The history of kebabs goes back a long way, and there are far too many different kebabs around the world and even in Turkey to list them all so I have chosen a few of the most popular.
While in countries such as England we know the kebab to be pieces of meat usually lamb or chicken cooked on a skewer then eaten in a slice of pitta bread. The Turks, however, use the word kebab to mean a variety of ways in which the meat is cooked including skewers, stews and meatballs etc.
A shish kebab is small cubes of meat, usually, lamb beef or chicken that are cooked on a skewer then usually served with salad. This type of kebab is thought to have come from the medieval soldiers who cooked their meet this way on open fires.
Every kebab maker ( called a kebapci ) in Turkey will usually have this on their menu. The Adana Kebabi is made of fine minced lamb with a little lamb fat added. It’s mixed with salt and red pepper flakes and then moulded around a large flat skewer and cooked over charcoals. It does tend to be on the spicy side and is served with salad or grilled tomatoes and peppers and some flatbread too to mop up the juices.
This kebab is argued to be one of the first Turkish kebabs. Its slithers of fatty lamb, mutton or goat meat that are marinated for 24 hours in salt, black pepper and onion. It all placed on a large skewer that is rotated horizontally over a fire. Usually served wrapped in flatbread with salad or grilled vegetables. It is thought to have originated in the Erzurum Province.
Doner kebab is quite similar to the cag kebab above. Its lamb that is seasoned and then stacked on a vertical spit and rotated around heat for the outside to cook. It is then sliced or shaved off small pieces that are then served in a flatbread with added extra salad or on a plate with chips ( fries ). In the Middle East, the same kebab is called a Schwarma and the Greek Gyros also are similar. This kebab originated in Bursa.
The Iskender kebap also known as the Bursa Kebap. The vertical rotating spit was thought to be the idea of Mehmetoglu Iskender Effendi, a Bursa city butcher from the 19th Century. So the meat in this dish is actually the doner meat as described above. The difference is how it is served. It can either be served on Pide ( a Turkish dense bread ) or on a plate as a main meal. A sauce is made from tomatoes and melted butter, poured over the Pide and doner meat then drizzled again with more melted butter and also just to make it sound a little healthier a dollop of yoghurt too.
There are hundreds of different versions of kebab but these are the most popular in Turkey. Its something you really must try authentically when in Turkey.
Written by : Rachel Labidi
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