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Seek, Sish Kebab


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The terminology appears to vary from country to country, and region to region, but I'm wondering if anyone knows what the words "SEEK" and "SISH" means, and where they come from -- as well as what they apply to.

I was introduced to these kind of kebabs at Abdul's Takeaway in Manchester, England. There, the seek kebab was made of minced lamb -- and it tends to be the same here in the US, except they tend to substitute beef due to local preferences. Their sish kebab was chunks of lamb, marinated.

I just heard someone refer to a ground chicken kebab as "Chicken Seek Kebab" and I wondered, does seek mean lamb? Or does it just mean ground? And what does sish mean?

Would really appreciate some enlighted comments on this one... Thanks!

Edit: Okay, I snooped around a bit, and have found that "Sish" is a generic term for anything that's skewered, possibly of Turkish origin. Wikipedia lists "Seek" as Pakistani in origin, but it doesn't say anything about the word's original meaning.

So I guess what I'm asking is, does seek mean minced, or lamb, or something else?

Edited by Grub (log)
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As far as I know, "Seekh Kebabs" are exclusive to South Asia, mostly India and Pakistan. In Hindi/Urdu "seekh" refers to the skewer on which the kebab is grilled. I think the word is Persian in origin and means the same in that language as well. The word for mince (of any kind) is "qeema".

Traditionally, Seekh Kebab in India and Pakistan refers to kebabs made with goat meat or beef mince (a lamb version may exist, but I haven't come across it). A particularly fine variation of the Seekh Kebab is known as the Kakori Kebab, where the kebab is almost melt-in-the-mouth tender. The Chicken Seekh Kebab is a of fairly recent provenance, and is pretty unconventional.

Shish is distinct from Seekh and in most Iranian and Lebanese restaurants I've been to refers to skewered chunks of meat, usually interspersed with bell peppers and onions. Similar to Shish Kebab in India and Pakistan is the Tikka or Boti Kebab.

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Edit: Okay, I snooped around a bit, and have found that "Sish" is a generic term for anything that's skewered, possibly of Turkish origin.

In Turkish, its "Sis Kebap"

I always thought "Seekh" or "Sikh" referred to the Indian Sikh religion itself and that Seekh Kebab was a dish of that culture, which originated in the Punjab province in India. I've had it in Indian restaurants as well and its definitely tubes of minced meat on skewers -- and I have been told Seekh Kebab is Punjabi in origin.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The word 'sikh' in the Sikh religion is not related to the seekh of seekh kebab.

Sikh (short i sound, as in 'pin') is derived from Sanskrit, and means 'pupil' or 'acquirer of knowledge'

Seekh (long i sound, as in 'meet') is derived from Persian. Seekh means rod, skewer, spit, or bar. I believe this is derived fom the root verb 'sukhtan', which means to burn, or to roast.

As far as seekh kebabs being unique to South Asia is concerned: if referring to kebabs only by this name, then maybe this is true (?).

However, the roasting of meat on skewers is of course far more widespread. Spicing and names of course vary, but they range from at least Xinjiang (NW China), across to Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, etc. Not of course to forget the sate of SE Asia...

Anzu (now longing to eat sate, shaslik, Xinjiang skewered meats flavored with cumin...)

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Keema/Qeema is mince

Seekh /Seek/Sikh is skewer

Boti is essentially term for a boneless cube of lamb/goat/beef cut across the fiber

Tikka generally used for boneless chicken or fish

Sheesh like posted earlier of mideast/Turkish origin is any meat/fish skewered

with a variety of veggies

Chicken seekh kabab has been around but called Reshmi(silky) kabab

Kakori kabab usually made with goat mince and has some tenderiser like papaya

added to it

kebab/ kabab/ kabob all mean grilled meats

Grilled veggies being called kababs is a fairly recent trend owing to increase in

vegetarianism and vegans

Grilling of meats IMO definitely predates any other style of cooking meats since all

required was fire and meats- everything else was refined later with pots and

pans being used to make all kinds of STEWS. One finds grilled meats in every

civilization using whatever was locally available.

Sudhir Seth



Passage to India

4931 Cordell Avenue Bethesda MD 301 656-3373



100-B, Gibbs Street, Rockville MD 301 610-0303


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As far as seekh kebabs being unique to South Asia is concerned: if referring to kebabs only by this name, then maybe this is true (?).

I was only referring to the name. Minced meat on skewers is not unique to South Asia at all.

There is however a difference between Chicken Reshmi Kebabs and Chicken Seekh Kebabs. The Seekh kebabs are only made with minced meat. Chicken Reshmi Kebabs can be made with either mince or chunks of meat.

And as Anzu pointed out, Sikh and Seekh are not to be confused! :biggrin: So "Sikh" is not an acceptable transliteration at all since commonly it would be pronounced with the short "i" sound, and not the long "i" which is the correct transliteration from Hindi/Urdu/Farsi.

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"Sikh" is not an acceptable transliteration at all since commonly it would be pronounced with the short "i" sound

Yeah, but if you do a Google search on "Sikh Kebab" you still come up with a lot of results.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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