Sunday, 1 December 2013

Adana Kebab

It goes without saying that if you're in Turkey brace yourself for the most amazing assortment of kebabs you just can't have enough of . And while in Istanbul, it was my sworn agenda to try as many different kinds as I could. For months, before the trip, I had dreamed about, drooled over and craved those morsels of deliciousness and how.

Once in Istanbul, I wasted no time.

So, there was the Iskender Kebab, a heap of sliced grilled lamb, doused in a subtly flavoured tomato sauce, served with generous dollops of fresh curd. And some restaurants serve a side of potato wedges too! I had my share of the Iskender Kebab at The Pudding Shop, off Sultanahmet Square. The lamb melted in my mouth laced with the flavours of the tomato sauce. And the spoon of thick, creamy yogurt that followed was oh-so soothing on the palate. This was my kind of goodness.

But I was too full to finish the dish and at the end I got to simply fishing the lamb pieces out of the sauce only to be admonished by one of the managers of the restaurant, who told me how I was missing out on the best part of the dish. Which is? Cleaning out the tomato sauce, infused with the juiced from the meat, with some bread. "Scoop it up, scoop it up," he hollered, (yes hollered). I did just that at the risk of an exploded tummy.

Again, though it might sound odd but the best meatballs I have had during my stay in Istanbul were at the Sultanahmet FISH House. So, you have the usual meatballs, KOFTE, served in a light gravy and then you have the grilled ones, soft and smokey, served with a buttery pilaf loaded with pine nuts and an enormous portion of chips — my favourite. I have had grilled kofte in  at least five places during my four days in Istanbul and the most flavourful were the once in Sultanahmet Fish House. And the owner (or manager, I am not sure) Oktay bey turned out to be quite a man, hospitable and helpful.

Then there was the ubiquitous doner, and yes the icli kofte, which I didn't get to taste until the last day and only by chance, just when I had given up on finding it. But that's another story. But one kebab that was a surprise for me, I hadn't heard or read about it before going to Turkey, was the spicy Adana Kebab.

We tasted the Adana Kebab at the Buhara Kebab Restaurant, Sultanahmet. The restaurant was in the same building as the hotel we were staying in and during the first three days of my stay I had completely ignored it. Mostly because we assumed it was not worth a gander and definitely not one of the legendary kebab places we were on the look out for. In fact, I hadn't even noticed the name. But it happened that my brother (also my travel companion) made friends with the guys at the restaurant over an iPhone charger and he insisted we dine at the restaurant on the day we were leaving Istanbul for Cappadocia. I agreed reluctantly only to find out that this place was in fact rated No 1 Kebab Place on Trip Advisor. I had read about it too, just that the name had slipped my mind. And there it had been...all this time.

It was a a great experience made even better by the staff. The young guys who man the restaurant are extremely friendly and add a special note to your dining experience. And I was smitten by the Adana Kebab. The Adana Kebab originated in Adana, one of Turkey's famous Kebab towns, the other being Urfa.  It is spicier than most of the other kebabs we tried and we loved it. The recipe I am sharing is not from any one place, it has bits and pieces from different sources, including little tips from my friends in Istanbul.  It turned out great. I made mini versions though, the real thing it longer.


Lamb minced - 1.5 kg
Onions (minced) - 1 cup
Red Bell pepper (minced) - 1 large 
Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Ginger  paste- 2 tbsp
Curd - 150 g 
Finely chopped parsley - 3/4 cup
Finely chopped coriander leaves - 1/4 cup (optional)

Sumac - 11/2 tbsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 tbsp
Red chili flakes - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil 1/2 cup


Marinate the meat overnight with all the other ingredients and refrigerate.

Make croquet shaped kebabs with the spiced mix or use skewers and grill it on a griddle or slip it into a preheated over (220 degree centigrade) for about 15-20 minutes or until kebabs are soft and succulent. Serve it with a side of buttered rice or Turkish pilaf (recipe posted earlier) and some salad.

PS: You can order for sumac online if you do not get it in your town/city. 

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