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Salt & Wind Travel

Kabab Barg | Persian Beef Kebab

In my hometown of Los Angeles, there are a few super hot-button, divisive topics: the traffic, the Lakers, and the best French dip sandwiches. And, to that list, I’d add in Persian food and specifically who has the best kabab barg. In our opinion we have it, and you can have it too by following this Grilled Saffron Beef Persian Kebab Recipe.

{Kabab Barg} Grilled Saffron Beef Persian Kebab Recipe{Kabab Barg} Grilled Saffron Beef Persian Kebab Recipe

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This recipe for kabab barg is simple to make and super flavorful. It also has been modified to make it a little easier for the home cook. See, traditionally the meat for kabab barg is butterflied and tenderized into a long flat piece. You can do that at home by following these directions.

Also, traditionally the meat is cooked by being threaded onto flat metal skewers which are suspended directly over hot charcoal (as in no grill grate). Of course, most of us don’t have this set up at home so feel free to just cook them on a really well-oiled grill. This recipe is like going to a fine dining restaurant but at the comfort of your own home.

Recipe Ingredients

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this kabab barg recipe:

  • New York Strip Steaks or Top Sirloin Steaks or Filet Mignon: The meat doesn’t cook very long so you’ll want to use top-quality flavorful cuts.
  • Metal or wooden skewers: These are key to get everything to cook eveny.

For The Persian Kebab Marinade:

  • Saffron: The star ingredient in the marinade, quality saffron threads will bring a complexity to the recipe.
  • Greek Yogurt: Use whole milk, full fat for best results. 
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: A great olive oil will bring richness to the marinade.
  • Garlic And White Onions: These aromatics are the base of the marinade.
  • Lemon Juice: A bit of acid helps tenderize the meat and balance the marinade flavor.

For Basting The Persian Kebabs:

  • Butter: Unsalted butter will bring a little richness to the basting.
  • Saffron: Use even more saffron to double down on that key flavor. 

For The Vegetables:

  • Roma Tomatoes: These tomatoes are perfect since they’re not too big, not too small, and they don’t fall apart on the grill. 
  • Red Onion: Optional but who doesn’t love grilled onions!

For Serving:

  • Lavash: Either wrap the meat in the bread or serve it on the side along with rice.

How To Make This Recipe

These are the instructions to make this kabab barg recipe:

  • Soak The Saffron: Place saffron in a few tablespoons of hot water and let steep while you trim the meat.
  • Trim The Meat: Trim any excess fat from the steaks, then cut into 1-inch -by-2-inch rectangles that are about 1/2-inch thick, and place in a large nonreactive bowl.
  • Make The Kebab Marinade: Combine the yogurt, olive oil, white onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and saffron and saffron soaking liquid, in a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Marinate The Beef: Pour the marinade over the beef, toss to coat, cover and marinate 6 hours or up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare A Grill: When ready to cook, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (about 350°F) and rub the grill with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Remove the meat from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off.
  • Assemble The Skewers: Thread meat on skewers, stacking the long side (about 2-inch side) of the meat pieces one against another on the skewer. This is key to helping leaner cuts of beef stay juicy.
  • Make The Saffron Butter: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat and add the last pinch of saffron threads.
  • Prepare The Vegetables: Meanwhile, drizzle tomatoes, peppers, and onion with oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat thoroughly.
  • Grill The Kebabs: Place meat and tomatoes on grill. Cook meat, turning once, and basting a few times with the saffron-butter mixture, until charred and medium-rare, about 7 to 10 minutes. Cook the vegetables, turning rarely, until blistered and soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Serve: Remove meat and tomatoes from skewers. Stir together the cilantro and yogurt until well mixed. Assemble a sandwich as desired on lavash, with the meat, tomatoes, additional yogurt, thinly sliced onions, and greens. Squeeze some lemon over the top and serve.

Frequently Asked Questions

To make sure we're on the same page, let's define what a kebab is. Hailing from the Middle East, it is a dish of cooked meat that is often cooked on a skewer (but can be cooked on a spit or as a stew). They can be made with various types of meat (though it's often chicken, beef, or lamb) and can be made with chunks of meat or with ground meat. 

The best-known types of kebabs in the United States are probably the shish kebab or the Turkish doner kebab. But in Los Angeles, where we have more than 500,000 residents of Iranian heritage, Persian kebabs very much have their place. 

Okay, maybe it's only amongst food people who love Persian food but where to get the best Persian food and all styles of kebabs (aka kabab) quickly get heated. 

There are numerous types of Persian kebabs you can find across Los Angeles but here are the two most common types to know: 

Kabab koobideh

This Persian kebab is made with ground lamb or beef that is mixed with onions and black pepper and shaped onto a flat metal skewer resembling a mini sword and cooked until tender

Kabab Barg

Also known as Kabāb-e Barg, this is a Persian kebab made with lamb, chicken, or beef that is marinated in saffron, onions, and olive oil, and then grilled. 

The area of Westwood Boulevard around UCLA has so many Persian businesses, from restaurants to grocers and tea shops, it's known as Little Persia or Tehrangeles. And the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Wilkins Avenue is even named Persian Square.

While there are a lot of good restaurants in that area, my personal favorite is Darya. It's in a totally non-specific part of West LA that's a few miles from Westwood Boulevard, and you could blow by it if you weren't using GPS, but it's worth a visit. 

