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Cumin lamb skewers

Summer BBQ
Makes 10 skewers

These skewers are inspired by Yang Rou Chuan, the famous street food skewers of Xinjiang, in North Western China. If you can grill these on the BBQ it’ll make all the difference, when the fat melts and hits the hot coals, the smoke envelops the meat and adds its distinctive flavour. The secret to the most flavourful lamb skewer, is indeed in the lamb fat. Little pieces of fat skewered in between the meat makes for a more succulent grill. Use lamb shoulder if you can for a good meat-to-fat ratio.


Lamb skewers
20g ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1½ tsp cumin seeds, roughly bashed in a pestle and mortar
1½ tsp chilli flakes
3 tbsp shaoxing wine
3 tbsp dark soy sauce (you can also use light soy sauce)
3 tbsp sunflower or another neutral oil
500g lamb shoulder, cut into approximately 3cm x 1½ cm cubes
10 metal or bamboo skewers, (bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least 30 minutes)
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
Spice rub
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp aleppo chilli flakes
Herb salsa
2 (10g) red chillies, thinly sliced at an angle
2-3 (45g) spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
10g coriander, roughly chopped
1 ½ tsp lemon juice
flaked sea salt


  1. First make the marinade. In a large bowl mix the ginger, cumin seeds, Shaoxing wine, soy and sunflower oil. Add the lamb to the bowl, mix well and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes to one hour.
  2. Meanwhile make the spiced rub. Place the cumin and Aleppo chilli in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.
  3. Preheat a griddle pan until smoking or fire up the barbecue.
  4. Divide the lamb and fat (if using) between the skewers, reserving the marinade in the bowl. Pinch the meat as you thread it through. This prevents it from rotating on the skewer when you flip it over.
  5. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 2 minutes on each side until you get nice char marks. Stir the sugar into the reserved marinade and brush over the skewers. Cook on both sides for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until glossy and slightly sticky. Set aside on a platter for 5 minutes.
  6. To make the herb salsa, place all the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl with ⅛ teaspoon of salt and mix well. Sprinkle the spiced rub over the skewers and drizzle over the olive oil. Serve with the herb salsa scattered on top.