Saturday 17 September 2011

The ABC’s of BBQ

Pictures courtesy Mohamed Azmy 2011

For most people in Egypt, summer is a time of lazy days, intense nights and a severe case of procrastination.  If having a barbeque was one of the things on your summer to-do list and haven’t gotten around to yet, you’re in luck. Take advantage of the hot weather and dust off your grill, its barbeque time!

Here I have a few examples of my favorite grilling meats. Shish Tawook (Grilled chicken pieces), Shish Kebab (Meat on a skewer), Kofta (Oriental Meat balls), and BBQ Burgers.

Barbequing could result in amazing juicy meats or a burnt catastrophe. The main thing you should focus on is getting the coal bed to cook the food, not burn it to a crisp.

Make sure you have enough coal. Fill your barbeque with the coal and light it using a small amount of lighter fluid or a long match. Allow the coal to set fire then turn the coal around, to distribute the flame. After the flame has died down, start fanning to make sure the coal is glowing. We want the coal to radiate heat, rather than be in flames. The coal should turn an ashy-grey color and the coal bed should be all glowing. You may need to ‘stir’ the coal bed and fan for a few times to get a good uniform bed.

Now we have to grease our grill. Before putting the metal grill on top of the bed, we need to grease it so the meat doesn’t stick. Dip a paper towel in some vegetable oil, and rub it thoroughly on the grill. Make sure to do this BEFORE the grill is on the coal. You will prevent a few burnt fingers this way not to mention a good flame show.

Now, allow to grill to heat for 5 min, and then put your meats on the grill. Try to group similar meats next to each other, since they will have a similar cooking time.

You can undercook red meat, depending on your preferences. Some people like it medium rare while others can’t stand it other than well done. Just remember that you MUST cook poultry all the way through.

Some easy side dishes to have in your barbeque, and which don’t need warming up are Macaroni with Broccoli, Coriander-Fava Bean rice, and Mashed Potatoes. And for dessert you can always make Lemon Bars the day before, or Brownies which are always a crowd pleaser.

Pictures courtesy Mohamed Azmy 2011
 Shish Tawook (Grilled Skewer Chicken):

Chicken is known to get dry on the grill, especially if you are using boneless chicken breasts. One way to ensure they stay juicy is using yogurt in the marinade.

 I use half chicken breast and half boneless thighs, which are the original Tawook type of chicken, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.

The chicken should be marinated the night before as should most meats that are grilled.

Marinade (enough for 1 Kg of chicken cut into cubes):

- 1 head of garlic minced
- 1 bunch of parsley, chopped finely
- 400 gm of yogurt (four small cups)
- Salt (unless your Tandoori mix is heavily salted)
- ½ tsp chili powder
- Tandoori mix (read packet instructions, enough for the amount of chicken you are using)

Make sure the Tandoori mix is mild, if it is spicy then omit the extra chili.

If you cannot find Tandoori mix, you can mix your favorite dry curry mix, or just some turmeric and chili powder which is what I used in these photos.

Kofta and Kebab  courtesy Mohamed Azmy 2011

Shish Kebab (Meat on a Stick):

- 1 kg of shish kebab (meat cut into cubes, specify to the butcher that it is for grilling)
- Onions cut in quarters
- Green peppers cut in squares
- Garlic minced, about half a head per kilo
 - Black pepper
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, this will tenderize the meat and the sour flavors will cook off
- ¼ tsp Meat spices (you can find this in any Arabic food store)
OR ¼ tsp Nutmeg.

Mix the spices with a little oil and coat the meat. Then place them on the stick alternating with onions and peppers. You may also add cherry tomatoes on the sticks.


Kofta is the same recipe as my Egyptian Meatballs, but the meat shouldn’t be as lean as not to fall apart. If the meat is very lean, you may need to add a handful of breadcrumbs to keep it together.

Pictures courtesy Mohamed Azmy 2011

BBQ Burgers:

- 1kg of chopped meat
- 1 small onion minced very fine
- 5 cloves of garlic minced
- 5 Tbsp of barbeque sauce
- black pepper to taste

Mix all together and shape patties. 1 Kg of chop meat should give you approx 8 – 10 medium sized patties.


What do you put on your grill in the summer?



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