Juicy Kabob Koobideh (Tutorial)

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Kabob Koobideh is a popular Persian kabob recipe that’s so juicy and delicious. Made with minced meat and onion, this kabob recipe is famous for good reason. If you follow my detailed tutorial, you’ll learn how to make the perfect koobideh every time.

kabab koobideh on a plate with rice and tomatoes.


 

If you’re familiar with Persian cuisine, you’ll know that kabobs and grilled meat are cherished, and one of the most popular kabobs in just about any Persian restaurant or family is koobideh kabob. Persian barbecue stands apart from others in terms of both flavor and technique. Alongside koobideh kabob, other beloved Persian kabobs include joojeh kabab, chenjeh, and kabab torsh, each featuring a unique ingredient like saffron. Follow along as I guide you through the detailed process of preparing kabob koobideh, an all-time favorite Persian kabob known for its juiciness and craveable flavors.

Tips To Make The Best Koobideh

  1. The meat: You can either grind the meat yourself or use store-bought ground beef. It’s very important to make sure that the meat contains enough fat; otherwise it’ll fall off the skewers.
  2. Onion: What makes a good koobideh is the onion to meat ratio. The amount of onion used in the recipe should be 1/4 of the amount of meat. For example. If you’re using 2 lbs of meat, you need 1/2 lb onion. You should grate or puree the onion in a food processor, place it in a cheese cloth and squeeze to remove all the excess liquid prior to weighing it.
  3. Knead: When you think you’ve kneaded the meat mixture long enough, knead it some more. The mixture should look paste-y and feel sticky.
  4. Have it all ready: Koobideh cooks very quickly, therefore it’s best to form the kabob on all the skewers prior to grilling. Also, be sure to have a pot with a lid on hand to keep the cooked koobideh warm while the rest is grilling.
Close up shot of kabob koobideh.

The Grill

The koobideh skewers should not touch the grates when grilling. The classic approach to making koobideh calls for mangal, a rectangle charcoal grill with removable or no grates. Using this type of grill is recommended since the kabob skewers won’t touch anything (including grates) while being cooked.

However, since mangals are not available to everyone, here are a couple of tips on how to use whatever charcoal or gas grill you have at home:

  • If using a gas grill, make sure it’s heated to high heat (about 450 degrees F). This will prevent the meat from falling off the skewers. If using a charcoal grill, make sure they are glowing, have no smoked and are lightly covered with ashes.
  • If you have a grill with grates that you cannot remove, buy a couple of flat sided metal pipes from the hardware store and place them parallel to each other on top and bottom of the grill and set the skewers on them so the kabobs don’t touch the grates. Alternatively, you can use bricks instead of pipes.

Kabob Koobideh Ingredients

  • Meat: You can use lamb, beef or a combination of both. I recommend using half lamb and half beef. Lamb already contains enough fat but you need to make sure the beef has at least 20% fat content for the mixture to have the right consistency. It’s possible to grind the meat at home, in which case I recommend using lamb ribs and beef chuck to get the proper fat content.
  • Onion: While or yellow onion works best for this recipe. The key is to ensure that the amount of onion is 1/4 of the meat. You should weight the onion after grating and squeezing out all the excess juice using a cheese cloth.
  • Saffron: Make sure to check out my tutorial on how to bloom saffron. While saffron adds a lot of flavor to the kabob, if you don’t have it, simply leave it out and still make the recipe, it’s going to be good.
  • Spices: All you need is salt and pepper. Season generously.

How To Make Kabob Koobideh

Make the mixture, refrigerate, form on the skewers and grill.
  1. Begin by thoroughly mixing ground meat and grated onion until well combined. If available, use a meat grinder or the meat grinder attachment for a stand mixer to process the ground beef, lamb, and onion once, then continue mixing by hand.
  2. Add bloomed saffron, salt, and pepper to the meat and onion mixture. Knead the mixture by hand for an additional 10 minutes. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. When ready to grill, remove the mixture from the fridge and keep a bowl of warm water nearby to prevent sticking. Take a handful of the mixture and shape it into an oval ball. Press the ball onto a 1-inch wide skewer. Wet your hands again and use your fingers to spread the meat along the skewer, forming a 6-inch long kebab with a thickness of ¼ to ½ inch on each side.
  4. Create indentations from top to bottom using your thumb and index finger to ensure the meat sticks to the skewer. Using your index and middle finger, remove a small piece from each end of the meat on the skewer to secure it completely. Repeat these steps with the remaining meat and skewers until all kabobs are formed.
  5. Arrange the prepared skewers on a rimmed baking sheet, ensuring the meat doesn’t touch the sheet. Thread tomatoes onto a separate skewer.
  6. Preheat the grill until the charcoal is uniformly glowing and partially covered with ashes, or until the grill reaches a very high temperature to ensure the meat sticks to the skewers. Have a pot with a lid and some lavash nearby.
  7. Once the grill is ready, place the skewers on the grill and continuously flip them to prevent the meat from falling off. Each kabob skewer should take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook, while the tomatoes will require approximately 15 minutes.
  8. Using a piece of lavash, loosen both ends of the kabab from the skewer and slide it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid to keep the kabobs warm while you continue grilling the rest.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, koobideh kabob is served with Persian rice with tahdig (chelow) and a generous sprinkle of sumac. You can find chelow kabab (rice and kabob) in many Iranian restaurants around the world. Alternatively, you can serve koobideh with saffron rice or even albaloo polo (sour cherry rice) as well.

