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Simit Kebabi; Ground Meat and Bulgur Kebabs, Gaziantep Style

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab, Gaziantep Style

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab, Gaziantep Style

This delicious ground (minced) meat and bulgur kebab called Simit Kebabi, hails from Gaziantep, considered as one of the gastronomic capitals of Turkey. Fine bulgur is referred as Simit in Gaziantep and that’s where the kebab’s name come from (Simit is also the name of the popular Turkish street food, the sesame coated bread rings). Bulgur is an important ingredient in southern Turkish cooking; it appears in pilafs, mezzes like Icli Kofte, soups and in kebabs. Fine bulgur brings a wonderful texture and taste to this kebab, fragrantly spiced with cumin, red pepper flakes and dried mint. If you can’t find fine bulgur, you can ground the coarse bulgur in food processor in a couple of pulses; take care not to ground too much and turn the bulgur into fine powder.

Vakkas Usta preparing the meat using Zirh blade at Istanbul’s Şeyhmus Kebab; photo credit: IstanbulEats

It is important to have some fat content in the meat mixture for this kebab; traditionally, tail fat is included in this kebab in Gaziantep. The ustas, masters in Gaziantep prepare the ground (minced) meat for the Simit Kebabi, chopping by hand, using a special curved-bladed knife called Zirh. This method gives the meat a lot of flavor and much better texture; so if you can get your meat hand chopped by the butcher that would be great. If not, use ground lamb or beef with some good fat content in it.

I served my Simit Kebabi with roasted vegetables and garlic yoghurt by the side. You can wrap the kebab and roasted vegetables with a dollop of garlicy yoghurt, in Turkish flat breads or pita pockets. Here is my Turkish flat breads recipe if you’d like to make flat breads at home.

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab with roasted vegetables, Gaziantep Style

Simit Kebabi; Ground (minced meat) and bulgur kebab with roasted vegetables, Gaziantep Style

This recipe is inspired and adapted from the wonderful Gaziantep Cookery, A Taste of Sun and Fire cookery book, edited by Aylin Oney Tan. I hope you enjoy this delicious southern Turkish style kebab.

My Turkish Cookery Class at the Divertiment Cookery School, London;

Tuesday 13th October, 7pm – 9.15pm

A quick reminder of my Turkish cookery class on Tuesday 13th October, 7pm – 9.15pm at Divertimenti Cookery School, London. I will be teaching how to recreate delicious, wholesome Turkish classics such a spinach and feta filo pie, Ispanakli Borek, Turkish classic stuffed aubergines, Karniyarik, Spicy bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, Kisir and homemade baklava (much lighter and delicious!), along with tips and stories from my homeland. You will be amazed to see how easy each course is, also wholesome and packed with flavor. Here  is the class details. Booking is through the Divertimenti Cookery School, hope you can join us!

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Simit Kebabi; Ground Meat and Bulgur Kebabs, Gaziantep Style
This delicious ground (minced) meat and bulgur kebab called Simit Kebabi, hails from Gaziantep, one of the gastronomic capitals of Turkey. Serve this fragrantly spiced kebab with roasted vegetables and garlic yoghurt, in flat breads. Afiyet Olsun!
Recipe type: Southern Turkish, Gaziantep Style Kebab with Bulgur
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb. ground (minced) lamb
  • 75 gr / 2.6 oz. / ⅓ cup fine bulgur (or coarse bulgur, grounded to fine bulgur in food processor)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 80 ml/ 2.7 fl. oz./ ⅓ cup hot water
  • 15 ml/ 3 tsp. red pepper flakes (or a bit less if you prefer less spicy)
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp. dried mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Bowl of water to shape the simit kebab on skewers
  • For the roasted vegetables:
  • 2 medium eggplants (aubergines) quartered and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell (or pointy) pepper and 1 green bell (or pointy) pepper, deseeded and cut in chunks
  • 60 ml/ 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the garlicy yoghurt sauce:
  • 13 oz. / 1 ½ cup plain whole milk yoghurt
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed with a pinch of salt and finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F
  2. Place the fine bulgur in a bowl and pour in the hot water. Combine well and set aside for 10 – 15 minutes for the bulgur to absorb all the water and soften.
  3. Place the soften bulgur in a large mixing bowl and stir in the garlic, ground (minced) meat, red pepper flakes, ground cumin and dried mint. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Have a bowl of water by your side. Wet your hands and knead the mixture well for 5 – 8 minutes, until all combined.
  4. Wet your hands and take a large lump of the meat mixture – just a bit less than ½ cup and form into a ball. Mold it around and along the skewer, until it is evenly thick. Squeeze and shape the meat gently so that the meat sticks to the skewer. Work meat around and down the skewer while rotating skewer with bottom hand until kebab is ¾" in diameter. Cover the skewered meat in cling film and refrigerate until firm, for about 30 minutes.
  5. Now prepare your vegetables. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in zebra stripes. Cut the eggplants lengthways, and then slice about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel. On a baking tray, spread the eggplant slices, chopped onions and the colorful peppers. Drizzle 4 tbsp. the olive oil over them and season with salt and black pepper. Coat all the pieces with olive oil and seasoning. Bake in the preheated oven for about for about 35 minutes, until they are chargrilled around the edges.
  6. To bake the Simit Kebabi, grease a baking tray and arrange the prepared kebab skewers side by side. Sprinkle 3 tbsp. water over them and place a (heat resistant) bowl of water at the bottom of the oven (this will keep the kebabs moist). Bake the kebabs for 35 – 40 minutes, turning them half way around.
  7. You can also grill the kebabs over a medium charcoal fire, turning frequently in the same direction. Or you can grill kebabs on hottest part of grill, turning as needed, until slightly charred and cooked through, for 12-15 minutes.
  8. To make garlicy yoghurt; crush a small garlic clove with salt and chop finely. Stir in to the yoghurt and combine well.
  9. Serve the Simit Kebab hot, along with the roasted vegetables, garlicy yoghurt and flat breads. You can wrap the kebab and roasted vegetables with a dollop of garlicy yoghurt, in Turkish flat breads or pita pockets too. Afiyet Olsun.

