Lyulya Kebab (Minced Lamb Kebab)

Monday, April 1, 2019

This is an Azerbaijani variation of minced lamb meat kebab - other similar versions include lula kebab in Armenia, and kofte kebab in Turkey, among other variations.

This dish is typically prepared by grinding or chopping the meat together with the onion. It is then grilled on skewers. I do not have a functioning meat grinder nor a grill, so this recipe is modified to accommodate my kitchen.


I made the kebabs by frying them in a pan. I divided the meat in approximately 12 meatballs, which i then rolled out between my palms into sausage shapes. I then fried them in two batches.


This version of the kebab is typically served wrapped in flat-bread (called lavash, traditionally made in a tandoor type oven). If this flat-bread is not readily available you can substitute with another thin flat bread such as flour tortillas or even naan. A pita might not be a good substitute as it is too thick, but if you'd like to make a gyro out of it, go for it.


I could not find any lavash (one of my next projects is to learn how to make it), so I used regular flour tortillas. They go very well with this dish. Another essential ingredient are onion slices. I marinate them briefly by mixing them in coarse salt and let stand for about half an hour and then add a touch of rice vinegar. The salt softens them and the vinegar gets the onion stink out to make them palatable as a topping.

Another thing you will need is sumac. As I mentioned in my last post, sumac is a spice common across the Middle East and Central Asia. For this Azerbaijani inspired dish, it is almost essential. It adds a tangy flavor and a beautiful reddish color. For these kebabs, it is used both as an ingredient and a finishing spice.


Serve the kebabs with garlic-yogurt sauce and red chimichurri sauce for dipping.

Lyulya Kebab
(Serves about 4-6)

You will need:

To serve with kebabs:
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp rice vinegar
Thin flat bread (lavash, flour tortillas, or naan)
Sprigs of cilantro and mint, for garnish
Pomegranate seeds
Sumac, for garnish

For kebabs:
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 lb ground lamb meat (85% lean, you want the fat)
1/2 minced white onion
A dash of sumac
1/2 tps cumin
1/2 tsp hot Hungarian Paprika
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt (I would have said to taste, but don't taste raw meat)

1. First, marinate the onion slices that will be served with kebabs. Take 1/2 of the onion and slice thinly into crescent moons. Put the white onion slices in a bowl, and mix them with 1/2 tsp coarse salt. Let stand to allow the onions to become moist, about half hour, then mix with the teaspoon of vinegar. Set aside while you make the kebabs.
2. Mix lamb, minced onion, 1 tbsp of olive oil, sumac, cumin, paprika, coriander, cinnamon and salt and pepper until combined. Divide into 12 even pieces and roll each one into a meatball. Using the palms of your hands, roll out each meatball into a sausage shape (about Italian sausage size).
3. Heat remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the kebabs, turning frequently to allow even browning, until the kebabs are done and no longer pink, about 15 minutes.
4. To serve kebabs (you can bring everything out and allow your guests to do it themselves), wrap each one in a flat-bread, top with marinated onions, springs of cilantro and mint, pomegranate seeds, sprinkled generously with sumac. Serve with garlic yogurt dip (recipe follows).

Garlic Yogurt Dip

You will need:
8 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
1 finely chopped scallion
Juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine yogurt, garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


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