Pit Kebab means Kuyu Kebabı in Turkish and it is simply the best lamb Kebab dish in Turkish cuisine. It is called Pit Kebab because it is literally cooked in special pit ovens. This dish’s cooking method lets the lamb meat fall apart from the bone with a little touch and it melts in your mouth like butter.
Kuyu Kebabı word reflects the cooking technique of cooking action in a specially designed pit. These pit ovens are usually used for cooking meat and bread. This cooking technique has known by other names too, such as Fırın Kebabı (Oven Kebab), Tandır Kebab, and Büryan. I shared the below photos to show you what pit ovens look like.
The Story of Pit Kebab
Throughout history, the Turks were expertise in many different fields and cooking is one of them. Most of today’s Turkish cooking techniques are inherited from our Turkic ancestors. Using pit ovens for cooking meat & bread is an ancient cooking technique for Turks since the Great Seljuk Empire period (1037 – 1157 AC).
During the Great Seljuk Empire period, Konya city was the capital city of the empire. And it is why Pit Kebab and the cooking technique are mostly identified with Konya city. It is also a very common cooking technique in other cities of Turkey too, especially in Central Anatolia Region cities.
Where to eat Pit Kebab?
If you visit Turkey and come to Konya city to see Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi and Great Seljuk Empire museums, don’t skip the lunch because listening to history from a tour guide will make you hungry. So, ask someone to show you the best Pit Kebab or Fırın Kebab restaurant around. Locals always know where to eat. Miss the flight, but never miss this Kebab.
If you ask me, I would suggest you try this restaurant. Whenever I go to Konya city, I prefer to go to this restaurant to eat Pit Kebab. The restaurant’s name called Kuzucu Ali.
Pit Kebab can be also made in regular kitchen ovens by using a metal baking tray and it takes only minutes to prepare, however; the cooking stage takes too long. One lamb leg cooks for nearly three hours. Make sure you’re around to turn the meat frequently until all the parts of the meat cook evenly and do not fall asleep while you are waiting.
- 1 Leg of lamb
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive pil
- 1/2 juice of lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup water
When you are buying leg of lamb, ask the butcher to clean off excess fat as much as he can. And ask him to divide the leg in to three pieces (by keeping the bones).
Preheat your oven to 140 C and then place lam leg pieces to the shallow, metal roasting tray.
In a bowl, pour the olive oil, lemon juice and other ingredients and mix them. Then pour the mix over the lamb pieces evenly by massaging the meat for 5 minutes.
Let the lamb pieces cook slowly for about 90 minutes (1 1/2 hours). During this time, you will see that lamb meat release its fat and juices and then it reabsorbs it. After first 30 minutes, turn the lamb pieces and repeat this 2 more time at every 30 minutes.
After 90 minutes, pour the 1/2 cup of water over the lamb meat and then close the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Then turn up the oven heat to 190 C.
After one hour, remove the pan from your oven and let the meat rest about 3 minutes. After it rest, remove the foil from roasting pan and remove all the meat from the bones.
Your ‘Pit Kebab’ is ready to serve. Enjoy the taste.
Tip: You can serve it with Pilaf & thyme aside.