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Kabab Tabei: Bringing the Flavours of Persian Kababs to your Kitchen

Kabab Tabei is a comforting and simple Persian dish that brings the rich flavours of traditional kababs to the comfort of your kitchen without the need for a grill or a bbq. This stovetop version of kababs, whose name translates to “pan kabab” in farsi, offers a convenient yet delicious way to enjoy one of the most loved Persian dishes. Typically made with a combination of ground beef and lamb, Kabab Tabei is seasoned with aromatic spices like turmeric and saffron, lending it a distinctive, vibrant flavour and colour.  The kababs are served with roasted or pan-fried tomatoes and chilli peppers, adding a burst of freshness and a touch of heat that beautifully contrasts with the savoury meat.

Kabab Tabei is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a leisurely weekend meal and can be served with a side of fluffy Persian rice, fresh flatbreads, or Salad Shirazi.

Basic Ingredients for Kabab Tabei


Ground Beef and Ground Lamb: These meats are chosen for their rich flavours and fat content, which keeps the kababs moist and tender.

White Onion: Onion adds sweetness and depth of flavour to the meat. Grating and draining the onion ensures that it integrates well without adding excess moisture, which could make the kababs fall apart.

Turmeric: This spice gives a beautiful golden colour and a warm, earthy flavour. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Tomato Paste: Optional for adding a tangy richness, which complements the savoury notes of the meats.

Saffron: A luxurious spice known for its unique flavour and colour. Dissolving it in hot water first helps distribute its flavour more evenly.

Salt and Black Pepper: Essential seasonings that enhance the natural flavours of the other ingredients.

Cherry Tomatoes and Chilli Peppers: Serve as garnishes that add freshness, colour, and a slight kick to the dish, if desired.

Sumac: Often used in Middle Eastern cuisine, sumac provides a tart, lemony flavour that contrasts well with the richness of the meat.

Alternative Ingredients

Meat: You can use ground chicken or turkey instead of beef or lamb for a leaner option.

Turmeric: For a different spice profile, consider using cumin or coriander.

Tomato Paste: Red bell pepper paste or a dash of Worcestershire sauce can be alternatives.

Preparation Tips for Kabab Tabei

  • Ensure all ingredients, especially spices and seasonings, are evenly distributed throughout the meat mixture to ensure every bite is flavourful.
  • After mixing, allow the meat mixture to rest. This resting period helps the flavours meld together and makes the mixture easier to handle when cooking.

Serving Tips for Kabab Tabei

  • Serve the kababs hot, with roasted or pan fried cherry tomatoes, chilli peppers, and a sprinkle of sumac.
  • Accompany with sides such as fluffy Persian rice, salad Shirazi or flatbreads to complement the flavours.

Kabab Tabei

Servings: 6 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • 500 g ground beef
  • 500 g ground lamb
  • 1 white onion, finely grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste, optional
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • a pinch saffron
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes
  • 4 green chilli peppers
  • sumac


  • Finely grate the white onion. Place the grated onion in a sieve or cheesecloth and press or squeeze to drain out the excess water. This step is crucial as it helps prevent the kabab mixture from becoming too wet and falling apart during cooking.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef and ground lamb. Add the drained-grated onion, turmeric, salt, black pepper and sumac to the meat. Mix in the saffron to evenly distribute the flavor and color.
  • Using your hands, thoroughly mix all the ingredients until they are well combined and the mixture is homogeneous. This helps the kababs to hold together better when cooked. Allow the kabab mixture to rest for 30 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine tomato paste and butter. Grease large non-stick skillet with the butter mixture. Transfer the meat mixture to the skillet and gently spread and flatten the mixture in the skillet, pressing it down to form an even layer about ¼ inch thick across the skillet's surface.
  • Dividing the meat into 1 to 1 ½ inch thick strips within the pan using a spatula. This will make the kababs easier to turn and ensure they cook evenly.
  • Cook for about 7-8 minutes on one side. Then, carefully turn the strips over to cook on the other side for another 7-8 minutes or until both sides are nicely browned and the meat is cooked through.
  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a small frying pan and pan-fry the cherry tomatoes and chilli peppers. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 180°C. Arrange the cherry tomatoes and chilli peppers on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes until softened and slightly charred.
  • Add the pan-fried cherry tomatoes and sweet chilli peppers over the kabab. Top with a sprinkle of sumac for an extra burst of flavour. Serve with fluffy Persian rice on the side.

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