In Turkish, shish kebab means ‘gobbets of meat roasted on a spit or skewers.’ Shish kebab is probably the most famous preparation for grilled lamb. It is said that shish kebab was born over the open fires of the soldiers of the Turkic tribes that invaded Anatolia (Turkey), who used their swords to grill meat.
They were the fore-runners of the Ottoman Turks who ruled Makkah, Madinah, Jerusalem and the Muslim world for over 500 years till 1925.
In the Arab world, the same preparation is called lahm mishwy (grilled meat). The true shish kebabs are pieces of marinated lamb fixed to metal skewers that are grilled over a fire, without the meat ever touching the grilling grate. The varieties of marinades are wide and include olive oil, lemon juice, onion juice, milk, yoghurt, etc.
Using tomatoes, onion wedges, and green bell pepper to separate the meat on the skewers is a modern concoction invented by Muslim Turkish restaurateurs to make the skewers look more attractive. The word kebab means ‘to roast,’ which is what grilling is. There is orman kebabi which is whole roasted lamb, hacci osman kebabi, a roast on a revolving spit; koyun kebabi is a whole lamb roasted in a covered pit; kabarma kebabi is a grilled spatchcocked fowl.
From Turkey, the shish kebab spread to Arabia and the West.
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