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I have always loved shish kebabs, but have found it difficult to get good ones at restaurants in this area. Instead of grilling pieces of nice-quality lamb, it is usually some kind of lamb sausage that does no justice to the dish.
When I lived in London, there was a little Indian take-out at the end of Kings Road called The Kebab Kid – it had the best kebabs ever. This recipe is similar to theirs.
It’s my best attempt for a great shish kebab recipe: a divide-and-conquer approach.
Grill the meat and vegetables on different skewers to allow foods with different cooking times to reach the perfect degree of doneness.
Turkish shish kebabs with garlicky tahini
• 6 garlic cloves, crushed
• 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 teaspoon dried mint
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 11Ú2 pounds trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut into 11Ú2-inch cubes
• 1 small bunch of fresh mint
• 1 large red onion, cut into 2 inch pieces
• 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
• 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
• Vegetable oil, for the grill
• Garlicky tahini (recipe follows)
• Lemon wedges and pita bread for serving
In a large bowl, combine the garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, salt, pepper, dried mint and oregano. Add the lamb, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 3 hours.
Thread the lamb onto skewers, placing 1 fresh mint leaf between the pieces of meat. Skewer alternative pieces of onion and bell pepper and brush lightly with olive oil.
Light the grill. Lightly brush the grate with vegetable oil and grill the lamb and vegetables over a medium-hot fire, turning frequently, until the lamb is medium-done, about 6 minutes, and the vegetables are tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Let the kebabs stand for 2 minutes, then serve with garlicky tahini, lemon wedges and pita bread.
Cooks throughout the Middle and Near East serve this creamy, garlicky condiment as a sauce for grilled lamb. It is also wonderful with chicken or swordfish.
• 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
• 1Ú3 cup tahini
• 1Ú3 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1Ú3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1Ú3 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1Ú2 teaspoon freshly ground
1 T. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a blender, purée the garlic with the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, water, salt and pepper until smooth. If the sauce appears thick, add a little more water. Scrape the sauce into a bowl, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
The tahini can be refrigerated for one week. Bring to room temperature and stir before serving.
• Molly Gingell owns Molly’s Gourmet Catering, takeout and cooking school at 220 W. John St.