Very simply this is about the only authentic Persian cuisine I know how to make in my own kitchen, to date. The kabob, which is known as Kabob Digi or Pan-Made Kabobs, are actually quite easy to make and cook. This part of the meal I have actually known how to make for some time now. It was a great entree to make with some rice when I used to attend Cal Poly Pomona and I missed home cooked meals. I never made the tomatoes or cucumber salad back then though.
The kabob can be made with any type of ground meat, I prefer ground beef and this time chose to purchase the fattiest beef available to test it out. Not one of the best ideas I had, I might add. Nonetheless, I am trying anything to make my kabob as tender as possible, so I thought the fat would help.
To make the kabob: combine 1 or 2 lbs of ground meat, 1 large shredded onion including juice, somagh (powdered sumac), yogurt and salt & pepper. Thoroughly combine all ingredients, I mean like dig in with your hands and get dirty kind of combine. You just want to make sure all components are incorporated well together. While you are prepping your onion, heat your pan then add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Once the pan is nice and hot, carefully place the ground meat into the pan, flattening it to about an inch or so in thickness. It should look like a giant hamburger at this point. I like to sprinkle a lot more somagh on top of the meat at this time too. Cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for about 15-20 mins or so. If you find your pan is too hot and it almost looks like your meat is about to burn, add some water to it.
After it looks like the meat has cooked through a bit, take a flat spatula and make lengthwise cuts of the meat from one end to the other, depending on your desired width, I like to make them about an inch or so. Let the meat cook for another 5-10 mins and very carefully, maybe even using a 2nd spatula, turn each kabob over to cook some more. This can be the trickiest part of the process, but with some practice, you’ll get the hang of it or if your still in the experimenting phase like me, using the fatty meat, plus the added tenderness of the yogurt and onions proved to be a bit of a messy situation and a lot more pieces of kabob than I had originally sectioned off. Trail and error, point taken and remembered for the next batch.
Cook for another 10 mins and wala you have officially prepared some homemade, delicious kabobs. For the cucumber and yogurt salad, I like to use a combination of Greek strained and regular yogurt, Persian cucumbers, walnuts, Sadaf seasonings including yogurt dip mix and dried mint leaves, plus of course some s & p. By all means mix it up a bit by adding more or less. Sometimes along with the walnuts, raisins are added to this salad but I don’t only for the fact that the raisins become too mushy too quickly. Combine, serve and enjoy!
Oh I almost forgot about the tender tomatoes! Ok so while your kabob is cooking and before you start your prep on the yogurt salad, take 1-3 medium sized tomatoes and roughly chop into large chunks. Begin heating a small sauce pan with some oil and water, s & p and a good amount of the somagh. Take 1 onion and chop the same as the tomatoes. Place both veggies into the pan and let simmer on low to medium heat alongside while the kabob is cooking. This is great to add atop the kabobs, have on the side or even on some rice, if you just so happen to make some.
Mast-o-Khair (Persian Cucumber & Yogurt Salad): A
Overall, I have made better kabobs but at least this was edible enough for one day. After I flipped them over, there was plenty of juice, almost too much juice from the meat and oil so I turned up the heat a bit. I walked away for about 5 minutes then started to hear a crackling sound, my kabobs were burning 😦 I quickly turned them over again but the damage was already done, I was way too hungry to even care at this point and luckily I had made the tomatoes and used them as a moisturizer to my meal. Whatever works right! Will be tacking this dish again soon but changing my approach yet again.