İskender Kebab is the king of Turkish Kebabs. If you’re a meat lover, you already know that Turkish cuisine is the home of grilled meats and kebab dishes. Iskender Kebab is one of the most popular meat dishes in Turkish cuisine and it is also very popular around the globe too. İskender Kebab is the way of serving vertically roasted lamb meat slices, known as Döner Kebab, on a thin crust Pide bread with tomato sauce, melted sheep butter, and yogurt.
Gastronomy statistics show that there are more than 50.000 Döner Kebab shops around the globe. According to the article at mirror.co.uk, there are more than 20.000 Kebab shops in the United Kingdom.
In general, if a restaurant offers Döner Kebab on its menu, there is a big chance to find İskender Kebab on that menu also. I am telling you this because Döner Kebab is the keystone of Iskender Kebab and I don’t want you to skip this delicious taste when you stop by a Döner Kebab restaurant next time.
The Story of İskender Kebab
The story of Döner Kebab starts at the İskender Efendi (Mr. İskender in English) butcher shop in Bursa city of Turkey in 1867. At that time, the lamb was cooked on a wood fire as a whole; however, with this cooking method, the delicious pieces of lamb meat were not distributed equally to everyone.
First, he separates the lamb meat from its nerves and bones. Then he stacks the meat with layers on a vertical stick and he locates that stick with a perpendicular angle to the grill that he designed. This new way of cooking method becomes so famous and it spreads all around Turkey very rapidly.
Where to eat İskender Kebab?
You can find countless İskender Kebab restaurants, where ever you go in Turkey; however, if you have a chance to visit Bursa city, I suggest you visit the birthplace of Iskender Kebab at İskender Efendi Konağı EST. 1867 restaurant.
How to make İskender Kebab at Home?
You can make this classic Turkish kebab recipe at home as close as to its original taste if you have a special vertical rotisserie grill; however, I believe 99.9% of you don’t have such a special grill to make İskender Kebab. For this reason, I will give you the 100% non-vertical rotisserie grill needed İskender Kebab recipe below.
While you are getting excited to know how it is made, you can watch the below video that I have found for you. I think it will be a great icebreaker between you and İskender Kebab.
For the Meat Marinate
- 1 kg Lamb or Rib eye steak
- 2 onions grated
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the Sauce
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp melted sizzling butter for topping
- 4 pide bread (pita bread) or cube bread square cut by 2 cm x 2 cm
- 2 cups plain yogurt
Preheat the oven 180 C (350 F).
Preparing the meat marination a day ahead of time of cooking
Slice the meat thinly and then pound each slice with the flat meat tenderizer. The aim is to make the meat slice about 6 cm x 5 cm in size.
Mix the grated onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, olive oil, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the meat slices and coat each piece with this mix and then cover the bowl and marinate overnight in the fridge.
Put 2 tablespoon of olive oil into saucepan and then add the tomato paste, salt and black pepper and combine them well. Add the water then bring the sauce to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Preparing the Pide Bread / Cube Bread.
Slice the pide bread or cube bread into 2 cm x 2 cm squares and place them into the oven tray and then warm them in the oven for 5 minutes.
Making the İskender Kebab
Pour olive oil to the skillet and cook the marinated meat slices on high heat; for about 3 minutes each side. While the meats are cooking, add a big knob of butter to the skillet to make topping. Fry the butter until sizzling.
Place the warm square cut Pide Bread / Cube Bread pieces to the plates evenly.
After the meats cooked; place the meats on top of the warm Pide Bread / Cube Bread pieces evenly and then pour over the tomato sauce.
Right after you pour tomato sauce, pour the sizzling butter over the top of the tomato sauce.
Serve immediately with plain yogurt.