Chicken On A Stick

Whenever I see the word kebab, I think of the left bank of the Seine, and all those Middle Eastern restaurants with huge, alluring kebabs lined up in the window. Prawns, beef, chicken, crays, and so on. Trouble is, it’s generally a con. Those inside are about a third the size, and the bill singes the pockets.

Horror memories of kebabs have not deferred my enthusiasm for this ancient Middle Eastern method of roasting or barbecuing bite-sized chunks of meat. The trick with kebabs is not to tart them up by decorating them with vegetables. These look nice in shop windows, but to my taste never form a satisfactory conclusion. Either the meat is overcooked or the vegetables undercooked, or both. Stick with the sticks of meat. If you must have vegetables this way, do them separately, and keep kin with kin. That way, you can control the finished product. Your meat is rare, or well-cooked. Your vegetables are tender or crisp.

Remember, when you’re making kebabs, that they derive from the Turkish word for roast meat. The addition of skewers creates a ’shish’ kebab, again, the anglicisation of the Turkish.

Kebabs can be whatever you like. I prefer chicken from the underfillet or lamb fillets, each of them tender when cooked quickly, and still tender when overcooked, each a possibility with mass cooking on a grill.

ground cummin

chilli powder

black pepper

a little salt

400 g chicken underfillets, sliced into bite-sized pieces


Mix together the cummin, chilli powder, pepper and salt, and roll the chopped chicken in this blend of spices.


Thread the spiced chicken on to skewers. If you wet wooden skewers before sliding, there is less chance of burning.


Cook the kebabs on a barbecue or in a pan, or under the grill. They will take about 5 minutes, depending on the heat of the barbecue. Turn half-way through. They should be just cooked through, and still moist to the squeeze.


Serve with boiled rice, with satay sauce (see Quick Satay Sauce) on the side for dipping.

WINE: The Middle East has never been big on serving wine with its cuisine, for obvious reasons. There are some lovely medium- weight Coonawarra shiraz-based wines that would hit the right spot here.