Kebab, (also kebap, kabob, kebob, or kabab) is an Iranian, Afghan, Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean, and South Asian dish of pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit originating either in the Eastern Mediterranean, or the Middle East, before spreading worldwide. In American English, kebab with no qualification refers to shish kebab cooked on a skewer, whereas in Europe it refers to doner kebab. In the Middle East, however, kebab refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames; large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or as dürüm.
The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and religious prohibitions, other meats may include beef, goat, chicken, pork or fish. Like other ethnic foods brought by travellers, the kebab has remained a part of everyday cuisine in most of the Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia. Doner kebab is popular in Germany as a snack after a night out.
According to Sevan Nişanyan, an etymologist of the Turkish language, the word kebab is derived from the Persian word “kabab” meaning “fry”. The word was first mentioned in a Turkish script of Kyssa-i Yusuf in 1377, which is the oldest known source where kebab is mentioned as a food.
Tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. Persian kebab was served in the royal houses during various Islamic Empires and even commoners would enjoy it for breakfast with naan or pita.