Iskender Kebab are a staple in many of Stoke Newington's numerous Turkish Mangal (BBQ) and Ocakbasi (Open Grill) restaurants. The delightful smell of grilled meats has made me drool even when walking to pray at the famous Aziziye Mosque. (Most challenging during our summer fasts). The fact that this place of worship has a Mangal restaurant and a butcher tells you about the culinary link that Turkey has with food! Istanbul was and still is the spice capital of the world!! It's where Europe meets Asia and where foodies rejoice at the fusion of Central Asian, Greek, Balkan, Middle Eastern and Caucasian Cuisine. Iskender Kebab originated from the first Ottoman capital, Bursa. It is traditionally made with thinly sliced doner meat, topped with tomato sauce over pieces of fat laden grilled Turkish bread. The dish is finished off with thick Turkish yogurt and melted butter! However, you can also make Iskender Kebabs with Adana (Kofte) kebabs.
- 1 Charcoal BBQ but you can cook on gas too! Or if all else fails, under the grill.
- 1 kg Lamb Mince 80:20 Blend You can use Beef mince too. DO NOT WASH the mince
- 15 g Salt 1.5% of meat
- 1 whole Red Pepper Finely diced
- 4 tbsp Urfa Pepper This is also known as Isot (It's smoky dried red chilli flakes)
- 4 tsbp Sumac
- 2 tbsp Cumin Powder
- 1 cup Parsley Leaves Finely diced
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 500 g Passata
- 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Chilli Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Minced
- 1 cup Water
- Salt and Pepper To taste
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 4 Turkish Chillis The long green type
- 1 Thin Turkish Pide
- 2 medium Tomatoes Cut in half
- Turkish/Greek Yogurt (10% fat)
- 100 g Butter
- Iskender Kebab originated from the City of Bursa. It's usually made with doner, but you can make it with Adana Kofte.
- It's important you use a 80:20 blend of meat to fat.
- Do not wash the mince! Otherwise your kebabs won't stick.
- Chop the red pepper and the parsley into a fine paste. Then add the pepper/parsley mixture to the meat.
- Add the salt (1.5%).
- Add the Urfa Pepper (Isot) and the Sumac.
- Urfa Pepper (Isot) is dried, smoky chilli flakes from the Urfa region (East Turkey, close to the Syrian border).
- Thoroughly mix all the ingredients until the kebab mix sticks to your hand.
- The mixture should become sticky and the fat will coat the side of the mixing bowl. It should take around 5-10 minutes (Depending on your fat content and the speed of your mixing!)Keep the mixture refrigerated until you’re ready to cook the kebabs.
Grilling the Kebabs
- Load the skewers by placing a large ball of kebab mixture down onto a flat skewer, squeeze the mixture down the skewer until you get an even, thin layer across the skewer. The skewer should not be visible through the meat. Also load the tomatoes and Turkish green chillis onto skewers ready to be grilled.
- Place the kebabs over smouldering charcoal. Adjust the heat by either lowering your charcoal bed, or spreading out the coals. Start to grill the tomatoes and Turkish green chillis.
- Turn every 15-30 seconds.
- The fat will start to vaporise when it drips onto the hot coals. This gives the kebab its distinctive smoky flavour.
- It's always a good idea to have a 'safe zone' where there are no coals. This helps when you have flare ups.
- Slow motion videography of the fat vaporising and flavouring the kebabs.
- When you see fat leaking from the top surface of the kebabs, wipe off excess fat by placing the kebab between the Turkish bread and dabbing down on the surface of the kebab.
- Place the kebabs inbetween the bread and slide the skewer clean out!
- Toast the fat laden bread over hot coals.
- Cut the kebabs into 5cm pieces.
- Also cut the toasted Turkish bread into 5cm pieces.
- Place the bread at the bottom of a cast iron skillet or oven tray, followed by a healthy amount of tomato sauce.
- Simmer the tomato sauce ingredients for 10mins; it should have the consistency of double cream. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to finish.
- After 5 minutes, add the Turkish/Greek yogurt. Start to heat your butter
- Finally, place the grilled Turkish green chillis and tomatoes around the sides.
- Drizzle foaming butter on top just before serving.
- Chalo Kawa
- Is the tomato flavour strong in this dish?
- How can you make the kebabs without a BBQ?
- Where can I find Urfa pepper?
- What type of meat should I ask about at the butchers?
- Where did you buy your skewers from?