Diana's Kebabs

Being Israeli and Indian, my diet throughout my life was always packed with an abundance of vegetables. Every single meal, even if it was a carnivore's heaven, it was equally a vegetarian's paradise.  Salads and mezzes in every meal, even on the run.  So it's no big surprise when S left for college my diet became predominantly (90%) vegetarian, that is until S comes back home, on winter and summer breaks, and I become yet again, a meat eating, carnivore.
I found an effort-free way to sate S's colossal appetite for protein with a make ahead best BBQ sauce, slathered on lightly salted and peppered grilled meats. He is on an exercise and corresponding diet regimen that will shift through different stages. Beginning of this week we were craving the scents and flavors of Israel. Something nostalgic. Something on long, hefty metal skewers that conduct heat, long after they are taken out of the broiler or off the grill.
Images of effortless plenty you only see in food and travel magazines. Images of Diana Restaurant, Nazareth, Israel. I was so happy at the time when Sarah, of Food Bridge, guest posted here with images of Diana's cook chopping the meat by hand. Look at the gorgeous collage of photos in Nazareth, Holy Sites and Tasty Bites. You would also love reading the post and seeing a snapshot of the grilled kebab, as in this case, skewered on a makeshift cinnamon stick serving as a double or triple duty vessel.

Last summer, Jonathan, myself and two of my sisters lunched at Diana's. It was a detour to get there. The two twenty-something fellows, out for a smoke, on the hilly narrow cobbled road, were so used to tourists with a sense of being lost, that when we stopped, about to ask them for directions, they didn't even let us utter a syllable. They answered the stunted, unspoken inquiry for directions with "Straight. Straight", "yashar. yashar" in Hebrew, accompanied by directional hand gestures as if they were on a tarmac of a landing strip at the airport. Only difference, one fellow was sitting on the front stoop, the other leaning against the wall somewhat hunched, their gestures pointing up the hill were without much conviction, which left us further confused. Now that I think of it again, their gestures were almost in slow motion, as if we were a bunch of idiots. We probably did look quite dazed and gullible. When it dawned on us that this episode replays itself over and over again, with the same two guys or their neighbors and a lost car loaded with odd bundle of tourists, this time us, it was super hysterical.

At the time Diana shared their lamb kebabs recipe with me. It was mind boggling how delicious this straight forward recipe was. Key was the best locally sourced ingredients. The lamb was from a herd nearby. It super simple, minimally handled, flavorful. A perfect treat for that special dad, on this upcoming Father's Day weekend and the grilling season.

You can easily double the recipe. I usually use 1/2 lamb, 1/2 beef but I only defrosted the beef this time around. I omitted the pine nuts and nutmeg from the recipe due to allergies and still the kebabs came out super authentic, not only in flavor and aroma but also in juiciness and springy texture.

Diana's Kebabs
4 skewers

1 lb ground beef, lamb or a mix
1 large onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts (I didn't use due to allergies)

Baharat Spice Mix
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/16-1/8 teaspoon allspice (I used 1/8)
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I didn't use due to allergies)

1 medium/large onion
1 large tomato

Finely chop the onion in a food processor. Add the meat, onion, parsley, salt and the Baharat spice mixture into a large bowl and mix well. You can mix/knead the mixture with your hands for a few minutes. Thread the meat and vegetables as seen in the photos and grill or broil for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve hot in a pita pocket with a tahini sauce. I served the kebabs this week over rice.