This sweet-and-sour kebab is from Gilan Province in northern Iran, where people like their food extra tart. Its name in Farsi is "kebab-e torsh," or "pickled kebab," so named for the sour pomegranate marinade that gives it its flavor. The russet-colored marinade uses the same ingredients as the classic Persian stew known as Fesenjan, and is one of the tastiest discoveries I made while researching this book. Before grilling the kebabs, brush off the extra marinade, because it can burn and leave charred flakes on the meat. You can also make these kebabs using beef sirloin, fish, chicken, or vegetables. Start this recipe the day before you plan to serve it so that the kebabs can marinate overnight. (This recipe is from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia). —Louisa Shafia
lamb tenderloin or boneless shank or neck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
garlic cloves, crushed
loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra chopped for garnish
Place the meat in a large casserole dish. In a food processor, grind the walnuts, pome- granate molasses, garlic, and oil into a puree. Add the parsley and pulse into small bits. Pour the marinade over the meat and toss well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in salty water for a couple of hours before grilling. Thread 3 or 4 pieces of meat onto each skewer 1/4 inch apart, leaving 2 inches of space at the end. Discard the marinade. Brush or wipe extra marinade from the skewers. Leave the meat out while you heat the grill so it can come up to room temperature (no more than 45 minutes total).
Prepare a hot grill.
Lightly oil the grill and grill the kebabs for 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally. When done, the meat should be slightly charred on the outside and very pink on the inside. Transfer to a serving platter and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Vegetarian option: Replace the lamb with 2 pounds tempeh, cubed; 2 pounds vegetables, such as zucchini, red onions, and mushrooms, cubed; or a combination of tempeh and vegetables. Marinate overnight according to the recipe.
I'm fascinated by the way food connects us with different times, places, and each other. I live in Nashville, TN, a city rich with culinary traditions and a fast growing immigrant population. As Culinary Liaison for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, I organize events that unite people around food and spotlight the work of immigrant chefs. My cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is a winner of Food52's Piglet award. I love cooking Iranian rice and hearing people crunch on the crispy tahdig from the bottom of the pot. Find my Persian Rice Bonnet and Persian Spice Kit on my website and on Etsy.