İskender Kebab

İskender kebap (Alexander Kebab) is one of the most famous meat dishes of North-western Turkey and takes its name from the man who created it, İskender Efendi, who lived in Bursa in the late 19th century.

It is a type of döner kebab consisting of thinly sliced grilled lamb and basted with hot tomato sauce over chunks of pitta bread or pide. It is served with a generous portion of yoghurt and grilled tomatoes and green peppers. Extra Tomato sauce and melted butter are sometimes poured over the dish when it is served to the table.

“Kebapçı İskender” is trademarked by the İskenderoğlu family, who still run their restaurant today in their hometown of Bursa.

As İskender Kebab is made using döner kebab, which requires a vertical rotisserie, it can be a little different to make this dish at home! But, you can recreate something similar using using thin slices of rib eye steak, lamb or beef tenderloin. The meat needs to be marinated in onion, olive oil and spices and making the effort to tenderize the meat first will add to the flavour.

Here is a recipe I found online at Ozlem’s Turkish Table:

Ingredients:

For the meat marinade:

  • 2 lbs. rib eye steak or lamb or beef tenderloin
  • 2 large onions, grated
  • 45 ml / 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:

  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. red pepper paste (optional; you can use extra 1 tbsp. tomato paste and red pepper flakes to your taste instead too)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 16 fl oz. / 2 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 green pointy or bell peppers, deseeded and sliced
  • Thinly sliced pide ekmek or plain pita bread – 6 pieces, to serve
    500 gr / 2 cups plain yoghurt to serve

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  • Prepare the meat marinade a day ahead of time of cooking.
  • Grate the onions or place them in a food processor and process until liquid. Squeeze all the onion juice into a non-metallic bowl and discard any remaining onion pulp.
  • Slice the meat thinly (you can ask your butcher to this for you too) and then pound each slice with the back of a wooden spoon (or with a meat tenderizer). We aim to achieve the slices about 5 cm (2”) x 4 cm (1.5”) in size.
  • Combine the onion juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the meat slices and coat each piece with the marinade. Cover the bowl with a cling film and marinate overnight in the fridge.
  • To make the tomato sauce, pour in the olive oil in a sauce pan over the medium heat. Stir in the tomato paste, red pepper paste (if using) and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and combine well. Add the water then bring to the boil. Then gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the pide or pitta bread in 3 cm x 3 cm (about 1”) squares and place on a tray. Warm in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Drizzle a little olive oil on a skillet and cook the meat slices on high heat; for about 2 minutes each side (take care not to overcook). Also sauté the sliced tomatoes and peppers at the other side of the skillet, until they start to charcoal at edges.
  • Once everything is cooked, plate your Iskender Kebap. Place the warm pide/ pitta bread slices on each plate. Spread the cooked slices of the meat over the bread and pour over the tomato sauce. Place the sautéed tomatoes and peppers at one side and a dollop of plain yoghurt at the other side. Serve immediately. This recipe serves 4 -6 generously.

Afiyet Olsun!

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