Iran’s Favorite Dish: the Chelo Kebab

CheloKabab is a popular Persian dish which consists of cooked rice (Chelo) and a variety of broiled (Kebab) mutton or veal (though less popular) and is served with butter, egg yolk, powdered sumac, raw onions, broiled tomatoes, and fresh sweet basil. It is served in the form of a mound with some butter buried inside.

Different Chelo Kababs are usually named after the type of kabāb served with it. The drink traditionally served with Chelo Kabab is Dough, a beverage made with yogurt and water, in the past two decades, however, beverages such as Coca Cola have also become popular. Accord­ing to Nāder Mīrzā , the people of Tabrīz used to eat Chelo Kabab with cotton candy (pashmak) and Sekanjabin (sweet-and-sour mint drink).

One the CheloKabab's first distinguished fans: Nasser-e-din Shah (1831-1896) of the Qajar Dynasty (1785-1925)

The dish is not mentioned in the two culinary tracts of the 10th/16th century and was probably created in the Qajar period. It was part of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s diet and, according to Nader Mirza, a favorite dish of the people of Tabriz, where it was served in restaurants.

Serving of fresh skewers of Chelo Kabab in the city of Tabriz

Tabriz is famous throughout Iran for its culinary style of the CheloKabab dish and is also known for having popularized this throughout the country as well. There are still traditional restaurants in Tabriz that serve skewers almost a meter long!

Chelo Kebab Soltani

Strips of the fillet of the best-quality meat are marinated overnight in a mixture of finely chopped onions and saffron, then gently beaten flat with the back of a kitchen knife, and finally broiled slowly on a skewer over charcoal fire.

After the Kabab is cooked, it is placed on a platter or tray and pulled off the skewers with a piece of flat bread. The Kabab is then brushed with butter, decorated with onion rings and fresh sweet basil, and served with rice, butter, sumac, and broiled tomatoes. This highly regarded dish is a specialty of Tabrīz restaurants. In some restaurants it includes both kabāb-e barg and Kabab Koobideh.

Chelo Kabab-e Barg

This Kabab Barg is prepared like Kebab Soltani except that the meat pieces are cut into smaller chunks and saffron is omitted from the marinade.

Chelo Kabab e Koobideh

The ingredients consist of ground meat, grated onion, minced fresh sweet basil (only in a recent variety popular in Shiraz), salt, pepper, and egg yolk, which are mixed together and thoroughly kneaded. (In the past, the meat was placed in a bowl over steam and kneaded to melt the fat and mix it well with the meat.)

Then, small portions of the mixture are placed around wide skewers, which are slightly damp­ened with water, and pressed with the fingers. The skewers are then placed over a hot charcoal grill, and the fire is fanned immediately, until the Kabab turns brown­ish, then the Kabab is left to cook until it is done.

Finally the Kabab is placed between layers of flat bread to soak the fat and sprinkled with sumac and served with čelow. In another variety, Kabab e Digi (pot kabob), strips of the Kabab are broiled on a stove in a pot or a broiler tray. Kabab e Koobideh is also eaten with Iranian bread instead of rice, and in recent years many fast-food restaurants specializing in Kabab e Koobideh have opened in large cities.

Please check our Main course page to see all variations of Chelo Kebab!




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