Kebabs originated in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and South Asian areas during medieval times. The food is thought to have originated when Persian soldiers skewered meat on their swords and roasted it over an open fire. The phrase “shish kebab” comes from the Persian words for “fry” and “skewer.” People in Greece also enjoyed the dish during the Byzantine era, and it was even referenced in Homer’s The Odyssey. The dish spread rapidly around the world since it only required small cuts of meat and very little fuel to cook quickly.
Today, there are endless varieties of kebabs to try. In some Asian countries, satay is popular, where skewered meat is roasted and served with a peanut sauce. In Japan, yakitori—skewered, roasted fowl—is a favorite. Kebabs are served with rice or naan in Iran, and the many varieties account for a large portion of their diet. Lamb is still a popular option with these skewers. Other meats include beef, chicken, pork, Cornish hens, salmon, and shrimp. Tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and pineapple are all common vegetables placed on the stick, as well. The meat is almost always marinated to preserve flavor and moisture, and it’s often served with seasoned rice.
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