Making shashlik is one of the oldest Russian traditions. It varies depending on which part of Russia are you in, but one thing stays the same – all Russians love it. It’s not just about grilled meat. It’s a fun activity that unites families.
Where this tradition came from?
Actually, cooking cutted in big pieces meat is an ancient tradition of nomadic people. Shashlik is native to Central and West Asia. The term shashlik is derived from the Turkish word shish (also used in the term shish kebab) which means “skewer”. But throughout the years it became one of the most popular Russian meals ever. In USSR people cooked shashlik every year at International Labour Day. They would buy a lot of meat (mostly pork or mutton) and go to the countryside. Usually, it was a big family reunion including not only family members, but also friends and colleagues. People who stayed in town usually went to parks or forest belt with specially equipped zones.
Nowadays this tradition hasn’t really changed. People still go to the countryside or parks, and cook meat with their close friends and family. Everyone loves doing it. As you can see, Russian tradition is not really different from western barbeque traditions.
Recipes and more!
If you want to make shashlik by yourself then keep reading, because we’ve got amazing recipes for you! But first of all you need to buy meat. For different kinds of shashlik you will need different kinds of meat. First step is to choose kind of meat that you want: beef, pork or mutton. If you want beef shashlik then buy beef tenderloin, for pork shashlik you will need just fat piece of meat. But try not to use fat meat. Fat will drop on coals and while burning it will evolve harmful substances. Anyway, there’s a lot of different tasty recipes out there, so we have selected our top 3 that will drive your guests crazy.
- 500 g meat (mutton)
- 2 onions
- 100 g green onions
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 Tbsp oil
- Take mutton, wash and cut into small pieces. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add chopped onions, vinegar and a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix well. Cover the dish and let the meat marinate for 2-3 hours in a cool place.
- Put the marinated meat on a metal skewer alternating the pieces of meat with sliced onion. Cook the skewers over burning hot coals approximately 15-20 minutes, turning the skewer so that the meat cooks evenly. If you do not have hot coals, it’s also possible to cook the meat in a frying pan.
- When the shashlik is ready, remove the meat and vegetables from the skewers, sprinkle with oil and garnish with green onions and tomatoes cut into slices, and slices of lemon. You can also serve the shashlik with boiled rice and pomegranate sauce. You can also cook pork this way.
Traditional Caucasian recipe
- 1 kg meat
- 10 g salt
- 200 g onion
- 3 g ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
For the sauce:
- 2 kg Tomatoes
- Onions – to taste
- 2 kg Pepper
- 2 bundle Cilantro
- 1 pouch Marjoram
- 1 bundle Basil
- 1 bundle Parsley
- 8 tooth Garlic
- 10 tsp Adjika
- Salt – to taste
- 4 tsp Ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp Hops-suneli
- Finely chop the onion, squeeze to the juice, mix with meat (meat you can use: veal, pork, lamb saddle, lamb brisket, chicken), add vegetable oil, salt, pepper. Leave the marinade for 6 hours.
- Fry the marinated meat on a heated and prepared grill for 20 minutes, turning the meat in a timely manner.
- Sauce: Wash and clean all vegetables, herbs. Twist in a meat grinder sweet pepper, garlic.
- Grind tomatoes, drain juice, boil flesh to thickness. Add mashed pepper, garlic. Salt and add all the spices.
- When serving, decorate with rings of red onions, greens.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, or just don’t like meat – don’t get upset, because there are plenty of vegan shashlik and BBQ recipes out there. For example, this one:
Tofu Vegetable Shashlik with Peanut Sauce
- ½ cup smooth, unsalted peanut butter
- ½ cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari, or soy sauce (use gluten-free tamari if you are gluten-sensitive)
- 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine, available in most supermarkets) or white Sherry wine
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 400 gr extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium onion, quartered and cut into chunks
- 250 gr mushrooms, quartered (or halved if small)
- Soak 10 skewers in water for 20-30 minutes.
- Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and stir until the peanut butter is mixed in. Place the cubed tofu in the sauce and marinate for 20 minutes.
- Remove the tofu from the sauce, then thread the tofu and vegetables onto the skewers.
- When the coals are nice and hot, grill the skewers for 7-10 minutes, turning several times and brushing liberally with the peanut sauce. Drizzle any additional sauce over the skewers just before serving.
For more vegan recipes click here
Shashlik is one of the most varied dishes in the world. There are millions of recipes and everyone cooks shashlik in their own way. Meat or vegetarian, with or without sauce, one thing remains unchanged: for centuries, this dish has gathered old friends and brings families together. Make a shashlik and see for yourself.
Wanna get some special discounts to the best venues in Moscow? Join our Intermark Club and get your full access to the most exciting events in Moscow, top tips about living in Russia and special offers from our partners!
Author: Ekaterina Efimova