Print this page

Grilled Meats

"Kebab" is another category of food which, like the börek, is typically Turkish dating back to the times when the nomadic Turks learned to grill and roast their meat over their camp fires.

Given the numerous types of kebabs, it helps to realize that you categorize them by the way the meat is cooked. The Western World knows the "sis kebab" and the "döner" introduced to them mostly by Greek entrepreneurs. Sis kebab is grilled cubes of skewered meat. Döner kebab is made by stacking alternating layers of ground meat and sliced leg of lamb on a large upright skewer, which is slowly rotated in front of a vertical grills. As the outer layer of the meat is roasted, thin slices are shaved to be served.

There are numerous other grilled kebabs beside those cooked in a clay oven. It should be noted that the unique taste of kebabs are due more to the breeds of sheep and cattle, which are raised in open pastures by loving shepherds, than to special marinades and a way of cooking. Therefore, you should stop at a kebab restaurant in Turkey to taste the authentic item. "Kebabci" is by far the most common and the least expensive type of restaurant, ranging from a hole in the wall to large and lavish establishments. Kebab is the traditional Turkish response to fast food that is at the same time not especially bad for you. A generic kebabci will have "lahmacun" (meat pide) and "Adana" (spicy scewered ground meat, named after the southern city where it was born), salad greens with red onions and baklava to top it all off. Beyond that the menu will tell you the specialty of the kebabci. The best plan is to seek out the well-known ones and to try the less spicy types if you are not used to kebab. Once you develop a taste for it, you can have inexpensive feasts by going to the neighborhood kebabci anywhere in Ankara or Istanbul.

"Izgara"- mixed grilled meat, it is how main course meat dishes are prepared at a meat restaurant. Mixed grills are likely to include lamb chops, " köfte," or "sis" (select cubes of meat). The way of preparing ground meat will be the "köfte." These are grilled, fried, oven-cooked or boiled, after being mixed with special spices, eggs, and grated onions and carefully shaped into balls, oblongs, round or long patties. Another popular dish, inspired by the nomadic Turks who carried spiced, raw meat in their saddles, and known to Europeans as "steak Tartar," is the raw köfte. Here, it is made of raw double ground meat, by kneading it with thin bulgur and hot spices vigorously for a few hours. Then bite-sized patties are made, and served with chilantro, known for its stomach-protecting qualities.

Some restaurants specialize only in grilled meats, in which case they are called meat restaurants. The fare will be a constant stream of grilled meats served hot in portions off the grill, until you tell the waiter that you are full.

Next > Vegetables