Chelo Kebabs and Cucumber Yogurt Salad

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Chelo Kebab from And Here We Are...

So, how are we all doing with winter?  Hanging in there? Our winter has been pretty mild, but I am still getting that ache for brighter, longer days. I self-medicate with flavors that come from sunny climes, making foods I associate with summertime. Lately, it’s Chelo Kebab. These are super-quick to make, freeze easily, are budget friendly, and most importantly, seriously delicious. We buy ground beef every week, and this is one of those things that I can whip up quickly when I don’t know what else to make. A few condiments, olives and some cauliflower rice round out the meal easily, and we’re all happy.

Chelo Kebab 1

Chelo Kebab Recipe

This recipe is an adaptation from Ariana Bundy’s recipe from her gorgeous cookbook, Pomegranates & Roses. And I will just go ahead and tell you right now that you should double the recipe because these are great as leftovers for lunch!

What You’ll Need

  • 1 medium onion, skinned and cut into quarters
  • 1 lb (500g) fatty ground beef or lamb (I usually ask my butcher to give me a blend of 75% beef, 25% lamb)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • a generous pinch of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • chopped fresh herbs like coriander (cilantro) or parsley to garnish, optional
  • chili flakes and ground sumac to garnish, optional
  • lemon wedges to garnish, optional
  • Equipment: You will want to use a food processor for this recipe (it’s possible to make it without, just a lot more work) and a rimmed baking sheet. Shish kebab skewers are optional.

What to Do

  1. Put the onion into the food processor and let it chop it up fine. Gather the onions to one side of the workbowl and use a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to press as much liquid out as you can.
  2. Add the meat, salt, spices and baking powder, and process for about 30 seconds to one minute. You want the meat to be smooth and well-blended. This might seem weird, but it works!
  3. Form the meat into kebabs. It will be sticky, and if you want you can dip your fingers into a bowl of cold water between  kebabs to make them less sticky. You can either put them on kebab skewers, or just form them into a long sausage shape and place them on the baking sheet. (The authentic way to form them is to make them much thinner and longer than the ones you see here. I do them like this because it’s much easier, logistically.)  If you have more than you need, or are cooking ahead, you can put them on an extra baking sheet to flash freeze.
  4. Cook them under the broiler under full heat. This will be very quick, about 3-4 minutes on each side. You’ll know they’re done when they start to brown a bit and smell ridiculously good. For the ones that you have frozen, bake straight from the freezer at 450 F for 8-10 minutes on each side.
  5. Garnish the chelo kebabs with fresh herbs and lemon wedges, and serve with cucumber yogurt salad and rice (we do cauliflower rice.)


Cucumber Yogurt Salad

Cucumber Yogurt Salad

This is a really simple, adaptable salad that’s light and refreshing.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 t salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs– one or any combination of the following: dill, mint, coriander (cilantro) parsley or oregano
  • 1 T good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • Half of an English cucumber, chopped into fine dice.

What to Do

  1. Combine everything except for the cucumbers into a bowl, and whisk together until the olive oil is fully incorporated. Taste and see if this dressings needs more salt or lemon juice.
  2. Stir in the diced cucumber and garnish with fresh herbs, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  3. Enjoy! We eat this as a salad itself, or as a dip or condiment.

Chelo Kebab Cucumber Yogurt Salad from And Here We Are...

This is a family favorite that we make all of the time. I hope you will enjoy it, too!And-Here-We-Are-Cookbook-Ad-1024x462

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45 Responses to Chelo Kebabs and Cucumber Yogurt Salad

  1. Andi January 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    I struggled with making kebabs (and meatballs!) for YEARS because they never had the right consistency. Food processors make all the difference, especially in the states with our coarse-ground meat. I can’t wait to try these.

    • ariana January 10, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      Andi, I thought it was weird to whiz meat into a paste when I first read the recipe! But putting a little baking powder makes it lighter, and totally “worked.” This is why I love cookbooks from other food cultures– so many new ideas and things to learn!

  2. fairytalehausfrau January 11, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Thanks so much for sharing this–I plan to make it next week!

    • ariana January 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      Great! Let me know how your family likes it!

  3. Shut Up and Cook January 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    This looks fabulous! I’m living in Paris for January and February on a culinary adventure and personal journey and have been looking for lighter meal ideas to make in my flat to offset all the fromage et baguettes et creme brulee I’ve been consuming.


    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • ariana February 17, 2014 at 10:29 am #

      Wow, that sounds like a super cool experience! And yes– something lighter will definitely be in order!

  4. Ann January 19, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was so delicious that I will be adding it to the weekly rotation along with spatchcocked chicken. Thank you for sharing this with your fans.

    • ariana February 17, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Oh, I’m so glad you loved it and have been able to use my recipes! And thank you for taking the time to let me know, Ann.

      • Jane March 29, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

        This sounds an amazing meal and I’m so curious about the Paleo diet in the hope it will help my IBS. I have an unreliable broiler so could i bake the kebabs instead from fresh? If so, how long would they take to cook and at what temp? Thanks!

        • ariana March 31, 2014 at 10:26 am #

          Hi Jane, I have baked these in the oven before with good results. To mimic the broiler, I just turned the oven on to its highest heat and waited for them to brown a little on the outside. Sorry I don’t have a specific time– it does depend on the size and how hot the oven gets!

  5. Malli July 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    So healthy and flavorful! Love it

  6. Sarah Reed November 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    I can’t wait to make this tonight!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Silla January 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    These were so delicious, as was the Dutch baby. Thank you very much for sharing your recipes and your story. Looking forward to trying another recipe from your week of paleo meals.

  8. Pam August 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    These sounds delicious! I’m always looking for great easy foods that freeze well. I will definitely be making these.


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