BBQ Lamb Skewers


Here in Adelaide we’re having something of a ‘hot’ week … today we hit 44.2°C and I spent the morning at a local pool wearing out my small child. It appears to have worked, as he then slept for over a couple of hours, which is the most sensible activity for pretty much anyone at the moment!

It’s actually too hot to contemplate barbecuing (we tried last night and Andy melted into a little puddle …) but by the time Saturday rolls around, this weather will be a distant memory and summer will be back on an even keel with temperatures in the high twenties/low thirties and that is perfect BBQ weather.

I have had this recipe tagged for ages – but wasn’t able to make it because we’ve had something of a time tracking down szechuan pepper. Andy sourced me some for Christmas so you can now expect to see szechuan pepper in almost everything.

The original recipe calls these Xinjiang skewers. On reading the recipe, I thought it sounded remarkably Uyghur like (yes, my whole one Uyghur restaurant experience qualified me to have that thought!) and it turns out that Xinjiang (or, more formally, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) is the province in China in which most Uyghur live.

There you go – recipes and a bit of geography/politics to boot!

Tone down (or dial up) the chilli or szechuan pepper to suit. We found that the quantities given worked well (and weren’t so spicy that our toddler couldn’t make a fair first of things either). And, of course, you can always substitute chicken (or other BBQ friendly meat) for the lamb.

The marinade has the bonus of being extremely quick and easy to make and versatile. It is also great to make ahead to take to BBQs – beats supermarket snags with almost no effort!

We’ve given this recipe a couple of outings already. The first time we made it, we had no skewers (long story) so there was no point in photographing it. It would have been ‘lamb on a plate’. For that – see my interpretation (via Elizabeth David) of the Greek arni souvlaki.

Don’t want to print? Download the lamb skewers recipe as a pdf!

BBQ Lamb Skewers


  • 1 kg lamb shoulder, cut into large bite sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper (as freshly ground as possible)
  • 1 tsp ground szechuan pepper
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tbsp peanut oil (or other neutral flavoured oil)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • salt to taste


  1. Combine all the ingredients (bar the lamb) to make a marinade, and then mix the lamb through with your hands, ensuring that it's evenly coated with the marinade.
  2. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate for as long as possible - preferably overnight but if you're in a real hurry, half an hour will do.
  3. Heat a grill or BBQ and thread the cubes of lamb onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them for at least an hour before using so that they don't splinter and don't catch on fire!
  4. Cook the skewers, turning frequently, until the lamb is done to your liking.
  5. Serve with plenty of salad.

Tangritah Uyghur

date of visit:  December 2009

NOTE: since our visit the restaurant now claims to be under new management … we haven’t made it back to see if things have changed.

It was up to Andy to choose a venue for a Friday night dinner and, without hesitating, he knew he wanted to try out Tangritah Uyghur* on Grote Street.

This is a restaurant which is easy to miss – it is towards Morphett Street on the northern side of Grote, with a tiny shop frontage. A sign announces “Tangritah Uyghur Shish Kebab Restaurant: all foods are especially handmade”.

The Uyghur are an ethnic group which, predominantly, lives in north western China. They are Turkic, rather than Chinese, and their religion is Islam. In recent times, there has been some tension between the Uyghurs in China and the Chinese administration.**

Inside, the restaurant has just a few tables and the majority are set up bench-style, so you may end up sharing space with other diners. It is quite basic but as long as you’re not expecting silver-service I can’t see how this would be a problem.

There’s quite a range of dishes on the menu, and most are handily priced at just $10.  We opted for lamb kebabs (5 for $10), a lamb pan pie (both Uyghur specialties) and a dumpling soup.  To drink we just enjoyed the green tea.  This meant that the bottom line was just $30 for ample food for 2.

The kebabs were served on huge skewers with a sensible dose of chilli.  By this I mean that you could taste the chilli but it would probably only frighten the most sensitive palates.

For me the real wins of the meal were the pan pie and the dumpling soup.  In my opinion, it’s possible that Tangritah Uyghur’s dumplings give Dumpling King a run for its money.  Of course, that might be a point which requires further investigation …

The pan pie was not for the faint hearted … a lightly spiced lamb mince filling was encased in bread and then shallow fried.  This is the type of food I love but it’s possible that people watching their diet might feel a little differently!

We polished off all of our food and felt very full afterwards so I suspect we may have been a little ambitious when it came to ordering.  We watched tables near us and parties of 4 were happy sharing one of the $25 hot pots.  A lot of the food is very rich and works on the principle of taking a little meat and making it go a long way.  The lamb pan pie, in particular, would be fantastic winter fare.

If you happen to be near the Central Markets and you happen to be hungry, then a visit to Tangritah Uyghur should be on your list of things to do.

Tangritah Uyghur Shishkebab Restaurant on Urbanspoon

address: 116 Grote Street, Adelaide, SA, 5000

Tangritah Uyghur

Incredibly cheap and tasty

Cheap, tasty Uyghur food – specialties like dumpling soup, shishkebabs and lamb pan pies. Hearty and warming food.

Rating:4.0 stars

*If, like me, you have no idea how to pronounce this, it’s “wee-gar”.
** As this is a food blog rather than an ethnography or political blog, I’m going to leave it at that.