Other places may do other Persian dishes better (we're looking at you Fesenjan {Persian Walnut Pomegranate Stew}), but the Kabab Barg aka Grilled Saffron Persian Kebab at Darya is the winner. And, lucky enough, after working with them on a special for Food Network, I talked them into showing me how they make it!

The key is to blend the marinade and let the meat sit as long as you can handle it before your hunger gets the best of you (ideally 6 to 12 hours). Then very quickly cook — or, more aptly, sear the Persian kebabs — on the grill.

5 Tips For Making Persian Kabab Barg

Here are 5 few key tips we’ve learned in the years we’ve made this kabab barg recipe:

Choose Premium Cuts

You’ll want to use prime quality level meat and either filet mignon or sirloin steak. Cut the meat into 1-inch-by-2-inch rectangles and trim them well.

Use Quality Saffron

We like Kashmiri saffron as it has a great flavor but it isn’t easy to find. Look for saffron threads that have a deep red color and are at least 1-inch in length. Don’t ever use powdered saffron as it’s often mixed with other similar-colored spices like turmeric.

Don’t Skimp On The Marinade Time

This marinade works best when given at least 6 hours to do its magic. If you have less time, you still can make the recipe but it won’t be as flavorful.

Stack The Skewers

The traditional flat metal skewers work the best but you can make any skewer work. The trick is to stack the long side (about 2-inch side) of the meat pieces one against another on the skewer. This is key to helping leaner cuts of beef (like those in the recipe) stay juicy.

Cook The Meat Quickly

Speaking of, grill the meat as quickly as possible (just a couple minutes per side) so that it gets charred but is still medium rare by the time you serve it.

What To Serve With Persian Kabab Barg

The most traditional foods to serve with Persian kebab would be charred tomatoes, raw white onions, yogurt, and rice ( be it chelow or tahdig).

We prefer a mobile version where it’s wrapped up in warm lavash, tossed with grilled tomatoes, onions, and greens, and then topped with a dollop of tangy yogurt.

But, of course, you could mix it up and go non-traditional and serve the Persian kebab in a grain bowl or with a salad!

Okay, go stock up on all your cooking essentials then head into the kitchen, make this, and share it with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

{Kabab Barg} Grilled Saffron Beef Persian Kebab Recipe{Kabab Barg} Grilled Saffron Beef Persian Kebab Recipe

{Kabab Barg} Grilled Saffron Beef Persian Kebab Recipe

A simple recipe for classic Persian style beef kebab with a garlic, onion, and saffron marinade. This {Kabab Chenjeh} Grilled Saffron Beef Kebab recipe is not your regular Kebab.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
6 hours
Total Time 7 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 565.5 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 1/2 pounds New York Strip Steaks or Top Sirloin Steaks or Filet Mignon
  • 6 (12-inch) metal or wooden skewers  if wooden, soak in water for 15 minutes

For The Persian Kebab Marinade

  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 medium garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 medium white onion cut into sixths
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Freshly ground black pepper

For Basting The Persian Kebabs

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch saffron threads

For The Vegetables

  • 12 small Roma tomatoes
  • 1 medium red onion quartered
  • 1 medium bell pepper seeded and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil

For Garnish

  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Warmed whole wheat lavash or tortillas
  • Handful baby spinach or baby tatsoi (optional)
  • 1 lemon cut into sixths for serving, optional

Instructions
 

  • Soak The Saffron: Place saffron in a few tablespoons of hot water and let steep while you trim the meat.
    Trim The Meat: Trim any excess fat from the steaks, then cut into 1-inch -by-2-inch rectangles that are about 1/2-inch thick, and place in a large nonreactive bowl.
    Make The Kebab Marinade:  Combine the 1/2 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, white onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and saffron and saffron soaking liquid, in a food processor and process until smooth.
    Marinate The Beef: Pour the marinade over the beef, toss to coat, cover and marinate 6 hours or up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare A Grill: When ready to cook, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (about 350°F) and rub the grill with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Remove the meat from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off.
  • Assemble The Skewers: Thread meat on skewers, stacking the long side (about 2-inch side) of the meat pieces one against another on the skewer. This is key to helping leaner cuts of beef (like those in this recipe) stay juicy.
  • Make The Saffron Butter: Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat and add the last pinch of saffron threads.
    Prepare The Vegetables: Meanwhile, drizzle tomatoes, peppers, and onion with oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat thoroughly.
  • Grill The Kebabs: Place meat and tomatoes on grill. Cook meat, turning once, un and basting a few times with the saffron-butter mixture, until charred and medium-rare, about 7 to 10 minutes. Cook the vegetables, turning rarely, until blistered and soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Serve: Remove meat and tomatoes from skewers. Stir together the cilantro and yogurt until well mixed. Assemble a sandwich as desired on lavash, with the meat, tomatoes, additional yogurt, thinly sliced onions, and greens. Squeeze some lemon over the top and serve.

PERSONAL NOTES

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 565.5kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 53.2gFat: 34.5gSaturated Fat: 12.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 16.4gTrans Fat: 1.2gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 234.5mgPotassium: 1018mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 2281IUVitamin C: 58mgCalcium: 96.2mgIron: 7.3mg
Keyword Beef Kebab, Kebab recipe
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

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