Friday, December 13, 2013

Befarmaeed Chelo Kabob...

Chelo kabob koobideh with doogh

These days you can find all sorts of restaurants in Iran, but in the past, the main reason to eat out was to have chelo kabobChelo kabob is probably the national dish of Iran. It consists of chelo, steamed white rice, and a kind of kabob: koobideh, made of ground beef or lamb, barg, beef or lamb tenderloin, joojeh (with or without bone), chicken kabob, or a combination of any of these. Chelo kabob is always served with grilled tomatoes, a plate of raw onions and/or herbs, and a sumac shaker. 

If you order koobideh, you get two skewers. The others usually just have one. You're usually served a plate of rice, and the kabobs all come together separately.  

Kabob koobideh
Kabob barg

There is a specific way to eat chelo kabob- the only way, the Iranian way. And here is how to do that:

1. Chelo comes with a slab of butter- mix in it the rice while it's still hot. 
2. Top the rice with sumac.  
3. The rice must be eaten like an Iranian- with a spoon (the fork is used to push everything into the spoon). 
4. Take a piece of kabob, rice and a bit of grilled tomato (without skin) in your spoon and eat it.
5. Here's where the raw onion comes in- as you are chewing, take a bite of the onion. Some people can't get past the very thought of biting into a raw onion, but give it a try! Or else try it with the herbs. Iranians always say that eating herbs with your meal creates a bigger appetite, eshteha miyareh.
6. There will also be yogurt (plain or maste moosir, yogurt with shallots) and bread on the table, so in between bites of kabob, feel free to dip the bread in the yogurt and eat it. (Or have it as an appetizer while you are waiting for your kabob).

The traditional drink to have with chelo kabob? Doogh, of course. Doogh is a yogurt drink (think of it as watered down yogurt) that can be either carbonated or non-carbonated. I like mine salty with lots of dried mint in it. Most restaurants will have two kinds of doogh and will ask which one you want: bottled or khoonegi, house doogh. Dooghe khoonegi is usually non-carbonated with dried mint. (Some people love doogh; for others, it's more of an acquired taste. Another thing to try, though, to make sure your kabob experience is 100% authentic Iranian.) 

**Note that this is a dangerous meal to have because the combination of chelo kabob and doogh will instantly put you in a coma. So make sure you don't have anything important to do afterwards. 

Chelo, koobideh and joojeh kabob, doogh, and maste moosir

Variety of kabobs all ready for grilling in Darband, Tehran
Homemade lamb and chicken kabobs

It's always nice to grill some kabobs at home for a get together/picnic. As the kabobs finish grilling, you pull them off the skewer with a piece of sangak bread and then just leave them in the bread so they stay warm. This bread then soaks up the juiciness of the kabob and is known as noone zire kabob, bread under the kabob. Noone zire kabob is a very dear part of Iranian cuisine, much like tadig, just perhaps not quite as common. Very often, Iranians have noon-o kabob, bread and kabob, instead of chelo kabob. If you go for the bread and kabob choice, it's best with plenty of fresh herbs. 

Koobideh in between sangak bread
Nooshe jan! 


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