Zesty “Street Meat” Grilled Lamb Kebabs make a powder-packed main dish!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.