Every plate of koobideh is always accompanied by some grilled tomatoes and sabzi khordan (herbs). It’s also common to have some mast-o khiar (yogurt and cucumber) and well as freshly baked lavash on the side.

Overhead koobideh kabob with rice, sumac and tomatoes.

Storage and Reheating

This Persian minced meat kabob is always best right off the grill, but if you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, wrap them in aluminum foil or place them in a pan and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Then reheat in the oven at 300 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until fully warm.

While it’s possible to freeze koobideh, I don’t recommend it. The texture and flavors would change and it just won’t be as good. However, you can freeze the mix of ground beef and lamb, without the onion, and thaw and make the koobideh when you’re ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use chicken to make koobideh?

That would be a different recipe. Chicken koobideh is a completely different dish that we’ll publish in the near future.

My kabob keeps falling off the skewers, what went wrong?

There could be a few reasons for this: first, the meat mixture may not have enough fat content. Second, the mixture may not be kneaded enough for it to have a paste-y consistency. It’s also possible that the skewers were not flipped constantly once they were placed on the grill.

Can I make kabob without a grill?

Yes, however, I recommend using either my kabab tabe-i or kofta kebab recipe to make this delicious dish at home.

More Grilling Recipes

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kabob koobideh on a plate.
5 from 12 votes

Kabob Koobideh Recipe

Kabob Koobideh is a popular Persian kabob recipe that's so juicy and delicious. Made with minced meat and onion, this kabob recipe is famous for good reason. If you follow my detailed tutorial, you'll learn how to make the perfect koobideh every time.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6
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Equipment

  • Charcoal Grill Mangal

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 tsp ground saffron
  • 1 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef , 80% lean
  • 3/4 lb white onion , Weigh after grating and squeezing out the excess liquid
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 roma tomatoes

Instructions 

  • Sprinkle the ground saffron on 3 cubes and ice and leave it to melt at room temperature. This will be your bloomed saffron.
  • In a large bowl, mix the lamb, beef and grated onion using your hands until all is very well combined. This would take about 15 minutes.
  • Add in the salt, pepper and bloomed saffron, then knead again for at least 10 more minutes until the mixture is sticky with a paste-like consistency and very well combined. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
  • Once you're ready to grill, take the mixture out of the fridge and have a bowl of warm water close to you.
  • Grab a fistful of the mixture and form it into an oval shaped ball and press it onto a 1-inch wide skewer. Wet your hands again and spread the meat on the skewers using your fingers until you have a 6 inch long kebab with about ¼ to ½ inch thickness on each side.
  • Using your thumb and index finger, make indentations from top to bottom to ensure the meat is sticking to the skewer. Using your index and middle finger, remove a small piece of each end of the meat on the skewer to make sure it’s fully stuck to the skewer. Repeat with the remaining meat and skewers. Place all the prepared skewers on a rimmed baking sheet so the meat doesn’t touch the sheet. Thread the tomatoes on a skewer as well.
  • This kabob is best on charcoal grill (mangal) where the skewers are set above the burning charcoal to cook with the heat. The kabobs should not touch the grates so if you cannot remove the grill grates, place two flat-sided metal pipes or a few bricks parallel to each other either side of the grill to have the skewers elevated.
  • Preheat the grill. If using charcoal, make sure they're not smoking and are uniformly glowing, they should be partially covered with ashes. Your grill should be very hot for you to start grilling the kabobs.
  • Have a pot and a lid and some lavash at hand. Once the grill is hot, place the skewers on the grill and constantly flip to make sure the meat doesn’t fall off. It takes about 3 to 4 minutes for each koobideh to be ready. The tomato will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Using a piece of lavash, loosen both ends of the kabab on the skewer and slide it into the pot. Cover with the lid so it doesn’t get cold while you’re grilling the rest.
  • Serve kabob koobideh with rice, grilled tomatoes and herbs.

Video

Notes

  1. It’s important that the ground beef is no leaner than 80% for the kabob mixture to be sticky enough. 
  2. If desired, brush the kabob koobideh with some melted butter and saffron right before removing from the grill.
  3. You should flip and rotate the kabobs immediately after putting them on the grill and constantly do so. This way the meat will cook evenly and won’t fall off the skewers. 
  4. Watch the video for complete tutorial on how to make, form and grill kabob koobideh. 

Nutrition

Calories: 643kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 1311mg | Potassium: 792mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 519IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Truly delicious recipe, poppy flavors and I love the addition of bloomed saffron! Adding this to my recipe box, will be making it again soon! Thank you!