Rosemary Lamb Kebabs with Smoky Eggplant

updated Jun 16, 2021
Rosemary Lamb Kebabs with Smoky Eggplant

Fire up the grill and make this meat-y main plus smoky eggplant dip for dinner. Serve with grilled pita bread and dry rosé.


Makes4 kebabs

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Credit: Johnny Autry

This recipe is a part of Paula Disbrowe’s summer grilling menu. You can find all the recipes in the package here.

Perfumed with warm spices and fresh oregano, skewers of charred lamb make a striking and satisfying weeknight dinner (just add olives and a cold bottle of dry pink wine). In terms of a game plan here, it’s best to coal-roast the eggplant first, so you have time to drain its excess moisture before puréeing (you can cook the eggplant up to two days in advance). While the eggplant rests, you’ll have time to pull together the other elements and then grill the lamb over direct heat. Your grill should be able to hold its temperature during the process, but if it dips, just add a few wood chunks before you cook the meat. The smoky eggplant purée, a scattering of tart pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and lemon are complements to the rich, spicy meat. Serve with grilled pita bread.

Paula Disbrowe, author of Thank You for Smoking

Rosemary Lamb Kebabs with Smoky Eggplant

Fire up the grill and make this meat-y main plus smoky eggplant dip for dinner. Serve with grilled pita bread and dry rosé.

Makes 4 kebabs

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    sturdy rosemary sprigs, each about 8 inches (20 cm) long

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    pounds (680 g) boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch (4 to 5 cm) cubes

  • 1/4 cup

    (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    Sichuan peppercorns

  • 2 teaspoons

    cumin seeds

  • 2 teaspoons

    coriander seeds

  • 3 tablespoons

    chopped fresh oregano

  • 2 teaspoons

    Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, finely chopped

  • 2

    large eggplants

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 2 teaspoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)

  • Toasted pine nuts, for garnish (optional)

  • Lemon wedges, for serving

  • Grilled pita bread, for serving


  1. Remove all the rosemary leaves from the branches except 2 inches (5 cm) at the top of each sprig. Using a sharp knife, cut the leafless end of each branch at an angle to make a point, which will make it easier to skewer the lamb. Save the rosemary leaves you removed for another use. Place the lamb in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with enough oil to coat, season generously with salt, and toss to combine.

  2. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the peppercorns, cumin, and coriander until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the spices to cool, then coarsely grind them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Add the ground spices, the oregano, Korean red pepper flakes, and garlic, followed by 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) oil to the lamb and toss to combine. Set the meat aside to marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.

  3. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high.

  4. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, add your smoke source (chips, chunks, or log).

  5. Place the eggplants directly on the coals (if cooking on a gas grill, place the eggplants directly on the grates) and cook, using tongs to turn them occasionally, until the skins are blackened and tender and the eggplants have collapsed, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the eggplants to a rimmed baking sheet to cool slightly, and then slice them open lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the tender insides, discarding the charred skin and stems. Place the eggplant flesh in a colander and let the excess moisture drain for 15 to 30 minutes (as time allows).

  6. Meanwhile, skewer the lamb onto the rosemary skewers and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

  7. Return the cooking grate to its position, allow it to preheat, and then carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again.

  8. When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place the kebabs over direct heat, close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and smoke for about 4 minutes, or until medium-rare, turning the kebabs often. Keep the lamb warm on an upper tier rack of your grill, if it has one, or transfer the kebabs to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil while you finish the eggplant.

  9. Place the drained eggplant in the bowl of a food processor with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and pulse into a coarse puree. Add the tahini and lemon juice and process until smooth.

  10. Transfer the puree to a serving bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  11. Serve the lamb kebabs over a slather of eggplant purée drizzled with olive oil. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts and serve with lemon wedges and grilled pita bread.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Thank You for Smoking: Fun and Fearless Recipes Cooked with a Whiff of Wood Fire on Your Grill or Smoker by Paula Disbrowe, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Credit: Courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Find the Book: Thank You for Smoking by Paula Disbrowe