TURKEY Adana kebab


Adana kebab

Spicy lamb kebabs packed full of heat and flavour –and the essential unctuous tail fat – have long been popular across southeastern Anatolia, Syria and Iraq. But only in the Turkish city of Adana has the dish blending Turkish and Arab culinary influences been patented. Locals are so serious about it that sidewalk traders and more formal restaurants selling the dish are even subject to random inspections by the Adana Chamber of Commerce.


You’ll need

500g (1lb) ground lamb
500g (1lb) ground veal
1 red pepper, seeded and
1 yellow onion, peeled and
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and
2 tsp red chilli flakes
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp black pepper
3 tsp salt
2 red onions, peeled
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup (250mL) yoghurt
8 pieces of pita bread
4 tsp olive oil
Handful of parsley leaves

Cooking Method

1 Mix the lamb and veal together in a large bowl, then stir in the red pepper, yellow onion and one clove of garlic.

2 Stir in the chilli flakes, coriander, cumin, pepper and two teaspoons of the salt, then cover and leave in the refrigerator, ideally overnight, but at least for a few hours.

3 Slice the red onions thinly, mix in the sumac and half the lemon juice; refrigerate overnight.

4 Mix the yoghurt with the remaining lemon juice, garlic and a teaspoon of salt, to create a sauce.

5 When it’s time to cook, shape the meat mixture into cylinders around kebab skewers.

Your cylinders should measure about 15cm x 6cm (6in x 2in).

6 Place on a hot grill and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side. When the kebabs are ready, they should be slightly spongy to the touch.

7 Baste the pita bread with olive oil and place on the grill to warm through.

8 Place the kebab in the warm pita bread, add the sliced onions with sumac to the parsley, and garnish with the yoghurt sauce. If you like, serve with chargrilled tomatoes and red peppers.

Tasting notes

All your senses are aroused as you wend through the busy labyrinth of Adana’s old town to dine on the city’s signature dish. The call to prayer drifts from mosques and fragrant aromas waft from simple eateries concealed deep within the city’s bazaar. Take a window seat with views of the compelling chaos outside and request bir porsiyon (one portion). Adana kebab is not a dish to be rushed and don’t go making plans for dinner. Tear off some gossamer-thin bread, place some of the smoky, chargrilled lamb inside, and then stuff full of the zesty salad of parsley, onion and sumac. Repeat leisurely until you’re satisfied; request a side order of grilled red peppers for an additional fiery hit.

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