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“Street Meat” Grilled Lamb Kebabs

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As a mom, I look back on all the travel I experienced, before ever graduating from high school, and wonder if I’ll be as brave as my parents to entrust my children in the hands of a non-profit organization in some developing nation? 

No, my parents were not inattentive loons. They were always watchful and wise. This is how it all went down…

At age 14, I asked my parents if I could go on a trip overseas. I had all the information ready to hand them, and large pleading eyes fixed on their faces. They looked over the pamphlets. After discovering the cost was over $2700, they relaxed and casually stated I could go as long as I could raise the money. I’m sure they thought that would defuse the situation.

Protein Packed "Street Meat" Grilled Lamb Kebabs | ASpicyPerspective.com

They knew my persistent nature, but completely underestimated my level of resolve. After several months of car washes, candy bar sales, and an assortment of other fund raisers, I was purchasing my Malaria pills and packing my bags… Off to India!

After that I was hooked. Every summer through high school and college, an international adventure took place. At age 17, I spent a summer in China.

The China I know, is far different from what most tourists experience. Yes, we walked on the Great Wall, visited Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City, and traveled down the Silk Road.

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Yet we were there to study. Our group stayed in the North Western province of Xinjiang, in a city called Urumqi. Every day we took Mandarin language classes and Chinese History. Yet we also studied a second language, Uighur (or uyghur).

The Uighur language is spoken by, and named after, a select Turkish ethnic group in this far-removed area of China. The Uighur people are thought to be one of the oldest cultures in China, settling heavily in the North-west corner centuries ago. More recently, families have crossed over the Kazakhstan-China boarder in hope of a better life.

The language, culture and food in Xinjiang province is extremely different from that of most other Chinese provinces. A delicate mingling of Chinese and Middle-Eastern thought and tradition.

Easy "Street Meat" Grilled Lamb Kebabs | ASpicyPerspective.com

Most of the food we ate was street food. This is where the Uighur culture took center stage.

I can still see the bustling streets filled with vibrant colors, and vividly recall the noisy bantering, and fragrance of exotic spices simmering in hot oil. Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, mutton with large doughy stir-fried noodles, rice pilaf dishes, and naan with meat-on-a-stick were common fare!

The street vendors were always happy to share their goods and educate us on their dishes.

The meat used at these lively street carts was always mutton, or old goat, they would tell us. The fat was considered the choice cut, so each skewer was laced with a pattern of small morsels of meat and fat cubes. The skewers were then sprinkled with spice and grilled over open flames.

Simple "Street Meat" Grilled Lamb Kebabs | ASpicyPerspective.com

As I don’t have access to old goat, I often use well-marbled lamb steaks or beef chuck to replicate the fatty flavor.

Today’s “Street Meat” Grilled Lamb Kebabs are a nod to the fabulous skewers I ate on the streets of North-Western China. They are spicy and tender. A perfect main dish to serve with rice, veggies or naan!

"Street Meat" Grilled Lamb Kebabs | ASpicyPerspective.com
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"Street Meat" Grilled Lamb Kebabs

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Easy "Street Meat" Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Chinese and Middle-Eastern flavors. Reminiscent of the market street kebabs we ate in North-Western China.
Servings: 6


  • 2 pounds lamb chops or beef chuck
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Wooden skewers soaked in water 30+ minutes


  • Soak the wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Prepare grill to high heat. Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and place in a bowl.
  • Add the next 5 items and massage into the meat. Place the lamb/beef cubes onto the skewers.
  • Grill the skewers 3 minutes per side–turning once.


Serving: 2kebabs, Calories: 418kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 43g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 156mg, Sodium: 767mg, Potassium: 789mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 0g, Vitamin A: 255IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 5.7mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Middle Eastern
Author: Sommer Collier

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55 comments on ““Street Meat” Grilled Lamb Kebabs”

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  4. An amazing recipe! My husband loved this dish too. The street meat was so delicious and filling. A brilliant idea that is clever and every ingredient just works together beautifully. Thank you!

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  8. I am wondering if there is a way to make a less spicy version of the meat .I want to make it for my family but my younger sisters don’t like anything that is spicy. Thanks for this great recipe

  9. Hi, thankyou following me on tweeter, love reading your writing, i love street food in Hong Kong, been to China only for short stay, didn’t have time to try any street food… hope i have the chance soon. Good luck with your work. Mei

  10. This looks yummy.
    That Naan, can it be made with wheat powder?

  11. I adore naan, truly a wonderful story and fantastic dish!

  12. The naan and skewers (hard to find old goat) look fabulous – the stories and your experiences are delectable.

  13. What adventures you must have had every summer. It must be exciting to be off the beatentrack.

    This meal looks fantastic. Your pictures are gorgeous – very sharp and focused!

  14. wow…you have even been to Xinjiang and at 17!!! Very impressive.
    The kebabs and naan are great together!

  15. This looks incredible. I love the butterd naan and the spices on the meat. Somethign that is surely very comforting for me. Delicious! Lovely tot ravel so much too….

  16. You've had (and have) a truly enviable life! The naan and meat skewers both look totally mouthwatering! Last week I learned that traditional naan (it kinda shocked me) does not contain yeast, but yeasted naan is the only kind I've ever eaten and I LOVE it!

