10 Highest-Rated Turkish Meat Dishes
Çöp Şiş: Originating in Türkiye’s Aegean region, çöp şis is a kebab variety which can be literally translated as “trash shish” or “garbage shish.” Despite its unusual name, this delicious dish is made with roasted lamb scraps and fat, the leftovers from trimming the meat for the classic shish kebab.
The meat is traditionally flavored with garlic and tomatoes, marinated in a combination of olive oil, oregano, and black pepper, then placed on split wood skewers and quickly roasted. The unorthodox name “garbage shish” is believed to refer either to the small wooden skewers or the fact that the dish is made with scraps and leftovers.
This kebab variety is typically served as an appetizer before the main meal, preferably with spicy green peppers on the side.
Şiş Kebap: Shish is the most famous kebab variety consisting of pieces of meat on a skewer that is grilled over a fire. The dish originated with the nomadic tribes who used to marinate the meat in order to tenderize it and to get rid of the gamey flavors.
The marinades include any combination of lemon juice, olive oil, milk, yogurt, cinnamon, allspice, and various other spices. Authentic Turkish shish kebab is rarely prepared with vegetables on the same skewer, and it has been suggested by numerous food writers that grilling the vegetables and meat on a same skewer is a modern invention by Turkish restaurateurs to make the skewers look more visually appealing to customers.
Döner Kebap: Döner kebab is a delicacy that is known throughout the world, consisting of grilled pieces of meat that are shredded from a vertical skewer. The meat is typically seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. Originally, the meat used in döner was exclusively lamb, but today in İstanbul, there are kebabs prepared with a combination of lamb and beef, or sometimes only with beef.
Meat that is grilled vertically on a skewer isn't a new thing as it was mentioned in the 18th-century Ottoman travel books.
Adana Kebap: Adana kebap is a popular skewered meat dish named after one of the most famous kebab cities in the country, Adana. This kebab is made with ground lamb and tail fat that are kneaded together with garlic, onion, paprika, and hot red pepper flakes, giving it a deep red color and a spicy flavor.
The whole concoction is typically placed around large and flat metal skewers, then grilled. Once it's done, the grilled meat is traditionally served on a platter over flatbreads, peppers, and tomatoes, or stuffed into pita bread along with a salad consisting of parsley and red onions.
Before the pita is rolled, the meat is usually topped with roasted chilies, salt, cumin, and sumac. It is recommended to pair Adana kebap with ayran – a slightly salty, yogurt-based beverage - or şalgam, a non-alcoholic fermented beverage made from vegetables and red carrots.
İskender Kebap: A specialty of the city of Bursa, İskender kebap is named after a butcher called İskender Bey, who first prepared this flavorful dish. It consists of thinly sliced lamb that is grilled and combined with a spicy tomato sauce and pita bread, while melted sheep butter and yogurt are traditionally drizzled over the dish at the table.
It is recommended to pair this kebap with şıra, a Turkish beverage that is known to aid digestion.
Sarma: One of the staples of traditional Turkish cuisine, sarma consists of a filling that is snugly surrounded by leaves or leafy vegetables. There are numerous versions of this dish but the mixture typically combines ingredients such as minced meat, rice, or bulgur, various herbs, seasonings, red pepper, paprika, ground sumac, or tomato sauce, while the typical wrapping usually includes vine, cabbage, or pickled leaves, or a variety of leafy vegetables such as collard greens and swiss chard.
İzmir Köfte: İzmir köfte is a Turkish comfort food consisting of köfte (meatballs), peppers, and potatoes in a simple tomato sauce. The dish can either be prepared on a stove or baked in the oven. The köfte are typically made with ground beef or lamb, onions, flour, stale bread, and eggs, flavored with a variety of spices such as red pepper flakes, cumin, black pepper, and mint.
Before serving, İzmir köfte are traditionally garnished with chopped parsley. It is recommended to use plain rice or a slice of crusty bread as accompaniments.
