Think Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act 2. The concert at the beginning. Ready? HEATWAAAAVE! I'm in London in July and there is a heatwave this week. My Arabian blood is ecstatic at this. It means evenings after work either spent in pubs by the river, pub gardens, sitting in the park reading or even just relaxing dinners on the terrace. It also means a good BBQ every so often.
Both sides of my family are fans of a good BBQ. In Abu Dhabi in the winter (I know) the whole family would get together and go to a public beach or park and different people would be in charge of different things. Someone would have to bring the portable grill, that same person would probably bring the meat unless someone else was adamant they wanted to do it. Then someone would bring two or three kinds of salad and packets of Arabic bread, someone else would bring hummous and mtabbel, someone else would bring 6 litre-bottles of water and two coolers full of "Tang" and finally, enough thermoses of tea for all of the adults to have at least two glasses.
On the Isle of Wight, everyone generally goes to Granny's for the BBQ. She will make scotch eggs, potato salad, coleslaw and marinate some sort of chicken (I usually request wings). Then my uncle puts an array of sausages and burgers slathered in BBQ sauce and the chicken on the BBQ and everyone enjoys. There is usually beer and wine, if someone is feeling adventurous, they might make a bowl of some sort of cocktail.
The meat is the main star of the BBQ. I'm sorry for all of the vegetarians out there, but it is and always has been in my family. Arabs particularly take pride in the quality, flavour and quantity of the meat they bring to a BBQ. It's not taken lightly. Living in the UK, it's very hard to find meat flavoured the Arab way so a couple of years ago, I decided to have a go at doing it myself.
We hosted a birthday BBQ at the weekend so I decided I would make kofta kebabs to put on the grill. I have to say, they were pretty darn good. This is a great crowd pleaser for your next BBQ. They are easy to make, they don't take long to cook and they go great with sweet chilli mayo.
500g beef mince
500g lamb mince
1 whole bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp fine salt
2 tsp cinnamon
Traditionally, people would usually use 1kg of lamb mince but I think mixing it with the beef makes it less harsh on the senses and much less chewy.
Make sure the meat isn't too cold before you start mixing. Empty all of the ingredients except the egg into a fairly sizeable mixing bowl and get your hands right in there, mixing everything together. This will take you at least 10 minutes. You have to make sure that everything is mixed well, the mince is broken down and all of the flavours are evenly distributed. Add the egg and mix it in (again, evenly) to act as a binding agent. Leave it covered with cling film for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Depending on whether you're using wooden or metal skewers may affect how many you can cook at once. Take a handful of the meat mixture and fashion it into a sausage shape. Fold the width of it around the skewer making sure there are no gaps and it is "sealed" properly. If it's not properly attached, your kebab may fall into the coals. If you are using really long skewers like I did, you can put more than one kebab on each skewer.
Grill them until a lovely, apetizing brown colour and cooked all the way through or to your liking (not long). Good sauces to go with it are tzatziki, chilli mayonnaise or sweet chilli sauce.