  17. This sounds delicious and I love all the photos!

  18. What a travel experience you've had. The food looks amazing. This is a fantastic dish! Great post! I really enjoyed reading your journey.

  19. I am so impressed by your travels at such a yound age. What amazing and unforgettable experiences you have now! This is a fantastic dish–I love how authentic it is!

  20. You certainly were an adventurous teen and an intrepid traveler! I'm sure your experiences have shaped your personal and culinary life. Thanks for sharing your stories and these two delicious recipes – I love naan, but have never tried to make it myself.

  21. your stories are really interesting.thank you for sharing this.

  22. I admire your commitment to raising the money and traveling. What amazing experiences you must have had. This food sounds incredible. Street food is always the best.

  23. Wow, you certainly were an adventurous teenager. This looks so good. I couldn't eat the naan but the street meat looks delicious!

  24. It was nice to read your experience and the naan n the meat looks awesome.

  25. Mmmm! Looks YUMMY!

    Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog.
    Have a nice day!

  26. What a fabulous childhood you had! Traveling the world by age 14!? I'm jealous.. China is still a country I'd like to make my way too.. some day :) In the mean time I might just have to eat your delicious food!

  27. Wow Sommer! What amazing experiences! I would love for my children to have the opportunity to do this one day.

    Your uigher looks really tasty!

  28. You were very fortunate to have those experiences. I would love to try this dish. It looks marvelous!

  29. wow, that bread looks amazing. i never was an exchange student or traveled abroad but it is definitely an experience i want my children to have.

  30. Mmmm, looks delicious. That's awesome that you got to spend the summer in China at that age. When I was 18, I spent a month in France and it was such a GREAT experience.

  31. Great post and story…this dish looks so fun and I am sure is delicious :)

  32. What great experiences you must of had – enough to give you a life time of memories! Your recreation looks delicious! Much better than old goat…

  33. How wonderful to travel when your young and what a great kid to raise your own money…I bet your parents were proud..I love this kinda of food, street food is so comforting and fuss free…great ingridients and perfect balance of flavors…great recipes, I lov eyour naan…

  34. wow that place sounds absolutely amazing how cool and amazing skill in the kitchen
    good for your parents for letting you go hope Jasmine wants to will call you


  35. What an amazing experience! You were an adventurer even at 17! And this naan looks amazing.

  36. What a fascinating story! I had no idea you were a traveler at heart. And judging from the pictures above, I'm sure we agree street food is the best part of travelling :)

  37. love homemade naan this is a lovely meal

  38. sounds like you have had quite the adventures! No wonder your recipes are so eclectic and cultured!

  39. Hey Sommer! Wow, you were an adventurous kid! I always worked for my $$ too, but I was a horder (smile). Funny though, as I did end up spending a lot of my teenage earned money in Europe.
    Ooh, and this street meat sounds wonderful. It actually also reminds me of Algerian food. I guess the Turkish influence here makes sense, as they affected North Africa's cuisine too…
    p.s. your photos here are stellar!

  40. We love kebabs. And i have some meat in teh freezer that will be perfect!

  41. Found you via mom bloggers club, and am your newest twitter follower. Hope to see you by my blog too.

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  42. That is a dish I adore and make! Yours looks delicious. Fusion food, indeed!



  43. I hope my children (when I have them) can have similar experiences. I think it's great you had a family that supported your adventurous spirit.

  44. I love this post- especially the background story. I think I need to try your naan recipe :)

  45. What great adventures you had! I'm so envious :) I did travel around the country a bit, and to Europe, but I've never traveled Asia, and would love to.

  46. When I was in college a roommate and I backpacked across Europe and made a pit stop in Africa…we decided before we went that we would not tell our parents until we got back since they had sort of forbidden us to go. It ended up being safe and one of our coolest experiences! Although, when I have kids I would def. not be happy with them if they did the same. We love to eat naan in our house and I am tempted to try this recipe. Sounds great!

  47. My parents were open minded too and let me travel as well. But I must admit that things were a little bit different back then. I know the precious knowledge one gets from traveling. It makes you see things under a totally different perspective. I wish I will have the strwngth to le my son do the same thing. Your dish looks absolutely fantastic!

  48. What an amazing meal! I too traveled extensively during high school (spent most of my time in Africa) and I don't know if I will be nearly as brave with my own children as my parents were with me. I had some friends that visited this region of the world, and they brought back so many amazing stories. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  49. Wow…I never had it before clearly I'm missing big time, I love the spices combination and that naan bread looks delicious. Have a great week.

  50. Traveling opens up your horizon. I hope that I will be as brave as your parents and mine with my children. I imagine it is very hard to let them travel so far away, especially at a younger age. What wonderful experiences you must have collected.
    This is a great dish that also a lot of Mediterranean countries serve in different variations. You can find an old goat anywhere.
    Thanks for sharing your travels and recipe!

  51. Wow, I've never had Uighur dishes before, but this looks great. And you were one determined kid!

  52. What amazing travel experiences you've had! The naan and those skewers look amazing, thanks for sharing these special recipes!

  53. You're the second person I know who learned Uighur! A dear friend from college had learned it. This is a fantastic recipe – thanks! I admit – Indian-Chinese fusion food is terrific.