persian skillet kabob (kabob tabei)

persian skillet kabob tabei

This Persian skillet kabob (kabob tabei) is my dad’s recipe for making kabob when outdoor grilling is not an option.

I’m a blessed woman in many way, mostly because I have the most amazing, supportive parents anyone could hope for. My parents are Jesus loving, hard working, sacrificial people who have given their kids beautiful lives. For that I am grateful!

Both my parents are also amazing cooks. My mom can find anything in the kitchen and whip up the most delicious meal in no time. I’m planning to secretly submit her application to Chopped one day! My dad is a grill master. He cooks a mean joojeh kabob, grills up amazing ribs, and makes a kabob koobideh that no one can touch.

persian skillet kabob tabei

The one-two tandem of my parents’ culinary skills has left me spoiled and unable to enjoy Persian food at any restaurant ever again. Not a bad fate and I’m certainly not complaining!

My dad’s specialty is kabob koobideh. The Iranian national dish where ground beef or lamb are seasoned and expertly formed around wide metal skewers before being grilled to perfection over hot coals. My dad prides himself on consistently accomplishing the difficult feat of cooking juicy koobideh that doesn’t fall off of the skewer when grilled (the sign of improper mixing and handling of the meat). As my dad points out, many cooks and restaurants add blasphemous ingredients like eggs and baking soda to keep their kabobs juicy and perfectly sticky.

Some of my favorite memories involve my dad pulling a hot kabob off the fire, quickly wrapping a piece in lavash, and secretly handing you a sample bite. A mischievous smirk spreads across Dad’s face as he watches his kids savor the delicious lagniappe.

Rainy weekends or busy workdays usually meant we couldn’t enjoy the labor-intensive meal of kabob koobideh. Sometimes my dad would defrost ground beef from the freezer and cook this kabob tabei so we could enjoy his cooking in the absence of the grill.

This recipe allows you to enjoy the flavors of koobideh from the comfort of your kitchen. You won’t need the specialty skewers and years of experience my dad implements to grill his famous kabobs. Simply mix together grated onion, ground beef, and salt and cook the meat on a skillet.

The onion juice and beef fat will combine and caramelize in the skillet, creating a unique flavor far superior to the humble burger. Serve these kabobs with roasted tomatoes, rice, yogurt, and sumac for a delicious Persian meal without the grill!

Here’s a video for how to make this skillet kabob!

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persian skillet kabob tabei

persian skillet kabob (kabob tabei)

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  • Author: Sepideh Campos


  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 pound tomatoes, washed and sliced in half 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef, organic is best 
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sumac for serving, optional
  • Plain greek yogurt for serving, optional 
  • Cooked basmati rice for serving (brown or white)

Note: you can turn this into a low carb meal by omitting the rice and serving it with roasted bell peppers and zucchini


  1. Place the onion in the freezer for 10 minutes to prevent tears when grating. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack inside the baking sheet. 
  3. Place the tomatoes on the wire rack, cut side down, and rub olive oil over the skin side of the tomatoes. 
  4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the tomatoes. 
  5. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they are cooked and the skin is starting to blister. 
  6. Turn on the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking to achieve a nice char on the tomatoes. 
  7. Remove the onion from the freezer, cut the onion in half and remove the skin. 
  8. Cut the onion into big chunks and place the pieces in a food processor. 
  9. Grind the onion in the food processor on high speed until fully pulverized, 2-3 minutes. 
  10. Dump the onion and it’s liquid in a large mixing bowl and add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and lots of fresh ground pepper to the meat. 
  11. Use clean hands to thoroughly combine the meat and onion mixture together. This process will take at least 2-3 minutes when done properly. 
  12. The heat from your hands should melt some of the beef tallow and the texture of the beef will be sticky when fully combined with the grated onion. 
  13. Pat the meat and onion mixture into the bottom of a cold, 9 inch non-stick skillet. Dip your hands in water if the meat is sticking to them while you’re trying to form the meat to the skillet. 
  14. Place the skillet on the stove and turn the heat on to medium. 
  15. After 5-8 minutes, the meat should start to sizzle and you’ll notice fat and onion juice around the edges of the meat patty. 
  16. At this point, use a spatula to score the meat into 8 rectangular pieces. 
  17. Continue to let the meat cook on medium heat until the liquid around the edges starts to caramelize and the side of the meat touching the skillet is golden brown, 5-6 minutes. 
  18. Flip each kabob over with a spatula and brown the opposite side, 5-6 minutes. Once the meat is cooked through, place desired number of kabobs on a plate of rice along with a roasted tomato. 
  19. Sprinkle the dish liberally with sumac and serve with plain greek yogurt. 
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