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Origin and History behind "Shish Kebabs."

Updated on July 20, 2014

Where did this tradition start?

Tradition has it that the dish was invented by a medieval Turkic or by Persian Soldiers who used their swords to grill their meat over an open field of fires.

Empires and Commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan or pita.

The word was first mentioned in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusaf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebabs is mentioned as a food. The first meat used was lamb and beef.

A Doner Kebab means "rotating kebab," in Turkish, it is a slice of lamb, beef, or chicken slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit.

In Middle Eastern Shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros are all derived from Turkish doner kebab, which was invented in Bursa in the 19th Century by a cook named Haci Iskender.

Meats were usually marinated to tenderize and to get rid of the gamey flavor.

Where did the name come from?

The term or name "Shish Kebabs" which many people spell wrong and usually spell it as "Shish Kabobs or Shish Kababs," comes from Turkish words literally meaning the word "skewer" and "roast meat," and is a Turkish signature meal.

It was written that Christopher Columbus was fond of Portuguese espetadas, which is a beef shish kebab marinated in wine and roasted on an open fire.


Traditional Shish Kebabs

This photo was of my personal beef shish kebabs made by me.
This photo was of my personal beef shish kebabs made by me. | Source
Chicken and my sons hot dog shish kebabs, even though hot dogs are not traditional it was a good way to get my son involved in cooking and eating his own meal.
Chicken and my sons hot dog shish kebabs, even though hot dogs are not traditional it was a good way to get my son involved in cooking and eating his own meal. | Source
Cut up your choice of veggies or fruit. Mine was pineapple, mushrooms, onion, and colorful bell peppers.
Cut up your choice of veggies or fruit. Mine was pineapple, mushrooms, onion, and colorful bell peppers. | Source
My photo was taken of my beef and chicken shish kebabs along with a side of grilled green beans and zucchini squash.
My photo was taken of my beef and chicken shish kebabs along with a side of grilled green beans and zucchini squash. | Source

Different Cultures Kebabs

In the Us we generally have the traditional meats, veggies, and fruit which usually may consist of beef or chicken, pineapple, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and tomato.

In the Oriental cultural in some form or another they have satey, which is roasted skewered meats, served with a dipping sauce usually made with peanuts.

Japan has yakitori, which is grilled skewered fowl.

In Mexico you may see meat and pineapple or mango with chili peppers.

In Bulgaria, the word kebap refers to meat stews with very few or no vegetables.

I can go on about the many different varieties of kebabs each culture may have but that would be a lot, and I am just talking about basic and a few traditional kebabs.

My Shish Kebabs

In my photos I shared, I wanted to share how I made my Shish Kebabs.

I started out cutting up my desired choice of meat which was beef and chicken into bite size pieces.

I bought Lawreys marinated bottle of steak sauce and the terriaki sauce for my chicken.

I marinated each meat in the sauce for several hours. You can place in ziploc baggies or in a bowl that is covered and place in the fridge.

Then I cut up my mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and pineapple.

Took my meat out after marinating it for a couple hours and made beef, mushroom, onion, bell pepper kebabs. With my marinated teriyaki chicken I skewered the meat, pineapple, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onion.

If you have a child that is a picky eater like mine let them choose their own meat to skewer like my son chose hot dogs, then they can build what fruit or veggies they want.

If you want to skewer meat and veggies on separate skewers then this is your choice, the reason why this way is better is that the meat cooks longer than the vegetables and fruit, so sometimes cooking on separate skewers makes sense.

Stick on a grill outdoors or in the oven.

Cook to your desire. Some may like their beef more rare than others, but please cook your poultry thoroughly.

shish kebabs grilled

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 2 hours 20 min
Yields: Varies on amount cut and skewered up.

Easy Shish Kebabs

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    • shabbychicmomma profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Wortman 3 years ago from Keizer,Oregon

      Thank you Fullerman5000, I too was amazed at the history behind them and had to share, I love teriyaki marinate with chicken and pineapple very delicious! You may love fruit on kebab this way. Let me know how you like it if you try it. Thanks again for your compliment.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 3 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      You learn something new everyday. I love me some Shish Kebabs. Thanks for sharing this information. I was never aware that it was Turkish style meal. That is very interesting. I am always down for some Kebabs on the grill. Although, I don't think I have ever made any with fruit on them. I might have to give that a shot next time.

    • shabbychicmomma profile image
      Author

      Cheryl Wortman 3 years ago from Keizer,Oregon

      Thank you DzyMsLizzy, yes you are so right we all have our own taste and that's what is so great about building your own shish kebabs. I have lately been doing more fruits and veggies with juucibg, basically eating raw and juicing this summer. I have occasionally eaten meat this summer. Thanks for your complement. :)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Well done, and well explained with great photos.

      As a vegetarian, I do veggie-only kebabs..so definitely not traditional, but as you point out, you add what you like. ;-)

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