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Kebab (also occasionally transliterated as kebap, kabab, kebob, kabob, kibob, kebhav, kephav) refers to a variety of meat dishes in Arabic,Turkish, Persian, Cypriot, Iraqi, Pakistani, Central Asian, South Asian and some of the African cuisines, consisting of grilled or broiled meats wrapped in bread accompanied by lettuce and tomatoes with garlic sauce.

Left: Kebab in an Iranian Restaurant.

The most common kebabs include lamb and beef, although others use goat, squid, chicken, fish, or shellfish. Observant Muslims and Jews do not use pork for kebabs because of religious and cultural prohibitions, but pork kebabs can be found in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, United Kingdom and India, especially in the state of Goa. Like other ethnic foods brought by immigrants and travellers, the kebab has become part of everyday cuisine in multicultural countries around the globe.

Below are descriptions of some of the better known varieties of kebab:

Shish kebab (in which "shish" is from Turkish şiş, meaning "skewer") is a dish consisting of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled. Any kind of meat may be used; cubes of fruit or vegetables are often threaded on the skewer as well.

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In most dialects of North American English, the word kebab usually refers to shish kebab.

Shish kebab is similar to Shashlik, a form of skewered dish popular throughout Israel, the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria and Mongolia.

Left: Shish kebab or Shashlik.

Döner kebab, literally "rotating kebab" in Turkish, is sliced lamb, beef or chicken, slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit. The Middle Eastern shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor and Greek gyros are all derived from the Turkish döner kebab.

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Döner kebab is most popularly served in pita bread, as it is best known, with salad, but is also served in a dish with a salad and bread or French fries on the side, or used for Turkish pizzas called pide or "kebabpizza". Take-out döner kebab or shawarma restaurants are common in many parts of Europe.

Left: The döner meat is being sliced from a rotating spit. Note the cast iron plate behind the spit, which is used to cook the meat.

Kathi kebab is one of the most famous tandoori dishes, besides tandoori chicken, which has made tandoori cuisine famous worldwide. Made with beef, chicken or lamb meat, it is mostly prepared with a mix of spices, and cooked in a tandoor with skewers. The radiant heat from the tandoor slowly cooks the meat and due to the lack of direct heat from the fire, the juices remain inside while adding flavour, keeping the meat's moisture intact. It is usually served with rice, or a variety of Indian breads, along with onions and mint sauce.

Chelow kabab is a national dish of Iran. The meal is simple, consisting of steamed, saffroned basmati or Persian rice (chelow) and kabab, of which there are several distinct Persian varieties. This dish is served everywhere throughout Iran today, but traditionally was most closely associated with the northern part of the country.

See also Ćevapčići (Ćevapi).


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