• Don't throw out your meat tray! (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
Adam Liaw has a genius idea for shaping these thick Syrian kababs using the plastic tray your mince arrives in.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

25 Jun 2021 - 12:51 PM  UPDATED 7 Jul 2021 - 4:40 PM

 --- The Cook Up with Adam Liaw airs weeknights on SBS Food at 7.00pm. Watch Adam make kabab khashkhash on Friday 25 June or stream it free after broadcast on SBS On Demand. --- 


Before you recycle your next plastic mince meat tray, put it to work. This little plastic number will have you shaping perfectly square kababs in no time.

In the Syrian episode of The Cook Up, Adam Liaw whips this ingenious trick out of his hat to make kabab khashkhash.

Get the recipe
Frying pan kabab khashkhash

This Syrian kabab is made from lamb mince and served on roasted tomatoes. Usually made on a charcoal barbecue, you can make a relatively simple version in a frying pan at home.

Kabab khashkhash is a dish attributed to the city of Aleppo in Syria. It’s made of minced lamb flavoured with spices, garlic and chopped chilli, and served on a bed of crushed tomatoes – crying out to be mopped up with some flatbread. There are a few ingredients to chop and add to the mince and is a very low fuss way to your next meal. You can also make it with any kabab seasoning you like, but this one is certified delicious (by me).

Adam’s recipe recommends chilling the kabab mix for 2 hrs in the fridge after pressing into the plastic tray but if you don’t have the time it’ll work just fine without. Be patient when you turn it out the lamb may take a minute to un-stick from the tray.

You can find baharat at Middle Eastern grocers and some supermarkets. If you can't find it just sub in garam masala.

How to make meat tray kabab

For the tomatoes, halve tomatoes and roast with salt and olive oil at 200°C for 20 minutes until soft and blistered. Pick off skins and chop.

Meanwhile, finely chop 1 red and one green chilli, 6 cloves of garlic and a small handful of parsley.

Add these to a 500 g pack of lamb mince along with 1 tsp crushed Aleppo pepper, 1 tsp of seven spice (Baharat), a ¼ tsp of ground cinnamon, plenty of salt and pepper to season and a drizzle of olive oil.

Mix well with your hands, kneading the meat to make a paste – this will give the kebabs a bouncy texture vs crumbly.

Press the mix back into the plastic meat tray and chill in the fridge if you have time, otherwise, flip the tray over onto a chopping board and turn out. Cut into four rectangular slabs.

Fry the kababs in a large frypan over medium-high heat for around 5 minutes total until well browned.

Serve over roasted tomatoes with thinly sliced red onion, parsley and sumac to garnish.

Pass the pita!

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Chicken, lemon and saffron kebab (joojeh kabab)

Some versions of this insanely easy-to-make Iranian classic feature yoghurt and ground, dried chilli in the marinade, so add these if you like. Don't skimp on the marinating time - it tenderises the chicken and infuses it with an unforgettably tangy, aromatic flavour.