July 1999, almost the end of my three year basic surgical rotation at ‘North Staffs’, now known as University Hospital North Staffordshire; my friends, colleagues and I were very excited with all sorts of career plans in different fields of surgery in everyone’s mind! Concurrently there was a touch of sadness, in everyone’s heart I am sure, though not quite like the last day at one’s secondary school!
Richard, Nadeem and I, who were on the same rotation as me and whom I made friends with, decided to host a party for everybody we knew from our days in Stoke-on-Trent! Planning began and while we sat for hours in the pleasing sunny evenings, talking about almost everything, there was a distinct focus on this party!
Before long we reached a decision, which was to organise a substantial barbecue! Substantial, because we invited nearly 200 people, and the organisers – three of us and with no cost to anyone! Nevertheless, people were informed that we will only be providing soft drinks with the food; they got the hint! We booked the doctors’ mess at the Grindley Hill Place, by the City General Hospital in Hartshill for the day and began our preparations.
I was allocated the duty of acquiring, marinating and preparing the meats; it was like a dream come true for me – the biggest party of my life so far, which I would be catering for!
Nadeem arranged for a half drum/barrel BBQ to be built by one of his smithy friends in Stoke. Moreover, we used all of our own domestic BBQs and borrowed few from friends; half a dozen additional ones. I ordered the meat, two days before the occasion and lots of it, 150 pounds (nearly 70 kg) to be precise! This included various forms of chicken, including, quartered on the bone, boneless fillets, wings, mince as well as lamb – boneless leg meat and chops.
Needless to say, all the stuff was delivered the day before, all cut and prepared. I spent the next four hours marinating it in ten separate buckets that I had borrowed from my friend Shafa (Chef/Patron of Shaffers Hanley, Alsager and Crewe) with different spice mixes that I prepared specially.
The next morning Richard arrived bright and early, and after a quick cuppa tea, began impaling the chicken and lamb kababs onto the already soaked bamboo skewers. Shortly thereafter Nadeem joined us too and by noon all salads were prepared, BBQs lit up and tables were laid down!
Not long afterwards our guests began arriving with bottles, cakes, chocolates and desserts. The attendance was amazing – nearing 100% – and fun began promptly, even on call people did not miss the occasion!
With that introduction to the scene, I shall now share some of those knockout kabab recipes from the day, almost 14 years ago.
• 1/2 Kg (just over a pound) boneless leg of lamb, cut into an inch or so cubes
• 2 small onions – 1 grated, the other cut into wedges
• 1 green and a red pepper cored, seeded, and cut into large pieces
• 10 large firm cherry tomatoes
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• Few mint leaves, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 3 tablespoons cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 lemon for juice and zest
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a large mixing bowl add the grated onion, crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, all the spices and herbs, salt and pepper as well as the lamb. Using your hands, mix everything well and refrigerate; preferably overnight.
Impale the cubes alternatively with a piece each of onion, pepper, tomato on either metal or pre-soaked bamboo skewers.
Grill on full heat for 3-5 minute on each side or on a summer afternoon/evening cook on a BBQ.
Enjoy with naan or pitta bread and some fresh salad.