Cumin Yogurt Kebabs with Two Sauces

Used by permission. The Little Local Vermont Cookbook: Recipes for Classic Dishes by Melissa Pasanen (W.W. Norton, 2020)

Vermont’s pastures were not always sprinkled with dairy cows. In the mid-1800s, the state was all about sheep. Their wool—and waves of immigrants—fueled New England textile mills. Mill workers from Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia brought their traditional cuisines, which featured lamb, yogurt, and the fresh herbs they grew in small garden plots.

Serve these kebabs with a grilled summer vegetables over rice, accompanied by the yogurt-cumin and Emerald Herb sauces.

Prep Time

260 minutes

Cook Time

12 minutes


4 Servings


1 1⁄2 cups yogurt, plain
1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon cumin, ground
2 teaspoons salt, kosher (plus more to taste)
1 1⁄2 pounds lamb, shoulder or leg (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh)
  Emerald Herb Sauce ((see recipe below) for serving)
2 cups herbs, green (basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro)
1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon capers (drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt, kosher (plus more to taste)
1⁄3 cup olive oil


Cumin - Yogurt Lamb Kebabs Recipe

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, cumin, and salt. Transfer ½ cup of the yogurt mixture to a medium container or large zip-top plastic bag. Add the lamb to the container and combine until well coated. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

Stir the lemon juice into the remaining cup of yogurt-cumin sauce. Taste and add salt as desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to cook, heat a grill to medium. Thread the meat onto skewers, making sure not to pack them too tightly.

Grill the skewers, turning several times, until evenly browned and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the? grill.

Serve with the reserved yogurt-cumin sauce and Emerald Herb Sauce.

Emerald Herb Sauce 

In a food processor, combine the herbs, garlic, capers, lemon juice, and salt and pulse into a paste, scraping down the sides a couple times.

While the processor is running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream until the sauce is emulsified. Taste and adjust the levels of salt and lemon juice as desired. Serve.

(Makes 3/4 cup)

Vegan/Vegetarian Option

Make yogurt sauce with your favorite plain plant-based yogurt for a vegan meal.

Marinate about 1 pound of cubed eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon coarse salt.

Brush portobello mushroom caps or toss button mushrooms with a second batch of the same mixture right before grilling.

Thread eggplant cubes and mushrooms on skewers to grill. Grill portobello mushroom caps straight on the grate.

Serve eggplant and mushrooms with yogurt and emerald herb sauces.


Used by permission. The Little Local Vermont Cookbook: Recipes for Classic Dishes by Melissa Pasanen (W.W. Norton, 2020)