If you have lived or experienced the cuisine from the sub-continent, you would notice the BBQ culture that is predominantly found in the region. When roaming the markets you will be greeted with the sizzling sounds and the hot amber coals, lined with metal skewers, filled with different variants of beef, lamb, and chicken. As they are roasted over the scorching heat the streets are filled with rich smells of meat that would make your mouth salivate like a broken fire hydrant. Of these BBQ restaurants and food carts, the one thing common that you will find is most of them are run by an afghan descendant. With them, they have brought their rich BBQ culture, which shines across the many of favorite BBq and kabab dishes found across the Subcontinent such as Chopan Kabob/Kabab.
Afghan Chopan Kabob
Hailing from the Pushtun cuisine, which is heavily dominated by the use of different meat and dairy products due to low vegetation in the region. Chopan kabob can be considered as their specialty, and how they have mastered the art of roasting lamb. With the use of some simple ingredients with salt, ginger, garlic, and yogurt; complementing the gamy, and nutty flavors of the lamb that is laced with fat, giving you a burst of flavor as you bite into the meat.
Unlike other kebab recipes, rather than heavy use of grounded spices, we use the juices of onion. Marinating the meat in the onion juices would not just add to the flavor but also it would give the lamb a little bit of color and also help it tenderize it as the enzymes present in the onion and yogurt would help in breaking down the protein and giving you a more juicy and tender bbq. Additionally, you eliminate assing in the pulp that would most likely burn during the roasting process giving a biter an unpleasant flavor.
Selecting The Right Meat For Chopan Kabob
Another key ingredient when making any kebab is selecting the right part of the meat. The Younger the Lamber is, the more tender the meat would be, but most of the time it would be difficult to know the animal if you buy your meat from the supermarket unless you buy it from a butcher shop.
So for BBQ or Slow roasting, the best cut would be Shoulder, Loin, and Belly. For Chopan Kabab I love to make it with Lamb Shoulder and Shoulder chops slowly and at low heat. They may not be moist but they’re not tough and have a good meaty flavor that you are looking for in your kebabs/kababs. It’s better to Slow Roast it until it reaches an internal temperature of 180°F/82°C. Though it would be time-consuming the result would be worth it. To reduce the cooking time make sure to cut meat into small pieces.
3 kg Lamb Shoulder and Ribs with bone and fat, cunt into 2-inch
1 large Red Onion, 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Ginger paste
100 gr Yogurt
1 ¼ tbsp salt
½ tsp White pepper
Coriander Chutney & Naan to Serve
- In a Juicer add in red onion, so the juice is separated from the grounded pulp. Alternatively, you can blend the onion in a blender. Place a strainer over a large bowl. Drape either cheesecloth or a thin dish towel over the bowl. Pour the blended onion into the cheesecloth. The juice will drain and be collected in the bowl below and the onion pulp will be caught in the cheesecloth. Save the juice that will be used for marination.
- Marinade: Take a bowl and add in yogurt and whisk it smooth, making sure no lumps are left. Then add in the onion juice, salt, white pepper, garlic, and ginger paste in yogurt and mix it well till everything is combined.
- Add in your meat and the yogurt marinade in an airtight container and mix the lamb meat well so that the marinade is completely covering the meat. Can store it in the fridge for at least 4 hrs up to 24 hrs so the marinade can penetrate the meat adding in the flavor and making the meat tender when cooked.
- Before starting to cook, thread meat onto skewers. Make sure the skewers are compact and let them rest at room temperature for an hour before cooking.
- Charcoal BBQ: assemble all the charcoals in one side of your BBQ grill and Light the charcoal and once all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, and the heat radiating from it cools down a bit and spreads the coals a bit but do not spread all over the surface (We will be cooking it over indirect heat). Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill, and allow it to preheat for 10 minutes. Oil the grilling grate.
- Grill skewers on open BBQ, over on top of the grill surface with less heat as we will be cooking it over indirect heat. This will increase the cooking time but yield a more tender and flavorful kebab, as over low heat the fat will melt which will give it the flavor plus the bones as well.
- Cook the skewers until browned on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes per side. Remove to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.