I got a jolt the other day when I turned on my computer. Luckily, it was good jolt: YouTube sent us a message that our “How To Make Shish Kebab” video had just passed 100,000 views.
That’s quite a milestone, considering how many other recipe videos are on the Web – and, really, considering that there are a zillion other ways for people to spend precious time.
One of the interesting features of YouTube is that each video displays the number of views. The totals for any music video from Beyoncé or the latest hijinks from Jimmy Kimmel can be mind-boggling. But there are plenty of cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs that don’t approach our audience size.
How can this be?
Much as it disappoints me, I’ll concede it’s probably not because of my on-camera charm or my dazzling skills as a videographer.
It’s really just further evidence of the English-speaking world’s growing taste for what was considered exotic food not very long ago. Armenians in America have been long been ahead of that curve.
I remember going to picnics in the park as a kid and watching my father fire up the kebab while people all around us grilled hamburgers. I felt sorry for them then, but it feels good at last to know I’ve done something to help.
And it’s not just Americans we’re educating: Our shish kebab video has been seen in 190 countries. The United States, the UK, Canada and Australia top the list but Sweden, believe it or not, completes the top five. The long list includes viewers in India, Malaysia, the Ukraine and Jamaica.
I’m particularly pleased that it’s even been watched 331 times in Armenia, where people already know quite a bit about making khorovatz.
The kebab video is our channel’s most popular, but there’s plenty of interest in our other recipes and techniques. Consider that we’ve had more than 40,000 views for Armenian coffee, 30,000 for pilaf and almost 20,000 for douzma.
In all, we’ve logged an amazing 330,000 views total. (It’s a good thing we’re hosting this virtual dinner party on the Internet because we don’t have nearly enough parking at the house.)
If you’ve watched any of these videos, you’ve noticed—and maybe you’ve been annoyed by—the short commercials at the beginning. That’s what’s called monetizing in Internet-speak. You’ve probably heard stories about people whose videos are so popular that they get rich from these ads.
We’ve heard those stories, too. I wish they were true.
Our reward for the extraordinary success of the shish kebab video so far: $102.09. After subtracting the cost of the lamb and other ingredients, the profit would just about pay for a couple of kebab platters at the church food festival.
That’s OK, really. As it has been from the start, this Kitchen remains a labor of love—our best effort at preserving the recipes and memories we hold dear while spreading the word about the glories of Armenian cuisine.
If you have an idea for another video that would help, just let us know. Meanwhile, thanks again for your enthusiastic support!
Kalajian Family Shish Kebab (Khorovatz)
- ½ leg of lamb (fat trimmed, cut into 1½" cubes )
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 4 tomatoes (medium, quartered)
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley (chopped)
- 2 medium garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1½ tbsp coriander (freshly ground if possible)
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
- ⅛ cup olive oil (for brushing on the meat before grilling)
- salt (to taste, right before grilling)
- 2 cups red wine or pomegranate juice
- Combine all ingredients EXCEPT the salt and olive oil in a bowl and let it marinate for a minimum of 6 hours and up to overnight. Toss at least once while marinating.
- Remove the onions and tomatoes from the marinade. You can either place them in tin foil and grill them, or cook them on the stovetop.
- Prep the grill.
- Skewer the meat and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt just before placing the skewers on the heat. Rotate the skewers to ensure the skewers cook evenly. The meat will cook quickly so keep a close eye to ensure it does not dry out. Test a piece to confirm if it's done. It should be slightly pink inside, but not raw.
- Serve with fresh lavash and enjoy!