One winter evening many years ago my sister called me and asked if I’d like to join her and a friend for Chelo-Kebab. I had no idea what it was but she assured me it was delicious and that I had to try it. They picked me up and we drove to the WestEnd of the city to a Persian restaurant called Cazba http://cazbarestaurant.com/
After a short wait we were seated in the intimate dining room, dimly lit and smelling of exotic spices. Then our meal arrived. It was amazing! Skewered beef (or lamb or chicken) kebabs seasoned with spices, saffroned rice, a broiled tomato and flat bread make this simple dish, (said to be the national dish of Iran). The portions were quite large and I happily packed 1/2 of it up for lunch the next day.
Ever since that night I’ve been meaning to go back but for some reason haven’t. I’ve driven past Cazba on a few occasions and the line up out the door is merited.
Tonight I thought I’d try my hand at Chelo-Kebab. We just finished dinner and well, it was pretty tasty! This is my own (very personal) recipe. I hope to not insult anyone with my liberty at using my own ingredients. I will include the recipes for the Kebabs, Roasted Tomatoes and Saffroned Rice so you can make the full meal.
FOR THE KEBABS YOU WILL NEED:
- 1 pound ground beef (or lamb, or a combination of the two)
- 1/2 a medium yellow onion (chopped very fine or grated)
- 1 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper ( use white pepper)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro finely chopped
- If you like spice ( I don’t), you can add 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, cover and let sit in fridge for about an hour for the flavours to blend in.
Take small amounts of the mix and shape them into sausage like shapes. Skewer the meat, squeezing it to mold it to the skewer.
Cook over the BBQ approximately 5 minutes each side. Watch the kebabs carefully, so you don’t dry out the meat.
FOR THE SAFFRONED RICE YOU WILL NEED:
- 1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
- 1/4 teaspoon of saffron flowers
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
- 1 whole garlic clove
- 2 cups of chicken broth ( I used an organic chicken bullion cube + 2 cups of water)
In a medium pot on high heat, add oil and the entire garlic clove. Mix around until fragrant then add chopped onion and stirring constantly, let it cook until it turns yellow and transparent.
In a cup with 2 Tblsp of boiling water, add the saffron and let sit while you’re cooking the onions. This will release the bright reddish colour of the saffron which turns the rice yellow.
Now add the red pepper and cook down for a minute followed by the uncooked rice. Stir this all together for about a minute. I then crumbled the chicken bullion onto the rice and added 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook until water has absorbed (about 20 minutes). Fluff with a fork and top with chopped parsley to garnish.
FOR THE BROILED TOMATOES YOU WILL NEED:
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Wash tomatoes and cut in half
Toss tomatoes with remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
Place in a baking dish dish and roast for 20 minutes. I then broiled them at level 5 for 5 minutes.
DINNER IS SERVED!
Someone asked me the other day how it is that I cook all this comfort food and stay thin. My secret: I eat everything I like, in moderation and in small portions.
I hope you’ll try my attempt at Chelo-Kebab. Happy cooking!