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Tag Archives | mezzes

Lamb Kebabs with Pistachios on Flat Bread, served with Roasted Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes – Create Delicious Kebabs in Your Home!

Image from Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, by Sian Irvine Food Photography

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:

An Ocakbasi kebab house in Istanbul, where the ustas, masters prepare succulent kebabs in front of you.

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!

Piyaz salad of onions, tomatoes with sumac, hummus with pastrami are amongst the delicious mezzes await you at the kebab houses.

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!

Lahmacun ustas at work; wonderful to watch, delicious to eat the end result.

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.

Scrumptious Iskender Kebab – who can resist?

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?

Vakkas usta cutting the meat fresh with Zirh knife for the kebabs; photo credit IstanbulEats.com

 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.

Lamb kebabs with pistachios; easy to recreate in your home, delicious and impressive.

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.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 Serves 4

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

Peppers, onions and tomatoes, ready to go in the oven.

 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.

Pistachios add a rich, nutty taste to the lamb kebabs.

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.

Roasted vegetables ready to complement the kebabs – make sure to save the juices to drizzle over the flat bread.

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.

Place the sliced flat bread on a tray under the kebabs, when they are half way cooked.

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.

Lamb kebabs with pistachios and roasted vegetables, ready to enjoy.

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.

 Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Gavurdagi Salad of ripe tomatoes, onion, parsley and walnuts

Lovingly grown ripe, juicy tomatoes at their peak in August in Turkey

Lovingly grown, juicy, ripe tomatoes have been at their peak while we were in Turkey in August. These firm, sweet tomatoes have been so packed with flavor that you can just enjoy them alone,  without any accompaniment.

Gavurdagi Salad of ripe tomatoes, onions, walnuts and pomegranate molasses; so delicious and healthy

Gavurdagi Salad of ripe tomatoes, onions, walnuts and pomegranate molasses; so delicious and healthy

But there is one tomato salad that you often come across wherever you are in Turkey; Gavurdagi Salad. Named after the Gavur mountain, part of Tarsus mountains in Southeast part of Turkey, this delicious salad is from the Gaziantep region, where many wonderfully delicious and spicy Turkish dishes come from. I love the marriage of sweet and juicy tomatoes with the crunchy walnuts in this salad; the sweet and sour pomegranate molasses dressing really complements this salad too. Here’s my homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi recipe, if you would like to make your own. If you can’t get pomegranate molasses or have time to make it, try the salad with a good balsamic vinegar, it still works well.

Freshly baked Turkish pide (flat bread) is wonderful to accompany the Gavur Salad

Gavurdagi salad is an important part of the meze spread at kebab houses in Turkey, served with the delicious Turkish pide bread, butter and the crumbly Turkish white cheese.  You can also enjoy this  delicious and easy salad for lunch with your favorite cheese and bread by the side. We also love this salad as an accompaniment of pasta dishes like our favorite Shrimp pasta with red pepper flakes infused olive oil, highly recommended!

Crumbly Turkish cheese, tulumba peynir, butter, vegetables cooked in olive oil are important parts of the mezze spread

Serves 2                               Preparation time: 15 minutes

3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

¼ onion, finely chopped

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

50gr/2oz/1/3 cup walnuts, crushed – about pea size each –

15ml/1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

30ml/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes

5ml/1 tsp sumac – optional-

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Spices are an important part of the Turkish cuisine; tangy sumac and spicy red pepper flakes add wonderful flavor to Gavurdagi Salad.

In a large bowl, rub the chopped onions with the spices and seasoning; salt, sumac, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper – that will soften the onion and enable the spices to blend in well.

Ripe tomatoes, parsley, onion and walnuts; not only delicious but very healthy too.

 Add the tomatoes, parsley and walnuts to the onions. Then stir in the pomegranate molasses and the extra virgin olive oil and give them a good (but gentle) mix.

I hope you can have a go on this delicious, refreshing salad; it also has a wonderful juice, so make sure to spoon it or dip your bread in!

Afiyet Olsun!

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