Arab Kebab- or Arap Kebabi, as we say in Turkish – is a juicy, delicious specialty made in the homes in Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. This kebab is also so easy to make; I remember my mother making in almost no time, with delicious aromas coming from the kitchen, and how we used to dip our potato and bulgur patties to its delicious sauce. Antakya is a city rich in history and traditions; I greatly admire that folks from different religions and backgrounds live and trade happily there over many centuries. This kebab is a heritage passed from the Arab community living in Antakya region.
There is abundance of onion in this kebab, which makes it so delicious (and healthy too). I love the natural sweetness the onions bring out to the dish. There are no eggplants (aubergines) in the traditional Arab Kebab, though I like to add on my version. Again, the sweet, almost meaty texture of the eggplant goes so well in the kebab – you can simply take the eggplant out for the traditional Arab Kebab. We also like to add red pepper paste to this kebab, for a richer, spicier flavor. You can make your own red pepper paste; here is my recipe if you would like to have a go.
My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland is available to order at this link, and includes this recipe and many other wholesome, authentic Turkish recipes, if you’d like to get one.
The potato & bulgur patties with onion and parsley go so well with Arab Kebab. We like to add a few potatoes to the kebab to cook, so that they can soak up this wonderful sauce. We then use these deliciously flavored cooked potatoes in our bulgur & potato patties. Dipping the patties to the sauce of Arab Kebab is just heavenly.
You can make the Arab Kebab ahead of time and give a gentle heat just before serving. The left overs can also be frozen successfully.
Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 35 – 40 minutes
500 gr/1 1/4 lb/ 2 cups lean ground beef or lamb
3-4 medium onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium size eggplant, finely diced
1 green bell (or pointy) pepper, finely chopped
400gr/14oz can of good quality chopped tomatoes
15ml/1 tbsp red pepper paste – optional-
30ml/ 2 tbsp olive oil
12oz/ 1 1/2 cup hot water
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
5-10ml/1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3-4 medium potatoes skinned and halved (to be used for the potato & bulgur patties)
Cut each eggplant length wise and then about 3-4 in cubes, lay them on a wide flat tray and generously season with salt. This will help the moisture to come out of the eggplants. Leave for about 15 minutes. Drain the water that came out of the eggplants and squeeze them with a paper towel to extract the excess water.
Heat the oil in a large wide pan and sauté the onions for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Stir in the ground meat and sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the eggplants, garlic, green pepper and cook for further 4-5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, red pepper paste and the hot water, giving a good stir. Stir in the potatoes to the mixture. Season with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes, combine well.
Cover the pan and gently simmer for about 30 minutes, until all the ingredients cooked and the sauce thickened. Stir in the chopped parsley and combine well, the Arab Kebab is ready. The end result should have a good amount of juice/liquid, as we would like to dip the potato & bulgur patties this sauce. Take the cooked potatoes out to be used in the potato & bulgur patties.
Have you ever tried this kebab or any variation of it? I would love to hear from you 🙂