B.C. man has researched treat in 60 countries over 25 years
Adrian Lam/CP PHOTOs
Dr. Anand Prakash holds up kebabs at home.
If Anand Prakash had his way, kebabs would be served alongside the ubiquitous hot dog at ballparks and other outdoor venues where crowds gather.
“I was introduced to pork kebabs in Puerto Rico while attending a baseball game,” says Prakash, a retired marine biologist and environmental consultant who lives in Victoria. “The kebabs were being sold as street food and I wondered why the idea hadn’t caught on in Canada.”
The name changes depending on the country of origin — kebabs or kabaub, kebap, shish kebab, souvlaki, brochette, satay or yakatori — but the idea remains the same: small chunks of meat, fish or shellfish are marinated then threaded on a skewer and grilled over wood or coals. Pieces of vegetables can also accompany the meat on the skewer.
For 25 years, he has been researching the delectable grilled treats and the result is a book, World of Kebabs (Whitecap).
Theories abound on where kebabs, which date to 500 BC, originated. Some believe they originated in ancient Turkey, others say a mountainous region between the Caspian Sea in the east and the Black Sea in the west, northeast of Turkey.
With kebab cookery, he says, you can feed two people “quite nicely'” with a 225 to 280 g (8 to 10 oz.) steak. It is, he stresses, a healthier way to eat: you enjoy eating meat, just less of it.
- Any type of meat — beef, pork, lamb, veal or poultry — is suitable for making kebabs.
- Tender cuts of meat do not require any special treatment except seasoning after the meat is cooked.
- Small pieces of fat or bacon inserted between lean meat pieces help baste kebabs as they cook.
Chicken Tikka Kebabs
Serves 4 as appetizer
MARINADE INGREDIENTS: 125 ml (1/2 cup) yogurt 30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil 5 ml (1 tsp) coriander 5 ml (1 tsp) ground cumin 5 ml (1 tsp) garlic paste 5 ml (1 tsp) ginger paste 2 ml (1/2 tsp) garam masala 2 ml (1/2 tsp) cayenne pepper 1 ml (1/4 tsp) turmeric 1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground nutmeg 0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) tandoori orange-red food colour
KEBABS: 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice 5 ml (1 tsp) salt 500 g (1 lb) boneless chicken thighs, cut into 4 cm (1-1/2-inch) pieces 2 long thin metal skewers 50 ml (1/4 cup) each of vegetable oil and water mixture for basting
- Combine lemon juice and salt in a non-reactive bowl, add chicken pieces and toss well to combine.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- In another non-reactive bowl, combine marinade ingredients thoroughly to obtain a smooth paste.
- Add chicken, along with any juices, to the paste. Mix well to coat each piece.
- Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
- Thread about 8 to 10 chicken pieces onto each skewer. Grill over medium heat, turning frequently and basting with oil and water mixture occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Let cooked chicken skewers rest for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove chicken from skewers and serve over a bed of raw sliced onions with lemon wedges.
- Serves 4 as an appetizer.
- WINE MATCH: German Gewurztraminer.
- NOTE: Garam masala and tandoori orange-red food colour can be obtained from stores selling Indian spices.