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Kebab (kebap in Turkish, kabab in Iran, Afghanistan, India and Middle-East, also spelled kebob, kabob; Urdu: کباب) means "grilled (or broiled) meat" in Persian and Greek. Kebab is usually made of lamb and beef. Sometimes chicken and fish are used for some styles.
The word kebab means ‘to cook on open fire’. The term can also be referred to as a meat patty mixed with spices.
Ibn Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveler has mentioned that Kebab was an integral part of the daily diet of Indian royalty as early as 1200 Middle Eastern.
Afghan, Turks and Persians brought it to the Indian kitchens long before the Mughals ventured in. The pre-Mughal Kebab was more about marinade, and meat being more of rustic chewy chunks, char-grilled in open ovens. With the Mughals it evolved into a delicacy, that was soft and succulent, made richer with aromatic spices and dry fruits.
"India being traditionally a vegetarian country, was not the birthplace of kebabs. Only the territories that depended on wild game, like Rajputana have a meat eating history. No wonder the first evidence of meat, which has a remote similarity with kebab is Soola (Maans Ka Soola) which was made with game meat, mostly wild boar or deer."
"If you look at the political boundaries and collaborate it with history, the trail followed by Changez Khan's army transecting Mongolia, Middle-East and up to Spain and around, saw the evolution of kebabs in various forms. Though we have Yakitori in Japan and Satay in Indonesia and Malasia, but in sauces and spices they cannot be compared with kebabs" adds Sikka.
It certainly has a lot of Mughal influence which can be seen in the process of cooking that uses a lot of cream and cashew nut. Made with boneless chicken, it is cooked by marinating chunks of meat in curd, cream, cashew nut paste, spices and then grilled in tandoor. It has a crusty upper layer and a soft inside.
Kebabs are considered to have originated in Turkey when soldiers used to grill chunks of freshly hunted animals skewed on swords on open field fires. The name was firstly discovered in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusuf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebab is stated as a food item.
There are numerous varieties of kebab, some of the most famous ones include shish kebab, which is another skewered and roasted kebab.
Koyun kebabi is a whole lamb roasted in a covered pit. Kabarma kebabi is very common, and kefenli kebabi is a unique kind of roast meat wrapped in a bread. In Arabia, shish kebab or lahm mishwy (grilled meat) is essentially a part of traditional food. True shish kebabs are made with pieces of marinated lamb that is attached to a bladed metal skewer that is four sided and flat to grill.