Kebabeh sikhi (Afghan lamb skewers)
Prep time 30 mins (plus marinating)
Cook time 10 mins (plus preparing coals)
“This recipe is for skewered lamb kebabs cooked over charcoal, the type my grandfather would make with meat from the qurbani, the animal sacrifice made for Eid al-Fitr,” says Durkhanai Ayubi. “My mother recalls that during Eid, the celebration that follows Ramadan, the month of fasting observed by Muslims, her father would, after distributing meat to the needy, relatives and friends, set some aside to make these kebabs for his family. She remembers her father preparing the meat outdoors, skewering pieces to cook over hot coals in the garden. She remembers the sharp but warm aroma of the spices and meat crackling together and fusing with the scent of the coals, luring all the children out to take part. The joy of food for her father, she says, stemmed not only from melding ingredients and flavours, but also from his belief in the nurturing power of food, and how it became amplified when people came together to eat among the rows of lilacs, roses and poplars so lovingly cultivated in his garden.” Begin preparing this dish one day before serving, to marinate the meat and soak wooden skewers in water to prevent them from burning.
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 fresh long red chillies, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 kg diced lamb leg
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
60ml (¼ cup) sunflower oil
Naan flatbread, lime wedges and thinly sliced red onion, to serve
1. Blend the onion, chilli, garlic and 125ml water to a fine pulp in a food processor. Lay a piece of muslin over the top of a large bowl and strain the mixture through it, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible, and discarding the solids. Add the lamb to the strained marinade in the bowl, then add coriander, oil, 1½ tbsp salt, 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Mix well to combine and coat the meat, cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.
2. When you are ready to cook the kebabeh sikhi, start by preparing the coals, to give them enough time to reach the right heat; the coals should be evenly glowing orange before you begin cooking. This type of kebab is best grilled on a charcoal barbecue.
3. Thread the marinated lamb pieces closely onto metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers, leaving little space between each piece. Place them on the grill over the coals and turn occasionally for 7 minutes, or until both sides are evenly cooked. Be careful not to let the meat dry out or become too crisp on the outside through overcooking. Test a piece of lamb to ensure it’s cooked through but tender.
Serve with naan flatbread, lime wedges and thinly sliced red onion and fresh herbs for brightness and crunch.
Extracted with permission from the book Parwana by Durkhanai Ayubi. Recipes by Farida Ayubi with assistance from Fatema Ayubi. Buy the book here.