Have you had a chance to try the Kebab Houses – Kebapci – in Turkey? They appear in every corner and the smells, never ending array of mezzes and kebabs coming along are a feast to all senses, a must experience. Here are a few photos from the kebab scene at home, in Turkey, to help set the mood:
Usta, master of kebab makers, work around the Ocakbasi – an open fire grill – and prepare the melt-in-the mouth kebabs and grilled vegetables in front of you – so tempting!
As soon as you arrive to the Kebab Houses in Turkey, you are greeted with array of mezzes; Warm hummus with Turkish dried beef sausages or pastrami (dried cured beef) on top, Piyaz salad of onions, tomatoes, parsley with a sumac dressing , Gavurdagi Salata of tomatoes, onions and walnuts with pomegranate dressing and many more. They are delicious and you need to pace yourself, otherwise you will be full before the main event of kebabs arrives!
And here is the lahmacun ustas, masters at work; shaping their own dough and topping with ground lamb, onion, tomatoes and herbs. With a squeeze of lemon over the top, this is the ultimate lunch or a gorgeous starter for me. You can make your own lahmacun, Turkish thin pizza with ground lamb, tomatoes and onion topping at home; always a favorite with children and guests.
Iskender Kebab is another specialty offered at the Kebab Houses in Turkey; at the bottom is the freshly baked flat bread, topped with a spread of tomato sauce. Then comes the slices of doner kebab, topped with the melted butter sauce, with plain yoghurt by the side. This kebab is a feast, and one of the most popular in Turkey – who can resist?
In Gaziantep, minced (ground meat) is prepared by chopping it into the size of wheat grains with a special curved bladed knife called Zirh. Hand chopped meat has a lot more flavor than machine minced (ground) meat, because the meat does not lose its texture. Check out how Vakkas Usta cuts the meat fresh for each kebab depending on the customers preferences, at IstanbulEats.
Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish specialty; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. The kebabs are wonderful when chargrilled in the barbecue in summer time, but equally delicious grilled in the oven. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab is a real crowd pleaser, and can make any day special. The refreshing Yoghurt and cucumber dip, Cacik, complements the kebab very well.
I am passionate about healthy, delicious Turkish cuisine; this recipe and over 90 healthy, authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies are now 30 % off and delivered worldwide including USA, if you like to get a signed copy.
Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes
For the kebabs:
500 gr/1 ¼ lb/ 2 ¼ cups ground lamb (or a ground meat of your choice, or a mixture)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
60ml/4 tbsp pistachios, shelled
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
5ml/1 tsp red pepper or paprika flakes; kirmizi biber
5ml/ 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
A bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil to help shape the kebabs
For the roasted vegetables:
3 colorful bell peppers, deseeded and cut in thick slices lengthways and a few chilli peppers deseeded, OR 10-12 sweet and chilli small, colorful peppers, cut in half lengthways and deseeded
4 medium tomatoes, halved and cut in chunky slices
1 medium onion, halved and cut in chunky slices
45ml/ 3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large flat bread; pide, or 4 pitta bread, sliced lengthways
Yoghurt and cucumber dip with dried mint, Cacik (give link) to serve
Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F
First roast your vegetables. Place the onion, peppers and tomatoes in a baking tray. Drizzle the olive oil over, season with salt and pepper. Give them all a good mix to make sure all the vegetables are coated with olive oil and the seasoning. Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, giving them a mix half way. I like to roast the vegetables rather than grilling, to save and enjoy all the wonderful juices of them over the flat bread.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the kebabs. First have a bowl of water, drizzled with olive oil ready aside, to knead and help shape the kebabs into the skewers. Pulse the shelled pistachios in a food processor a few times, until it is grainy. Place the ground lamb in a bowl, stir in the pistachios, chopped onions, garlic and parsley. Season with salt and ground pepper, add the red pepper / paprika flakes. Wet your hands in the water & olive oil mixture and knead well to a smooth paste. Cover and rest for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted in the oven.
Once the vegetables chargrilled, take the tray out of the oven, cover and set aside (you may need to warm the vegetables before serving).
Put the grill into its highest setting and start shaping the kebabs. With the bowl of water & olive oil mixture by your side, take a handful of the meat mixture, and press it around grilling skewer into a shape of a flat sausage. Wet your hands with the water & olive oil mixture; this will help shaping the meat into the skewers, keep the meat moist and intact.
As soon as the kebabs are shaped, cook them under the grill/broiler for about 4 minutes or until they are golden and cooked through that side. Then place the sliced flat bread or pitta bread on a tray and put the tray under the grill, at the bottom of the kebabs. Turn the kebabs and cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until they are golden on the other side too. In the meantime, the flat breads will capture all the wonderful juices of the kebab.
