Ground meat kebab

May 14, 2013  •  Category:

I was thinking about my friend Phoebe and how fun it was to cook together. She taught me a few of her kitchen secrets and we would exchange stories about her native Egypt and my native Lebanon; Phoebe loves Lebanese food; she remarked to me once “you know, your food is very healthy you have a lot of fresh salads”. She had her son’s graduation party at her favorite Lebanese restaurant in Dallas, Ali-Baba.

Apparently now that place has branches everywhere, including Vegas. There are so many good entertainment in Vegas! I like the shows, the shopping center and the wide variety of great restaurants. Ali-Baba is the type of Lebanese restaurant with American-style comfort and a generic traditional menu with food that you might find at your aunt or best friend’s house in Lebanon. I read so many good reviews about it. The interior design of the restaurant is amazing, they have chandeliers that are Tiffany-inspired, nice long tables and they also offer belly dancing entertainment which pleased my Egyptian-born friend immensely (I think Egyptians really adore belly dancing, much more than the Lebanese do).

Here is what she would typically order from their menu.


  • 1 lb ground meat (beef or lamb or a mixture of the two)
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1/2 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves chopped
  • Spices: 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp paprika. 
  • 2 slices of sandwich bread, soaked in water and drained and squeezed dry or 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)

If you have a meat grinder, run the meat with the onion and parsley and spices through the grinder a couple of times through the fine grinder. If not, place them in the bowl of a food processor and run the machine till you get a homogenous paste. 

NOTE: I added about 1/4 cup of tomato paste, and a couple of tablespoons of tahini,  which is not necessary, just an option!

mix in processor


1.     Divide the meat mixture into golf-size balls; insert one ball into a skewer  and using the palm of one hand, shape each ball into a kebab, stretching it and patting it constantly till it look even and elongated. 

2.     Grill the meat or roast in a 400F oven for 12 minutes, rotating the skewers after 5 minutes to cook all sides evenly. 

3.     Serve on pita bread, previously slathered with tomato paste and covered with chopped parsley, onion and sumac.

beef & lamb kbab

pro kebab maker


24 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Tom | Tall Clover says:

    Hi Joumana, I love the set up of that outdoor grill and the well-designed grill and skewers. And the recipe is another of yours I will try out eagerly. Thank you! Time to clean the grill!

  2. Belinda @zomppa says:

    There is something wonderful bout cooking together, for sure, especially when it’s great meals like this!

  3. twbarritt says:

    These look so good – I think that combination of savory ingredients and fresh ingredients has such appeal. Will have to try as I start grilling this summer.

  4. Rosa says:

    They look incredibly mouthwatering! Real kebabs…



  5. Nidal says:

    Bonjour Joumana,
    Ce plat est celui qui évoque, pour moi, incontestablement, les saveurs et les parfums de la cuisine du Proche Orient (Liban, Syrie, Israël, Palestine, Irak, Egypte et Jordanie…).
    La cuisine dite « de rue »…J’entends par là, la cuisine servie dans la majeure partie des restaurants ou « échoppes » dans ces pays. Ce Kebab qui dégage une odeur envoûtante, surtout lorsqu’il contient une dose adéquate de gras (Lyée).
    Lyée : Je ne sais pas si le mot est utilisé au Liban, mais c’est la partie noble de la grasse ou du gras de l’agneau. Parfois on l’insert, sous forme de cubes, entre les morceaux de viandes et de tomates piqués sur une proche allant sur un barbecue pour amplifier le goût et les parfums. Ce Lyée, se mange même comme le reste des morceaux de viande grillés. Il est même très recherché par les amateurs…
    Je disais donc que le Kebab (ou le Kabab, comme on le prononce on Jordanie, en Palestine et en Syrie…Je crois !), est le plat par excellence pour évoquer, au-delà du goût…LE PARFUM de la cuisine moyen orientale, surtout quand l’odeur de l’Arak et du Narguilé s’en mêlent…
    Merci, Joumana, d’évoquer ces bons souvenirs…Qui m’inspirent, visiblement…Même en travaillant !

    • Joumana says:

      @Nidal: oui c’est le meme mot ici et le boucher demande toujours si on en veut quand on commande de la viande pour des kébas ou autres!

  6. Simonede Chadarévian says:

    Joumana, tu n’arrêteras pas de me donner l’eau à la bouche! Looks so yummy! Merci!
    Simone 🙂

  7. Rabz says:

    They look fabulous. YUM!!!

  8. Leigh says:

    Interesting that you mention Ali Baba. I never really found it to be that great. I went to the one on Campbell and 75 in Richardson a few times but wasn’t really all that impressed. Maybe it’s just me. Who knows. Regardless, I love me some kebabs! 😀

    • Joumana says:

      @Leigh: My friend Phoebe and my ex-mother in-law were both totally sold on Ali-Baba; I think it answered their need for both American convenience and Middle-Eastern flavors.

  9. Leigh says:

    I would say that is my main problem with the restaurants here! I don’t know if you ever went to Afrah or not when in the area, but I have always liked their food. Their homemade pistachio ice cream and shish tawook sandwich are my go to! 😀

    • Joumana says:

      @Leigh: Afrah was just up the street and my son used to go there a lot with his buddy; I liked it, never tried their pistachio ice-cream, unfortunately; but they seemed very nice and down-home like! 🙂 I will say one thing: It is impossible to replicate the food one gets here in Lebanon; even something as simple as parsley is unique here, silky paper thin and so so fragrant; I mean the so-called Italian parsley is worlds away from the Lebanese local parsley and this goes with all veggies, especially cabbage, grape leaves, cucumbers, and zucchinis.

  10. Héni says:

    Hello Joumana, How interesting the addition of tahini into the meat mixture. I love me some kebab but this addition is quite new to me. I’ll be sure to try this out soon as it’s summer BBQ season now! The tomato paste also is new to me … I’m used to thoum sauce. Cheers to you! <3 from Algeria

  11. Susan says:

    Almost like American meatloaf but even more flavorful with the spices and grilling! I love this idea and how you’ve served them on the tomato slathered pitas.

  12. Mark Wisecarver says:

    First off, sorry I have not posted in a while.
    I loved these as a kid and Sito made them with toasted pine nuts (snoo’-ber) then served with warm oil and of course fresh breads.
    As for Belly dancing, all of our family from Beirut loved it and growing up in Detroit there was a Lebanese radio show each Saturday night we listened to.

  13. Gemma @andgeesaid says:

    yum! this looks so delicious, i love the outdoor grill! xx

    gemma @

  14. Banana Wonder says:

    Love your addition of tahini and tomato paste to these kebabs. Also inspired to get some metal skewers!

  15. Barbara says:

    Delicious! And those spices are perfect. Adding tahini is unusual, but I bet it was good.

  16. Oui, Chef says:

    Oohhh…this reminds me of much of the food I enjoyed recently in Turkey….YUM!

  17. Jill says:

    Look amazing, cannot wait to make!!

  18. Heba says:

    It’s great i love the BBQ out side

  19. Leigh says:

    That is interesting what you said about the veggies. I have been to Lebanon once, and of course it was amazing. It was when I was younger and before I began to really cook myself. InshAllah one day I’ll make it back there and be able to really appreciate it for the reasons you have mentioned!

  20. Jamie says:

    I love this kind of dish and we make something similar, more a North Africa version. This one is lovely. I agree that your addition of tahini and tomato paste is perfect!

  21. Riri-cuisine says:

    It looks so tasty and juicy! I need just a lil bit more heat outside to make a huge BBQ and do this recipe! 🙂

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