Uighur Lamb Kebobs and Pulao

By • June 7, 2011 • 5 Comments

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Author Notes: In the Chinese City of Kashgar in the Xinjiang province of Western China, this dish is standard lunch fare at the outdoor markets. Men set up shop with a fresh lamb or goat carcass, a charcoal fired grill cart and a large pot, and sell plates heaped with pulao, an Uzbek version of pilaf, and lamb kebabs which you eat with your hands. I will tell you, the pulao is made with the fatty parts of the lamb, and a lot of suet and oil, so I found it greasier and gamier tasting than we Yanks would like, so I've adapted the recipe a bit to lighten it up, and brighten up the flavor a bit. I didn't have a recipe for the kebabs, other than watching the men grill it, but the flavors and ingredients weren't hard to guess, and after a bit of research and experimentation, this is pretty damn close to the original. This is served with their traditional flatbread, a Nan, for which I posted a recipe here: http://www.food52.com/recipes/12353_uighur_nan/2Burnt Offerings

Serves 8-10

Uighur Lamb Kebobs

  • 1.5 pounds leg of lamb, lamb loin, or shoulder, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons Pomegranate molasses or 1/3 cup Pomegranatejuice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted, ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 6 ounces lamb suet (optional)
  • 8 bamboo or metal skewers
  1. Place the onion, garlic, oil, molasses, salt, cumin, pepper, and cayenne in a small food processor and process into a paste.
  2. Add the paste to the lamb, mix well, and marinate for 2 hours, refrigerated.
  3. Soak the bamboo skewers for at least 30 minutes in water to avoid them burning. Prepare a charcoal grill with medium coals.
  4. Thread the lamb onto the skewers alternating each piece with a small piece of suet. This is the traditional method. The suet melts and flavors the lamb. I usually skip this step, but it does make it juicy. Don't crowd the lamb pieces on the skewer.
  5. Grill the kebobs, turning every 2 minutes or so, for about 8 minutes total, until they are cooked and have nice grill marks.
  6. Serve with pulao, Nan and a cold beer.

Uighur Pulao

  • 1 pound boneless lamb leg, shoulder or loin chopped into tiny pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion finely diced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • 3 dried chiles - whole
  • 1 head of garlic, whole, unpeeled, cut in half
  • 2 cups medium grain rice - Valencia is good for this.
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  1. In a large pot, heat the Canola oil over medium heat, add the lamb, and brown on all sides, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and carrots, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are starting to soften, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the water, chiles, and garlic,and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the rice and spices, bring back to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, add the sultanas, and cook for another 20 minutes until the rice has absorbed the water.
  5. Serve with Kebobs and Nan.
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Tags: barbecue, ethnic, savory, savory

Comments (5) Questions (0)

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over 2 years ago davegorf

As to the garlic. Is the unpeeled head removed for serving or is it supposed to be a little treat that the diner finds and relishes? Would love to know. I assume there is a gentle garlic flavor obtained but I wouldn't want to "waste" a whole head of garlic. Dave

Linda_cooking

over 3 years ago Beautiful, Memorable Food

Awesome! I also love Chinese Muslim food and wrote about a burger inspired by it this week. I haven't been to Xinjiang but would love to. On the streets of Flushing NY there is a great cart selling these kabobs you've made here year round-- there is nothing better on a frigid winter night to warm you up.

Meg_b_f52

over 3 years ago meganvt01

I love this area of the world for exactly these type of recipes, thanks for putting this together, it looks delicious. Is lamb suet terribly hard to come across?

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Not at all, it's the thick waxy fat you cut from the lamb. Any butcher should be able to give you some, and actually, depending on the piece you get, you may be able to trim enough from it to make kebobs. Get some lamb shoulder - you should have plenty to work with.

Lorigoldsby

over 3 years ago lorigoldsby

sounds delicious...I can almost smell the smoke ;)