Also at this stage place the roasted vegetables back to the oven to keep warm.
Once the kebabs are cooked, prepare your serving tray. Put the grilled, warm flat bread slices side by side on the tray. Place the kebab skewers in the middle and the roasted vegetables at each side, making sure their wonderful juice also make it to the tray. Serve this delicious kebab with the Yoghurt and cucumber dip, Cacik, by the side.
[MARKED AS SPAM BY ANTISPAM BEE | Server IP]
I only recently discovered that finely chopped beef is much better than minced. I now make my bolognese sauce like this and it has so much more flavour.
I agree with you; the flavor improves dramatically if the meat is cut by hand rather than machine – butchers are mostly happy to do this for you.
I love pistachios but for some reason I don’t think I’ve ever used them in this way. This sounds like a lovely combination. I’m feeling seriously hungry now.
Thanks Phil, pistachios do work well in the kebabs, love their rich, nutty flavor – glad you liked it!
I will have to try these kebabs – chopping mince by hand instead of machine minced I discovered in a small restaurant here in Vaison where they serve the best ever beef tatare – what a difference the cut makes!
Hi Barbara, you are so right, hand cut meat improves the flavor so much; best wishes to you, x Ozlem
wonderful photos Ozlem! I love the flavour of pistachios and even better if added to food. Ciao!
Ciao Alida, thank you, pistachios do work well in the kebabs – happy holidays! x Ozlem
Mmmmmmm…i want some!
Perhaps we may enjoy some together when I am in Istanbul in Feb ?:) x Ozlem
I had the pleasure while in college of enjoying many meals with an Iranian family. The kebabs were front-center of the meal, and I loved them. The flavor could not be beat. I have so many fond memories.
While traveling in Europe, we enjoyed so many local turkish restaurants that served up delicious kebabs.
Loved your post.
Happy Holidays to you.
Thank you Velva; we share a culinary heritage eith our Iranian friends and it is wonderful to see the similarities and variations in our cuisines, so glad you had such a positive experience and enjoyed the post. Best wishes for the holidays to you too, Ozlem x
The kebap houses look like the place to visit, Ozlem, wonderful reading about them…and your pistachio lamb kebabs are simply delicious and flavor filled! They remind me so much of of the Indian seekh kebabs:) another similarity…and the colorful roasted vegetables make a perfect accompaniment to the yummy kebabs! Great recipe and post. xx Peri.
Thank you Peri, the Kebab Housed back home is a must try, such a treat – so hope you make it there – ideally together : ) I greatly enjoy seeing the similarities in our cuisines too, look forward to the Indian seekh kebabs 🙂 xx Ozlem
Beautiful photos! I love pistachio nuts and I especially love lamb! (Just ask Peri.) I am definitely going to try this.
Thank you Marcella for stopping by – we share a love of lamb, nuts and spices with Peri 🙂 I am glad you will have a go for this kebab, one of our favorites!
I made the pistachio kebabs at the weekend, and served them with the carrot and yoghurt mezze on the side; It was sensational! Absolutely delicious – and quick and easy to prepare too. Thank you Ozlem for your wonderful recipes, more and more of them are becoming the dishes that I cook regularly.
Merhaba Dido, I am absolutely thrilled to hear your pistachio kebabs were a success and you all enjoyed them, no better complement, you made my day! They are easy, delicious and great for sharing, so glad you enjoy the recipes, it is a pleasure to share 🙂
I don’t have a grill so I need to bake the kebabs. What temperature and how long should I bake them? I can hardly wait to try this. I am so excited by all the new tastes I am anticipating from your recipes. They have me excited about cooking again. Thanks for that.
Dear Deborah, thank you for your kind comment, I am so glad the recipes inspire you and get excited, that’s all I would hope for : )I do bake my kebabs too, at about 200 or 400 F for about 25-30 minutes, until they are chargrilled nicely. Have you seen my recent post? this time I serve the kebabs in a cherry & tomato sauce; they complement each other so well. here is the link to my recent post of the kebabs with this sauce. I hope you enjoy it : ) https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2013/03/lamb-kebabs-with-pistachios-on-flat-bread-this-time-in-cherry-tomato-sauce-and-turkish-cookery-classes-coming-in-england-in-austin-texas/
Will broiling do the trick? I recall you listing to grill or broil them for 4 min?
Yes, broling should work- depending on the size of the kebabs, and how you like it, I would broil for 4 -6 minutes or so. Hope you enjoy them!:)
thank you Maryam!