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13 Responses to Simit Kebabi; Ground Meat and Bulgur Kebabs, Gaziantep Style

  1. Peri's Spice Ladle September 29, 2015 at 3:16 am #

    Loved reading about the Zirh knife blade. I remember that chopped meat was preferred over ground meat in many Indian kebab too:) And delightful kebab recipe with garlic yogurt and char grilled veggies. XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren September 29, 2015 at 8:59 am #

      Thank you Peri, I could visualise again this similarity between our cuisines, considering your love of kebabs too; glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Best wishes, Ozlem xx

  2. Emrullah Gumustas September 29, 2015 at 4:17 am #

    Merhaba Özlem Hanım.
    Yazınızda Antebin Türkiyede gastronomi merkezi olarak yazmanızda teredüt içinde kaldım.
    Bu konuda Türkiye’nin ngastronomi merkezinin HATAY olduğunu hatırlatmak isterim. Tariki ve kültürel değerler içinde hatay Roma İmparatorluğuna yemek kültürünü öğretmiş iken, Antebin Halep ve şam kültüründen esinlenmesi başka bir görüş. Ama Hatay hem yemek çeşidi hemde çok dinli kültürel olgusu tam ve suistimal istemez. Bilginize, Teşekkürler ve selamlar.

    • Ozlem Warren September 29, 2015 at 8:49 am #

      Merhabalar, mesajiniz ve ilginiz icin cok tesekkur ederim; benimde koklerim Hatay’a uzaniyor ve Hatay mutfaginin, mutfak kulturunun bizim ailedeki yeri bambaska, size katiliyorum – Cok sevdigim Hatay mutfagindan da blogumda sik sik bahsediyorum -. Gaziantep mutfagi da cok ozel ve degerli – tum yoresel mutfaklarimiz icin ayni seyi dusunuyorum – ve bircok yemeksever icin onemli gastronomi merkezlerinden biri – bunu yazimda bu sekilde de revize ettim – . Hatay’in cok dinli kulturel olgusu ozellikle cok ozel bizler icin ve hep bu sekilde kalmasini temenni ediyorum. Yeniden tesekkurler ilginize, Selamlar, Saygilar, Ozlem

  3. Turkey's For Life September 29, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    Wow, look at the size of that blade in the photo. Impressive! 🙂 Love ground meat as kebabs and have never heard of this one before, Özlem, so will keep an eye out for it and maybe even give it a go making our own. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren September 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

      Thank you for stopping by Julia, glad you enjoyed the Simit kebabi post – one to keep an eye on : ) And easy to make at home too, if you fancy sometime; many thanks for your kind shares too : ) Cok selamlar, Ozlem x

  4. seniordogsabroad September 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Özlem’ciğim, What an incredible yummy-sounding recipe! And it’s a new one for me, too. I have to confess that we’re not fat-free or even low-fat people. I figure if you’re going to have meat (and we only have it once or twice a week), it had better be tasty. So that means fat. We will definitely try this one, thanks. Ailene bizden selamlar ve sevgilerimizi söyle, öpüyoruz. xoxo J

    • Ozlem Warren September 29, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

      Merhaba sevgili Jolee’cigim, I am with you. We do love meat once in a while too, and don’t do low fat; everything in moderation and as natural as possible is the motto. I do hope you enjoy this one, and you can get zirh kiyma at home too, so jealous!!:) Afiyet olsun, selam ve sevgilerimle, Ozlem xxx

  5. Phil in the Kitchen September 29, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    I’m very impressed by the use of that knife. Meat chopped by hand does have a very different and very much better texture to any minced or processed meat, but using a blade such as the one in your picture would need a fair bit of experience I’d say. Lovely kebab – you always succeed in making me hungry.

    • Ozlem Warren September 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

      Indeed Phil, that blade makes a massive difference in the taste and texture of kebabs, you are right. Glad you enjoyed the post, best wishes, Ozlem

  6. sevdiğim çorbalar October 1, 2015 at 5:05 am #

    Merhabalar, ellerinize sağlık çok leziz görünüyor.


    • Ozlem Warren October 5, 2015 at 10:26 am #

      Merhabalar, cok tesekkurler notunuz icin; bizimde keyifle yapip paylastigimiz bir tarif oldu, Simit kebabi; Selamlar, sevgiler, Ozlem


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