Shish kebab (Turkish: şiş kebap; Persian/Mazandarani: شیش کباب, šiš kabāb) is a popular meal of skewered and grilled cubes of meat. It is similar to or synonymous with a dish called shashlik, which is found in the Caucasus region.
It is one of the many types of kebab, a range of meat dishes originating in the Middle East. In English, the word kebab alone often refers to shish kebab, though outside of North America, kebab may also mean doner kebab.
It is traditionally made of lamb (kuzu şiş) but there are also versions with beef or veal (dana şiş), swordfish (kılıç şiş) and chicken meat (tavuk şiş or şiş tavuk). In Turkey, shish kebab and the vegetables served with it are grilled separately, normally not on the same skewer.
Shish kebab is an English rendering of Turkish: şiş (sword or skewer) and kebap (roasted meat dish). The word kebab, alone, came to English in the late 17th century, from the Arabic: كَبَاب (kabāb), partly through Urdu, Persian and Turkish. The Turkish word kebap is derived from the Arabic word, meaning roasted meat. It appears in Turkish texts as early as the 14th century, in Kyssa-i Yusuf (the story of Joseph), though still in the Arabic form. Etymologist Sevan Nişanyan states that the word has the equivalent meaning of "frying/burning" with "kabābu" in the old Akkadian language, and "kbabā/כבבא" in Aramaic.
The earliest literary evidence for the Turkish word şiş as a food utensil comes from the 11th-century Diwan Lughat al-Turk, attributed to Mahmud of Kashgar. He defines shish as both a skewer and "tool for arranging noodles" (minzam tutmaj), though he is unique in this regard as all subsequent known historical references to shish define it as a skewer.
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