Oh, kebap!
photo by munal4

Turkish cuisine has a wide variety of delicious dishes and one particular that has a world wide fame: Kebab! It’s a dish of plain or marinated meat either stewed or grilled with a rich variety in all around Turkey. I’ve tasted most of them and can certainly say they were all pleasant flavours. And maybe that’s why when I witness something pleasant, I repeat the famous saying; “Oh, kebap!”.

Couple years ago, there was a play called Kebab ( by a Romanian playwright Gianina Carbunariu) in a London theater.  Never got a chance to see it, but good reviews and thought the story was interesting. Although kebab is eaten popularly in Turkey and Middle east area, it’s spread to all over the world by immigrants and this art piece was another proof of its fame. Kebab (“kebap” in Turkish) mostly refers to şiş (shish) kebab or döner kebab but there is a wide variety indeed. The word kabab is originally from Persian and means fried, not grilled meat. There are different stories about its history but they all agree at the same point as kebab culture dates back to ancient times.

 Şiş kebab (pronounced “shish”) is a meat dish grilled on a skewer. It can be any kind of meat cut in pieces and lined up on a skewer with cubes of vegetables. Tavuk şiş is chicken grilled on a stick, Çöp şiş is small boneless meat grilled with tomatoes and garlic, Kuzu şiş is prepared with marinated lamb meat. Döner kebab (means “rotating kebab” in Turkish), is sliced lamb, beef or chicken, slowly roasted on a vertical rotating spit in front of a fire. It was invented by Iskender Efendi from Bursa in 1867. When it’s served with yoghurt, tomato sauce and butter, it’s called Iskender kebab. Adana kebab  is made of hand-minced (zırh) meat mixed with chili on a flat wide metal skewer. If it’s not spicy, then it’s called Urfa kebab. Çömlek kebab (earthenware bowl kebab) is made of meat and vegetable casserole with eggplant, carrots, shallots, beans, tomatoes and green pepper. Testi kebab (earthenware-jug kebab) is very similar to çömlek kebab, but prepared in a testi (earthenware-jug) instead.  Beyti kebab is made of lamb or beef, seasoned and grilled on a skewer, often served in wrapped lavash and topped with tomato sauce and yoghurt.  Alinazik kebab is meat sautéed in a saucepan, with garlic, yoghurt and eggplants. Bahçıvan kebab, literally means gardener’s kebab and made of boneless lamb shoulder mixed with chopped onions and tomato paste. Buğu kebab (steamed kebab) is cooked in low heat until the meat releases its moisture and re-absorbs it. Çökertme kebab is sirloin veal kebab stuffed with yoghurt and potatoes. Hünkâr  kebab is also known as ‘Sultan’s kebab’ and it’s made of  sliced lamb meat mixed with aubergine purée, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Orman kebab, literally means ‘forest kebab’ in Turkish and it’s made of lamb meat cut in large pieces, mixed with carrots, potatoes and peas.  Patlıcan kebab (aubergine kebab) is made of meat marinated in spices and served with aubergines, hot pitta bread and a yoghurt sauce.

 If you travel around Anatolia, you sure will discover more kinds of kebabs, cooked with different styles and ingredients. Thanks to its fame, you can easily find a kebab restaurant in all over the world and enjoy this delicious dish. As we, Turks say; “Afiyet olsun!” (Bon Appétit in Turkish).

Meet the author


Independent Filmmaker and freelance writer/video journalist with 16 years of experience in media.

She has produced and hosted several programmes for Turkish televisions and currently hosting a food&travel show on TRT (Turkish National Radio& TV) Avaz television. She has also produced two off-off Broadway shows (I, Anatolia & 1001 New York Nights) in NYC and one (Wall) as a part of 15th International Theatre Festival in Istanbul.

On IMDB she has credits for a Lifetime TV movie Student Seduction (Asst. to Exec. Producer) and an independent documentary film The Magical Call of Oryantal (Producer&Director).