“Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish speciality; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. The kebabs are wonderful when chargrilled in the barbecue in summer time, but equally delicious grilled in the oven in winter. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab can make any day special.” – Ozlem
Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes
For the kebabs:
500 gr/1 ¼ lb/ 2 ¼ cups ground lamb (or ground meat of your choice, or a mixture)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
60ml/4 tbsp pistachios shelled
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
5ml/1 tsp red pepper or paprika flakes; kirmizi biber
5ml/ 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
A bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil to help shape the kebabs
For the roasted vegetables:
3 colourful bell peppers, deseeded and cut in thick slices lengthways and a few chilli peppers deseeded, OR 10-12 sweet and chilli small, colourful peppers, cut in half lengthways and deseeded
4 medium tomatoes, halved and cut into chunky slices
1 medium onion, halved and cut into chunky slices
45ml/ 3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large flatbread; pide, or 4 pitta bread, sliced lengthways
Yoghurt and cucumber dip with dried mint (cacık) to serve.
Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F
First, roast your vegetables. By roasting the vegetables rather than grilling, you can save and enjoy all the wonderful juices over the flatbread. Place the onion, peppers and tomatoes in a baking tray. Drizzle the olive oil over and season with salt and pepper. Give them all a good mix to make sure all the vegetables are coated with olive oil and seasoning. Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, giving them a mix halfway through.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the kebabs. First have a bowl of water, drizzled with olive oil ready aside, to knead and help shape the kebabs into the skewers. Pulse the shelled pistachios in a food processor a few times, until it is grainy. Place the ground lamb in a bowl, and stir in the pistachios, chopped onions, garlic and parsley. Season with salt and ground pepper, and add the red pepper/paprika flakes. Wet your hands in the water and olive oil mixture and knead well to a smooth paste. Cover and rest for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted in the oven.
Once the vegetables are chargrilled, take the tray out of the oven, cover and set aside (you may need to warm the vegetables before serving).
Set the grill to its highest setting and start shaping the kebabs. With the bowl of water and olive oil mixture by your side, take a handful of the meat mixture, and press it around the grilling skewer into a shape of a flat sausage. Wet your hands with the water and olive oil mixture; this will help shape the meat into the skewers and keep the meat moist and intact.
As soon as the kebabs are shaped, cook them under the grill/broiler for about 4 minutes or until they are golden and cooked through on that side. Place the sliced flatbread or pitta bread on a tray and put the tray under the grill, at the bottom of the kebabs. Turn the kebabs and cook for a further 3-4 minutes or until they are golden on the other side too. In the meantime, the flatbreads will capture all the wonderful juices of the kebab.
Also at this stage place the roasted vegetables back in the oven to keep them warm.
Once the kebabs are cooked, prepare your serving tray. Put the grilled, warm flatbread slices side by side on the tray. Place the kebab skewers in the middle and the roasted vegetables on each side, making sure their wonderful juice also makes it to the tray. Serve this delicious kebab with the Yoghurt and cucumber dip, Cacik on the side.