FOOD | RECIPES FOR A FEAST FROM THE MIDDLE EAST


The Cricket World Cup is in full swing now, with fourteen nations competing to win. This and the word ‘Ashes’, I’m afraid is all I know about cricket.

However, I was asked by Betfair to take part in the Cricket World Cup Recipe challenge and thought I might as well. We were tasked with sharing recipes inspired by the countries taking part in the competition, I decided to go with the United Arab Emirates. It was an easy choice as my father is Iranian (Persian) and I grew up eating a lot of middle eastern dishes. While I have mastered (bit of an exaggeration) my favorite stews, one thing that has always evaded me was a good kebab recipe – mine often come out dry and bland.

I spent a while researching various recipes and talking to my dad about how his mum makes them and finally came up with the one I will share with you today. Joe was so impressed he said it was on par with the local restaurant! As well as, kebabs I will also share a Shirazi salad recipe and a yogurt dish that usually accompanies it.


Kebab recipe
300g Extra Lean Steak Mince
500g Lamb Mince (about 20% Fat)
2 Medium Onions
2 Cloves Garlic
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Pepper 
1 tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Ground Sumac

Prepare to get messy….



First, start by grating the onions and mincing the cloves and place in a large bowl. Then add the mince and use your hands to combine, literally squeezing the mince between your palm and fingers until you can’t really see the difference between the lamb and the beef.
 Top tip – keep your hands wet while you handle the mince to stop the fat/ meat sticking to your hands.

Next add the Salt, Pepper, Tumeric and Sumac and combine the mixture further. Once all the ingredients are really well-combined cover and put in the fridge to marinate. I recommend at least 8 hours. When I made them they had been in the fridge for 20 hours and then took it out 30 minutes prior to shaping them.

These kebabs are usually cooked over coals, or on a BBQ, but as I was cooking in February I decided to griddle them – but you can grill them. If you are grilling them in the oven, preheat the grill on a medium high heat and cooke for about 10 minutes each side – depending on the size of the kebabs. If like me you want to griddle them, then preheat the griddle pan on a medium high heat and again cook for about 10minutes on each side or until cooked through.

To shape the kebabs take a handful of the mixture and roll into a ball. Then roll it into a sausage shape and place it lengthways in the palm of your hand. Use your first two fingers and then flatten the sausage into a kebab shape.

To serve line a platter with middle eastern ‘Lavash’ bread to place the kebabs on, this soaks up all the juices from the kebabs and is delicious. I also griddled a tomato as a garnish (although these are lovely too).

Shirazi Salad

1 Tomato

1 Onion

1/2 Cucumber

1 tbsp Dried Mint (or a handful of fresh)

1 Lemon (or Lime)

100g Cubed Feta (optional)



This salad is really fresh and simple, but can be very time consuming if you commit to perfectly uniform tiny cubes of cucumber, tomato, and onion. I, unfortunately, do not have the patience our the skill to do this, although I do try.
Slice and dice the cucumber, I usually cut a slice and then slice one way on that slice and do it again at a 90 degree angle as small as I can. Repeat on the onion and tomato. I’d recommend cutting the tomato in half and defleshing it first. With the tomato and onion if you have an electronic mixer you can always do them in there.

Combine these in a bowl with the juice of one lemon and add the mint. If you want to add feta too, it’s a lovely touch. Also to bulk it out for lunches I add bulgar wheat.

Cucumber and Garlic Yoghurt

1/2 Cucumber

1 Clove Garlic

200g Natural Greek Yogurt

This is so simple – grate the cucumber, add the minced garlic and yoghurt. Stir to combine and season to taste.

I served this all with boiled rice, add a pinch of Tumeric to the water to colour it yellow if you like. I also made Tahdig, which is the crispy bit of rice at the bottom of the pan, but Joe likes it with fried bread. Just remove the rice from the pan when it’s just about cooked, add come oil and then some Lavash bread or pitta bread (butterflied open) then pop the rice back on top to cook a bit longer until crispy.

Have you been watching the Cricket world cup? Which nations cuisine inspires you most?


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Love Lilla xx
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