Ali Nazik is one of the most famous Kebab varieties of Gaziantep city. It is made with smoked eggplant, garlicky yogurt, skewered ground beef, and/or cubed lamb meat. This delicious combination is generally served with pilaf and/or lavash aside.
As I mentioned in my previous posts, Gaziantep city is the most exciting city in Turkey with its food spectrum. The city is on the UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy list. So, it is not surprising that this delicious Kebab variety is native to Gaziantep city.
The Story of Ali Nazik Kebab
There are two local stories about where this delicious kebab name came from in Gaziantep. The first one dates back to the 16th Century of the Ottoman Empire period. Yavuz Sultan Selim (the ruling period between 1512-1520) pays a visit to Antep (today’s Gaziantep city). During his trip, he asks his vizier about the local dishes, and his vizier orders the best dishes from the locals. After Yavuz Sultan Selim finishes his meal, he asks “who’s ‘gentle hand’ (-Eli Nazik- in Turkish) made this?”. Later, this Eli Nazik word turns to Ali Nazik
According to the second story; in the Ottoman Turkish language Ala word means beautiful and Nazik word means food. In time, the Ala word turned to Ali and became Ali Nazik. In today’s modern Turkish language, nazik word means polite. So, once you combine these two words, it becomes Ali the Polite in English. It may not mean any sense to you but I just want to share with you the etymology of Ali Nazik word.
Where to eat Ali Nazik Kebab in Gaziantep?
If you go to Gaziantep city, you will see that there are two variations of Ali Nazik Kebab. One is made with ground beef and the other one is made with cubed lamb meat. In Gaziantep city, some restaurants are offering both variations either separately or combined. So, it is up to you which to prefer, but I definitely suggest you taste both versions.
When it comes to Ali Nazik Kebab, Imam Çağdaş and Aşina restaurants are the two most famous restaurants in Gaziantep city. Both restaurants are offering two versions of Ali Nazik Kebab. So if you are going to stay more than 2 to 3 days, I suggest you stop by both restaurants to taste different kebab varieties besides the Ali Nazik Kebab also.
Eggplant & Yogurt Puree
- 4 medium size purple eggplants
- 2 cup plain or strained yogurt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Lamb Meat Topping
- 500 gr chunks of lamb meat
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp red pepper paste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven or grill to 400°F (200°C).
Wash and dry the eggplants. Pierce it a few times with a fork to vent during roasting. (It is very important to vent the eggplants during roasting.)
Place washed and dried eggplants on a nonstick roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes in the preheated oven or grill.
Chop the lamb meat into small and bite-sized cubes. In a cast iron pan, melt the butter and add the lamb cubes and sauté with finely chopped onion until tender.
Once the lamb meat is tender; add the olive oil, tomato paste, pepper paste, salt, pepper flakes and 5 tbsp of water. Close the pan lid and let the lamb meat simmer gently at low heat for additional 5 minutes.
During this time your eggplants should be already roasted. Remove the roasted eggplants from the oven and/or grill and peel their burnt skin.
After you peel the roasted eggplants, chop them very well on a plate and set aside.
In a bowl, combine yogurt, salt, ground black pepper and olive oil. Add the chopped eggplants and combine the mix very well. This mix (puree) will be the base layer of your Ali Nazik Kebab.
Spoon the cooked meat cubes over the top of this puree and drizzle the juice, which remain in the pan, over the cooked meat cubes.