From selecting a skewer to arranging meat on the grill, the Martirosyans—the family behind Mini Kabob, a beloved family-owned restaurant in Los Angeles— share their tips for a kebab feast with all the fixings.
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Kebab platter
Credit: Photo by Julia Stotz / Food Styling by Caroline K. Hwang / Prop Styling by Samantha Margherita

Build a Kebab Platter

We recommend serving the kebabs as the Martirosyans do, wrapped in a blanket of lavash or piled atop Aleppo pepper–dusted crispy Mini Kabob Potatoes, alongside Toum, Charred Jalapeños and Tomatoes, and Shaved Onions with Sumac and Parsley. The sides not only fill the table with colorful vegetables and a variety of textures, but they also balance and enhance the rich and fatty meat kebabs. Loaded with several make-ahead options, the entire feast is easily achievable for your next backyard party.

To Make Beef Shish Kebabs

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

1. Choose large, flat metal skewers, about 1 inch wide and 23 1/2 inches long, for kebabs. Find flat metal kebab skewers on amazon.com.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

2. Thread marinated beef flap meat (a flavorful and inexpensive cut with large striations) onto skewers, starting 3 1/2 inches down from pointed skewer tip.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

3. Leave about 1/4 inch of space between pieces of meat, and scrape off any remaining marinade (including onion and parsley pieces) to prevent burning.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

4. Cover skewered meat with plastic wrap, and pound with the smooth side of a meat mallet to tenderize and flatten slightly to about 1/3-inch thickness.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

5. Grill assembled kebabs over a grill (a mangal, or kebab grill, is shown here), resting ends of skewers on the skewer rack to suspend them.

To Make Chicken Lule Kebabs

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

1. Choose large, flat metal skewers, about 1 inch wide and 23 1/2 inches long, for kebabs. Find flat metal kebab skewers on amazon.com.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

2. Fill a medium bowl with water and keep it near while shaping lule kebabs. Dip your hand in the water before handling the chicken mixture to prevent it from sticking to your hand. Keep the skewer dry so that the chicken mixture adheres to the skewer.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

3. Using a wet hand, scoop about 7 ounces of chicken mixture from bowl and gently compact it into a meatball. Press meat onto a dry (1-inch wide x 23 ½-inch long) metal skewer, about 6-inches down from the pointed skewer tip.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

4. Squeeze the meat on skewer to shape into an even tube around the skewer, about 9-inches long and 2 1/2 inches down from pointed skewer tip. Using a wet hand to prevent sticking, run your hand along the shaped meat to smooth all sides.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

5. Using your thumb and pointer finger on either side of the skewer, pinch to remove and straighten the top and bottom ends of the meat tube, removing about 1/2 ounce (3/4 inch) from each end. Put excess meat in bowl with remaining chicken mixture. Rewet hand and press to flatten meat into a 7-inch-long rectangular tube (about 1 1/2 inches wide) that begins about 3 inches down from pointed skewer tip.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

6. Using your thumb and pointer finger on either side of skewer, starting from pointed skewer tip end, make 7 divots on 1 side of meat tube with your thumb, about 1/2 inch deep, running down length of meat. Divots should go about three-fourths of the way through meat to skewer.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

7. Chill prepared kebab, resting ends of skewer on rim of a baking sheet to prevent smashing the meat, while shaping remaining kebabs. Once all kebabs are shaped, proceed with grilling. 

To Make Charred Jalapeños and Tomatoes

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

1. Choose large, flat metal skewers, about 1 inch wide and 23 1/2 inches long, for kebabs. Find flat metal kebab skewers on amazon.com.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

2. Thread tomatoes and jalapeños crosswise on skewers, starting about 3 1/2 inches down from pointed skewer tip.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

3. Grill assembled vegetable skewers over a kebab or kettle grill or over a gas burner on high heat. Turn skewers occasionally to develop char on all sides.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

4. Prepare eggplant and bell peppers for smoky, creamy Ikra (Eggplant Caviar) by cooking them directly over an open flame on the grill or a gas burner.

Mini Kabob Tutorial
Credit: Julia Stotz

5. Transfer charred vegetables to a covered bowl or bag, and let stand 15 minutes. Steam helps the skin easily slip off the vegetables before making the dip.

Elevate Your Skewers with a Mangal Grill

The mangal, a long and narrow grill, is embraced by kebab-loving cultures all over the world. It's also the style of grill used at Mini Kabob for their delectable kebabs, including their flavorful Beef Shish Kebab and cult-favorite Lamb lule kebab (for which they shared a version that uses chicken instead of lamb). Designed with skewers in mind, its shallow and open charcoal bed ensures the coals are exposed to a constant supply of oxygen, resulting in moderately high cooking temperatures perfect for quickly charring meats and vegetables. Skewers are rested across the grill with the ends overhanging the edge of the grill to be used as handles for rotating the kebabs rotisserie-style. "Mangal" is derived from the Arabic word for "carried," which holds true to the portability of this lightweight and inexpensive grill. 

The F&W Kitchen tested the Beef Shish Kebab, Chicken Lule Kebab, and Charred Jalapeños and Tomatoes recipes on a Weber Kettle Grill as well as on a Family-Size Stainless Steel Mangal Grill, a 2-foot-long mangal with simple adjustable vents on both ends to control airflow. The long grilling platform provides plenty of area for cooking multiple kebabs at once, while the folding legs make for effortless storage. 

To grill on a mangal, divide the hot coals in half. Push coals to each end of the mangal, spreading them in an even layer and leaving about 10 inches in the center of the charcoal bed empty. Cook kebabs over the hot coals, rotating and repositioning the skewers as needed to prevent large flare-ups. Compared to a kettle grill, the coal bed in a mangal is much closer to the skewers, so shorten cook times by about 2 minutes. If kebabs are browning too quickly, finish cooking over the center section.