Kabab Tabei, Persian Pan Kebabs:

In some places on the world map, summer is BBQ and picnic season. Lahore is definitely NOT one of those places! We barely survive getting roasted ourselves in the simmering Lahori heat. But the heart wants what it wants, right! If the heart wants kebabs in 33 degrees C with 67% humidity, there are only two things you can do; go see a psychiatrist or make Kabab Tabei.

I chose to make Kabab Tabei. Why? Because it was an easier and more gratifying option, plus I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. Kabab Tabei or Pan Kebabs get done in a frying pan with a handful of ingredients, within 20 minutes. The best part – you don’t have to stand near the stove or grill to keep turning and flipping them. If you get the saffron rice going alongside, you can actually serve a pretty glam dinner within 30 minutes.

Kebabs have a special place in the Persian cuisine and Kabab Tabei got to be one of the most brilliant of creations as anyone can make them at home without a grill. Traditionally these kebabs are made with lamb or beef mince. In that case, you should marinate the mince with spices overnight for convenience. I make mine with chicken mince and that doesn’t really require marination. I just mix everything and flatten it in a frying pan to get very flavourful and moist kebabs in minutes.

The method of cooking these kebabs is most unique, as we actually cook a mince cake in pan and cut it into strips to get a kebab like shape. These juicy and aromatic strips are served over saffron rice with roasted vegetables on the side.

The aroma and soul come from special Persian spice mix – Adveih. It is easily available in middle eastern grocery stores but homemade is always more powerful and can be made in bulk to use as a marinade, dry rub, seasoning and condiment with a number of meat and rice dishes. Every cook makes their own blend, but most recipes include cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric. Some also add rose petals, nutmeg, black pepper and dry lemon. You can mix and match from these spices to create your own version with a little experience.

-Out of this list, you may find it hard to get rose petals, you can omit them and still make very tasty kebabs. Since I love the exotic flavour and aroma from rose petals, I add a few drops of rosewater if I run out of my stock of dried petals.

-While mixing the grated onions and minced meat, excess juices or liquid must be drained from them completely or the kebabs will disintegrate in the pan.

-To make the mince come together like dough, either briefly whiz it in the food processor or pick it up and throw it back with force in the mixing bowl or work top for around 50 times.

-Choose pan size according to the quantity of mince. The cake layer should be at least 1/2 to 1 inch thick for moist and juicy kebabs.

Now whether it’s too cold or too hot to turn on the grill, you can have the most delicious kebabs for dinner any day of the week, any time of the year!


For Kabab Tabei:

1/2 kg chicken, lamb or beef mince
1 small onion, grated
2 teaspoons Advieh(Persian Spice mix)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons gram or chickpea flour
2 tablespoons Olive or sunflower oil
2 tomatoes
2-3 big green chilli peppers

For Advei/Persian Spice Mix:

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground rose petals or a few drops rose water(optional)

For Saffron Rice:

2 cups long grain basmati rice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

This Is What You Do:

Mix all the ingredients of Advieh in a bowl to make Persian spice mix.

Rinse and soak rice.

Soak saffron in a little warm milk or water.

Add grated or finely chopped onion with meat mince in a bowl. Add salt, gram flour and Persian spice mix.

Meanwhile prepare rice. Add rice and salt to a deep pot of boiling water. Simmer till the rice are done.

Drain the rice through a colander and return to the pan. Add oil.

Reduce the heat to minimum low. Cover the lid in a cotton tea towel and put the lid on.
Cook on ‘dum’ for 10 minutes or till the rice are fluffy and all the moisture is soaked in the tea towel.

Pour in the saffron mix and cook covered another 10 minutes on very low heat.

Coming back to the kababs, add oil to a nonstick, 7inch, frying pan. Spread the mince in the pan and press down with hands lightly to even the surface. Place the pan on stove on medium low heat. Don’t stir at all.

Cook uncovered for 7-8 minutes or till the mince cake has somewhat hardened. Make deep long marks on the flattened mince cake in 1+1/2 inch wide rows with a spatula, butter knife or even a pizza cutter. Cover and cook another 8 minutes.

When the kabab strips are fried on one side, flip carefully, one strip at a time, to cook the other side till it is brown.

Remove kabab Tabei from pan. Lightly roast tomatoes and chilli peppers in the same pan.

Serve Kabab Tabei over saffron rice with roasted vegetables on the side.

Serves 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *