoned grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill skewers until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat and slide off skewers. Serve warm.