There is a local restaurant here in Beirut called Kebab-ji with several outlets throughout the city; their kebabs are neatly shaped by their expert kebab-makers and come in several varieties. The photo below is of a kebab-maker from Kebab-ji shaping the kebabs for a catered party.
The kebabs today are not the traditional Lebanese ones that simply rely on a kafta mixture (ground beef or veal or lamb, plus onion and parsley and minimum spices). I mixed this mixture with a generous portion of muhammara.
Muhammara is a relish or a sauce devised in Aleppo, Syria, and quickly adopted by the Lebanese public. It has many variations, but essentially consists of ground walnuts mixed with red pepper paste, a touch of cumin and pomegranate molasses. Normally it is served on the side to dip a morsel of meat into. Here I took it one step further and combined the meat with it. The result is a kebab with a complex play of flavors that is typically Levantine.
- 1 pound of ground beef and ground lamb mixed (can also use one or the other, just don’t pick meat that is too lean)
- 1 onion
- Salt, to taste, 1 tsp of allspice, 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of muhammara sauce (click here for the recipe)
- Place the onion and parsley in the bowl of a food processor; chop the onion and parsley as much as possible by pulsing. Add the meat and spices and run the machine for a minute or longer until the meat, onion and parsley are well mixed. Add the muhammara and mix to combine well.
- Take one small cup of meat mixture and shape it into a long sausage in a skewer; alternatively, place on a piece of greased foil side by side (without skewers). Bake in a 400F oven for 10 minutes or so, flipping the skewers or meat fingers to the other side halfway through. Serve with pita and a salad.