Recipe Corner: Heroine Hatoon Bazarian’s Shish Kebab Recipe


Mouth-watering lamb shish kebab is at the core of award-winning chef Jon Koobation’s Armenian heritage and family history.  This recipe came from Jon’s beloved maternal grandmother, the late Hatoon Bazarian.  Growing up in the small farm town of Dinuba, Calif., the sight of a pile of grape wood stumps in the backyard and the smell of the lamb cooking on skewers is something Jon will never forget from his childhood. “When the meat finished cooking, it was taken off the skewers and placed into a large pan or bowl that had been lined with fresh Armenian peda bread which had been brought to the table.  We all grabbed for the warm bread which had soaked up the juices from the barbequed lamb.  This family ritual was almost better than the meat itself,” he says.  In honor of his grandmother, her authentic shish kebab recipe was served for many years at Jon’s Bear Club, Jon’s celebrated restaurant in Reedley, California, and is featured in Cooking With Jon, his acclaimed cookbook.

As a young woman, Jon says, Hatoon was a heroine to many people before she came to America, after her first husband and young child were killed.  Her incredible story is presented in the award-winning film documentary, “Women of 1915.”

“The documentary combines facts and emotion to honor the brave women of the Armenian Genocide, many of whom lost their family and lives, survived to create new lives, or were forced into lives that were not their own.  My grandmother appears in the film disguised as a young man protecting her town during the Armenian Genocide.  She was a warrior and fighter for her country.  At the risk of her own life, my grandmother was able to escape the brutal tyranny by fleeing to Syria, where she emerged as a courageous freedom fighter, defending her family and friends during World War I,” he adds.

Hatoon Bazarian disguised as a boy, defending her family during the Armenian Genocide

“In 1922, she immigrated to the United States, met my grandfather, Harry Bazarian, in Detroit, Michigan, and they were married.  They then came to California and settled in the San Joaquin Valley, where she became a proud citizen, and began a new life and a family, grateful for the countless opportunities this land afforded.  In her lifetime, this remarkable woman taught us so many things, but she never let her painful past hold her back or make her bitter – she moved on with her life through the sheer power of optimism and hope,” says Jon.


1 leg of lamb, boned, cut into 2 oz. pieces (lamb loin may be used instead of the leg, for a more tender piece of meat without gristle)

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1 tablespoon whole Greek oregano

6 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

For the marinade:

6 yellow onions, small dice

2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, minced

2 cups canola oil

1 1/2 cups cream sherry wine, no substitute

Serves 6.

For the lamb:

The lamb must be seamed and all sinew must be removed.  Season meat well in a large bowl or pan, turning and mixing, making sure each piece of meat is seasoned.

Add the onion and parsley, and mix well.  Now add the marinade and mix well again.  The meat should be covered by the onions and marinade. This should marinate for at least a day or two, stirring or mixing the meat each day. (The meat will keep in the marinade for up to four days.)

Prior to barbecuing, lift the meat out of the marinade, set aside.  Strain the marinade through a fine sieve; let it sit for ten minutes.

In a large pan, cook the onions and parsley over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the onions begin to caramelize.  Use this as a condiment on top of the shish kebab.


ORDER TODAY: Professional recipes you can make at home from award-winning chef Jon Koobation.  Jon is the recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award in the California Restaurant Association’s “Best of the Valley” awards.  Contact Jon at to order his book and for a personally signed copy.  His cookbook is also available for sale at The Market Grocery Store and at Sam’s Deli & Cucina in Fresno, California.  Order his cookbook directly at Amazon Books at:

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