x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Food Obsession: a meal fit for a king

The Iranian-born Kabab Koobideh is hard to go past in the search for Dubai's tastiest meat treat.

Kabab Koobideh. Courtesy Abshar Restaurant
Kabab Koobideh. Courtesy Abshar Restaurant

The kabab I hail as the "King of Kababs" in Dubai is the glistening skewer of the Iranian-born Kabab Koobideh.

It's not surprising that Iranian kababs rise above the rest. The country has given it due respect, with Nasr-uddin Shah in the mid 1800s going so far as to decree the establishment of a dedicated chelo (rice) kabab restaurant near the palace. Moreover, the words "kabab" and "koobideh" are both Farsi derivatives, the former referring to food grilled on skewers and the latter stemming from Koobidand, to pound or to mince.

Juicy, threaded logs of deep brown koobideh are my litmus test for any Iranian restaurant. If the chef can lay his hands on the choicest cut of lamb, fatty enough to achieve the zenith of succulence, yet steering clear of the chewy chasm of rubbery meat, he has won me over as his patron.

The fine, twice-minced texture of the lamb makes this kabab far friendlier to the jaws than drier chicken kababs or tougher lamb fillets. The butter basting over the grill, together with the spice mix — potentially some combination of onion powder, sour sumac, garlic, salt and other secret spices — rob me of civilised dinner conversation, leaving only the most indiscreet, guttural moans of satisfaction in its place. Have the kabab with long-grained rice jewelled with sour barberries (zereshk).

My preferred koobideh haunts include Sadaf, Khoory Special Kababs, Abshar, and the award-winning Shabestan at the Deira Creek.

Sadaf Restaurant's original branch is on Al Maktoum Street, Deira, 04 222 1622; Khoory Special Kabab Restaurant is opposite Emirates NBD Bank, after Canadian Hospital, behind Ramada Continental Hotel, Deira, 04 266 6322; Abshar Restaurant is on Jumeirah Beach Road next to the FatBurger, 04 394 0950; and Shabestan is at the Radisson Blu, Deira Creek, 04 222 7171

Arva Ahmed blogs about delicious ethnic eats in Old Dubai at www.iliveinafryingpan.com