On my first trip to Istanbul, I was taken to a kebabçi or a restaurant that serves mainly kebabs. I was mesmerized by the variety of kebabs, made from beef, lamb, mutton and chicken, the variety and flavours seemed almost infinite. They were wolfed down with down with small plates of Turkish vegetarian meze, loads of salad and even more raki.
Simit kebabs were on the menu and they are one of the essential kebabs in Turkey. Originally hailing from the Gaziantep region, these kebabs have become popular all over Turkey and beyond. They are unique as they are loaded with ground pistachios giving the kebabs a wonderful nutty flavour. The bulghur makes them moist and the mild spices are perfect. I tend to add some additional whole pistachios to the kebabs for texture,
This is an amazing cookbook by a British chef who specialized in cuisines from the Middle East and across Turkey. This book is filled with recipes for kebabs, stews and other Turkish favourites, as well as, some more contemporary dishes. Everything I have cooked from this book has been fantastic, this is one of my favourite Turkish cookbooks.
For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, + 2 tablespoons for the mince + 1 tablespoon for garnish
A handful parsley
A handful mint
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 lb ground lamb or mutton
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
2 tablespoons bulghur
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the dressing:
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tablespoons pistachios
Salt, to taste
Lightly toast the pistachios till they are aromatic. Cool.
Add the pistachios, parsley, mint, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to a small blender and blitz till you have a smooth paste.
Cook the bulghur in hot water as described on the package, usually adding hot water in the ratio of 1 portion bulghur to 1 1/2 portions water. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Mix the meat with the pistachio paste, the whole pistachios, the Aleppo pepper and cooked bulgur. Take a small teaspoon-sized portion and flatten to a small patty and fry on a pan. taste and adjust salt and spice. You should get a very deep flavour of the pistachios in the kebab.
Let marinate for at least 1 hour, but I prefer to make the kebab mix in the morning and grill the kebabs in the evening for dinner.
Make the dressing by pounding the pistachios in a mortar till you have a rough paste. Combine with the yoghurt and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Store in the fridge.
Divide the mix into 8-10 portions and roll them into sausage shapes. Grill the kebabs on a grill for about 3-4 minutes a side till cooked through and slightly charred. Alternatively, you can broil the kebabs in the oven for 15-20 minutes a side till charred. Serve with the dressing.