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Beef Shish Kebab (Basturma Mtsvadi)

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“My most vivid memories of Moscow come from walking down the Arbot and (at certain times) seeing the kiosks set up in the pedestrian walkways. The most delicious smells emanating from each kiosk would make you start drooling! Some kiosks would be making Pampushki (the Ukrainian Doughnuts), others would be making Chebureki (the Crimean Lamb Pie), and others would be making Shashlik (the beef or lamb shish kebab). The following recipe comes from Georgia and is their version of Shashlik. Unlike the Armenians or Turks, Georgians make their Shashlik with beef. The Georgian chef uses sparkling water rather than wine or vinegar to marinate the meat in. They report that using wine or vinegar actually toughens the meat rather than tenderizing it. I prefer the pomegranate juice, if I can get it.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a large glass bowl, combine the wine, garlic, grated onion, peppercorns, ans salt, then add the meat and toss to coat well. Refrigerate, covered, for 6 to 8 hours, turning the meat occasionally. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for grilling. Coals must be coated with white ash before starting the grilling of the meat. Or preheat the broiler.
  3. Toss the onion and pepper wedges in a bowl with the oil.
  4. Remove the meat from the marinade and string it on long metal skewers, alternating meat cubes with onion and pepper wedges and pushing everything closely together.
  5. Grill (or broil) the skewers 4 inches above the coals, turning frequently and sprinkling with the marinade every 3 minutes. Cook 9 to 10 minutes for medium rare, 12 to 13 minutes for medium.
  6. To Serve:
  7. Line two serving platters with the radicchio leaves or the red kale. Cut into the tomatoes as though you were going to cut them into quarters, but leave them intact at the stems. Place one tomato in the middle of each platter. Scatter lemon wedges and scallions on the platters. Stick the sharp end of each skewer into a zucchini slice. Place three skewers on each platter and bring the open ends together to form a tripod. Wrap the ends with a napkin to hold them together. Serve at once.

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