Hünkar Beğendi: Hünkar beğendi is a traditional Turkish dish consisting of a flavorful lamb stew that is served on top of a creamy roasted eggplant purée. The purée is often thickened with milk and cheese, while the whole dish is sometimes topped with a tomato-based sauce or garnished with freshly chopped parsley.
It is believed that the dish is native to İstanbul and was first prepared for the wife of Napoleon III in the late 19th century.
Cağ Kebabı: Cağ kebabı is a kebab variety originating in the Turkish city of Erzurum. It is made with lamb that is marinated with onions, salt, and pepper for about 12 hours, and the meat is then placed on a big horizontal skewer and cooked over a wood fire.
The usta (a master of a trade) will take a long skewer and slice off tender and succulent pieces of lamb until the skewer is empty. The dish is traditionally consumed either straight from the skewer, or with the meat wrapped in warm, freshly baked lavaş flatbread.
What do you say about exploring some more ways of eating meat?
Yes, the varieties of kebabs are truly mesmerizing but there are even more ways to eat meat in Türkiye!
MANGAL, TURKISH BBQ
Food is serious business in Türkiye. Cooking and eating are close to the nation’s heart, and the cooking process, each and every step of cooking in a Turkish kitchen, is a tradition, a kind of therapeutic engagement. There is no denying that Türkiye is famous for its cuisine and in reality, Turkish cuisine defines its different regions, even cities. However, there is one thing in common and it has a special place in everybody's heart: mangal, the Turkish take on barbecue.
Mangal is a ritual in Türkiye. It is an excuse to get together with your loved ones around a table and engage in lovely conversations while eating the best-grilled food of your life. First of all, Turkish barbecue is often the star of picnics, whether it is a nice summer day or snowing, and when the coal starts to burn, everybody has a specific duty to fulfill if they want to be served.
Lighting up the fire and cooking the meat, whether it is beef, chicken, or fish, is traditionally the duty of the male members of a group. While certain male family members and friends keep the coals hot, the other men in the group usually keep an eye on the meat, making sure it remains succulent and is not overcooked. A barbeque might take longer than other cooking alternatives but, in the end, that is the whole point. While the barbecuer might sweat over the charcoal, it is a job that brings great pride. Why? Well, if the meat is cooked perfectly, the barbecuers get to take the credit!
The rest of the group is in charge of the whole "Operation Mangal." The mangal might be the star, but there is lots to do before sitting around the table and enjoying the grilled treats. While the fire is reaching the perfect temperature, the meat must be prepared. If the menu features a type of kebab, the participants have to knead the kebab to coax out the best flavor. If it is chicken, it has to be marinated in a special sauce of spices and tomato paste for the best results. Fish, however, is the trickiest one. If it is a big fish, it has to be cleaned, and if it is small, such as Black Sea anchovies known in Türkiye as hamsi, they have to be well marinated.
Turkish barbecue is not complete without a fresh, delicious salad. The most preferred salad to accompany the Turkish barbecue is called çoban (meaning "shepherd" in English), which is a combination of tomatoes, red peppers, and onions with plenty of virgin olive oil.
Drinks are also important. Whether it is şalgam (turnip drink) or ayran (yogurt thinned with water and with a pinch of salt), the glasses should never be empty. While soft drinks are sometimes preferred, tea is also an essential part of the Turkish barbecue. The tea is even brewed long before the meat is on the fire.
When it is finally time to enjoy the meat, the table is set, and the meat is distributed to the whole party. Those who are in charge of the barbecue, however, often prefer not to join the table, but to stay next to the barbecue both to look over the meat that is still being grilled and to nibble on the meat directly from the source!
At this point, if you think the Turkish barbecue is over, you should think again. When the meat is done and the embers are about to burn out, it is time to put the onions, tomatoes, and potatoes on the fire. When the potatoes are ready, they are either eaten alone or as kumpir, baked potatoes topped with butter, salt, cheese, and any other ingredients you can imagine.