TURKISH LAMB KEBABS (for six as a main course)

Kebabs, Turkish lamb kebabs 1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 “Turks say that this way of cooking meat was created during the conquering era of the Ottoman Empire, when Turkish soldiers, forced to camp out in tents for months on end, discovered the pleasures of eating meat grilled out of doors on wood fires…. In Greece and Turkey, alternating pieces of onion, tomato and bell pepper are sometimes threaded between the cubes of meat.  This is not a good idea because the meat and vegetables take different times to cook and the meat becomes wet and does not get properly seared.” Claudia Roden 

2 pounds boned leg of lamb

2 large onions, liquidized in the food processor

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


  1. Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes. Prepare a marinade by mixing the onion juice with the oil, salt and pepper and soak the meat in it for at least 1 hour (Iranians and Turks marinate overnight), keeping it covered in the refrigerator and turning the pieces over at least once.
  1. Thread the pieces of meat onto 6 skewers, preferably the flat, wide type, so that the meat doesn’t slide.
  1. Grill over charcoal or wood embers, making sure that the fire has stopped smoking. Place the skewers 3 inches from the fire on a well oiled grill.  Or broil under a preheated gas or electric broiler.  Cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning over once, until the meat is well browned on the outside but still pink and juicy inside.
  1. Serve the kebabs on top of a thin Arab flatbread over sprigs of flat-leaf parsley or chervil, or inside pita bread topped with a salad of finely chopped raw tomato, cucumber and onion with herbs. Alternatively, place skewers on a bed of rice or bulgar.

 NOTE:  For a Greek marinade, blend in the food processor 2 onions, 2 tomatoes, 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons dried rigani (wild marjoram), salt and pepper.  A nineteenth century Turkish recipe called for a marinade of 2/3 cup olive oil, 2 onions, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, salt and pepper, all blended to a cream.  Another Turkish marinade blends 1-1/4 cups yogurt, 1 onion, salt and pepper.

from Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

Leave a Reply