My husband and I both have fond memories of our fathers firing up the grill in the backyard. When the skewers came out of hibernation, it was a sure sign that winter was finally over. Not only was my father the chief shish kebab maker in our household, he built our shish kebab machine and skewers as well.
Every Armenian family has its own twist on making shish kebab (known as khorovatz in Armenian circles), and some even have a secret ingredient or two. Recipes can vary a little — or a lot!
Here’s our rendition of an Armenian classic for shish kebab.
*Note: If unavailable, use ½ teaspoon paprika and dash of cayenne.
**Note: We love to roast more tomatoes, onions, and red or green peppers with our kebab, but it's best to cook them separately from the meat. Alternating meat and veggies on the skewers makes a nice presentation, but they don't all cook at the same rate.
- 1/2 leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped coarsely
- 1/4 Cup coarsely chopped parsley
- 2 Tablespoons freshly ground coriander
- 1/2 Teaspoon crushed Aleppo pepper*
- 2 Cups pomegranate juice
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
Put the lamb cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and parsley. Toss thoroughly. Add the coriander, crushed pepper, and pomegranate juice. Toss again. Cover and refrigerate overnight, mixing at least once.
Build a charcoal fire in a grill and let the flames die out. Place the lamb on skewers, then brush on the olive oil and season with sea salt, to taste, just before grilling. Position the skewers 5-6 inches over the hot coals. For rare, cook about 10 minutes; for medium-rare, cook about 15 minutes; and for well-done, cook about 20 minutes.
Save the marinated onions and tomato chunks but do not serve raw. Cook in a pan on the stove, or wrap in aluminum foil and cook on the grill until they reach the desired level of doneness.**