Pomegranate and garlic give these grilled lamb kabobs a Middle Eastern edge, but the Turkic connection actually comes from the nomadic Uighur people of the Xinjiang autonomous region in northwest China.

Take a few minutes to prep the lamb and marinade in the morning or when you get home and it will be ready for quick cooking once you've settled in and fired up the grill. Serve with flatbreads (also grilled) and a crisp salad.

The recipe comes from

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China

by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Artisan, $40).

Uighur Lamb Kabobs

(Makes 4 servings)

1 pound boneless lamb leg or shoulder, cut into cubes

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup pomegranate juice (or lemon with 1 teaspoon sugar)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon each: salt and fresh ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


In advance, cut the lamb into 1-inch cubes, leaving on a little fat for flavor; set aside.

2. For the Marinade

, puree the onion in a processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the oil, juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne.


Add the lamb to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour (longer for more flavor).


When ready to proceed, heat the grill medium-hot.


Thread the lamb loosely (barely touching) onto 8 skewers. (If using bamboo, soak skewers in water 30 minutes.)


Place the kabobs on the grill, 4 to 5 inches from the hot coals. Grill for 2 minutes, turn and continue cooking to medium (pink in the middle) or as desired, up to 8 minutes. Serve as desired.

Per serving: 242 calories, 24 grams protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 13 grams fat, 71 milligrams cholesterol, 674 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.