one heavenly meal: chelo-kabob {persian style steamed basmati rice with grilled beef kabobs & tomatoes}

kabobs on the grill (manghal)

chelo kabob tablechelo-kabob (iran’s semi-official national dish)  is single handedly responsible for bringing me back from being a vegetarian to (mildly) eating meat again.  years ago, shortly before leaving home for college, a family friend shared a book with me that changed the way i ate and looked at food forever. i became acutely aware of how our food consumption directly affects our health and well being, and much to my parents amusement,   became a vegetarian. i began questioning the quality and source of the foods we were eating, and consumed endless amounts of the delicious lentil patties my mom invented in order to add some form of protein to my diet.tomatoes and peppers on the grill

living in southern france at the time, we were exposed to an abundance of seasonally fresh produce in the local markets. oh how we loved those morning farmers markets! my sister and i spent so many hours wandering through the stalls (especially in the summer months) and taking it all in. with the smell of good cheese, melons, lavender, and juicy peaches in our nostrils, we ate warm chocolate croissants still oozing with soft chocolate (as well as the crusty  tops of the baguettes we were taking home to mom), and eventually carried our heavy basket loads back home. i remained a vegetarian for about two years until i broke down:

the smell of the grill at my uncle’s (after my grandma, the best kabob-maker i know) house in los angeles finally did me in! watching the family dig in while i “enjoyed” my rice, grilled tomatoes, and salad, and realizing i could never really give chela-kabob up for good because it was too much a part of me.  the smell of grilling kabob takes me right back to my childhood years and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  It makes me nostalgic for the lovely family gatherings at my grandmas: a beautifully set large round table covered with neatly lined up slices of butter, bowls of  sumac, fresh herbs, and raw egg yolks in their half shells, all waiting for the piping hot fragrant steamed rice (see recipe-omit all spices but saffron) and glistening kabobs my grandma had so lovingly prepared.taking kabobs off the skewer with lavash bread

it was one of my favorite thing to do; watching her skewer the tender beef with her skilled hands, lining them up in perfect rows on trays going out to the grill, or “manghal” (more of a charcoal tray than a grill-the meat should not sit on the grill, but directly above the fire) as we call it. i could’nt be happier when my sister sent a text this past sunday saying “last minute chelo-kabob at our house-moms coming to help-be there at 1:30”. i got dressed quickly, grabbed my camera, and practically ran out the door-i wanted to be there for the preparation, of course!

a nice plate of chelo-kabob!

a disclaimer of sorts: my mom and sister weren’t too happy i’d picked this particular day to take pictures for a post about chelo-kabob…they had decided to do it all very “last minute” and weren’t happy with the look of things-the filet kabob was not the typical “barg” (translates to leaf) flattened style we make but more of a “chengeh” or chunky style, and the koobideh (ground beef kabobs) were not as perfectly lined up (as in matching and all pretty looking) as my mom would have liked due to lack of time-but let me tell youdeliciously grilled kabob koobideh-it really didn’t matter…it was all way beyond delicious! we had quite a feast. the perfectly spicy  drinks my sister served while we waited? i’ll have to ask her for the recipe. {click on (CONTINUE READING) for recipes & inspiration…}

Leili's bloody mary

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