Coat Your Lamb Kebabs in Cumin and Chile

How to make a Western Chinese classic

In Western China—spitting distance from the Silk Road nations of the Middle East—cumin and chile are iconic flavors and frequently combined. A common target for their earthy, spicy kick? Lamb. Especially lamb kebabs.

In this recipe, adapted from Chinese cooking expert Carolyn Phillips, you combine a simple mix of chile powder, ground cumin, salt, and garlic. Rub it into your lamb generously and let the flavors meld in the fridge for at least six hours and up to 24. From there, once your grill is ready, the kebabs will be done in minutes.

Looking for more ways to get your kebab on? How about chicken marinated in Aleppo pepper and mint? Or try a Cambodian version that features a mix of lemongrass, kaffir lime, and fish sauce. Just find your favorite marinade to pair with your favorite meat, and you really can’t go wrong.

Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn)

The staple meats of Western China, lamb and mutton can be found folded into everything from pilafs to buns to noodles. Of course, they’re also the focal point of the region’s iconic kebabs. Seasoned with freshly ground cumin (zira in Farsi and zīrán in Chinese), which was probably introduced to Xinjiang from Persia, the kebabs get an extra kick from minced garlic cloves and ground chile powder. Get the recipe for Chile and Cumin Lamb Kebabs (Yángròu chuàn) »