From Dish Erin:
I had the opportunity to go to Istanbul recently, an item on the bucket list I’ve been wanting to check off for a long time. Yes, it’s rich with history, yes it’s exotic, yes I had a blast. But most of all, I ate my way through the capital of the former Ottoman Empire. And it was delicious. One of our favorite dishes was Iskender Kebab, aka lamb kebab with savory yogurt sauce, spicy tomato sauce and unctuous pieces of toasted pita bread. It’s spicy, savory, and full of texture and though I ate it about 10 times in 5 days, the moment I got back to the states I tried to recreate it in my American kitchen. Fun fact: the name of the dish comes from Alexander the Great, whom the Persians called “Iskender.”
The actual Iskender Kebab is made on a spit and slow roasted for 2 full days, so I took a necessary shortcut and grilled it instead.
1 yellow onion
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic
Blend of spices: paprika, cumin, ground coriander, a touch of cinnamon and turmeric (optional)
3/4-1 lb top round lamb cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup Greek-style natural yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons water or chicken stock
1 baguette sliced into 1 inch cubes
2 long fresh green chillies
Puree the onion, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of oil and spice mixture in a food processor. In a bowl, pour over lamb and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to marinate.
Combine the yogurt and half the garlic, another tablespoon of lemon juice, and a touch of S&P in a small bowl. Cover and place in the fridge.
Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the remaining garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until soft. Add the paprika and chilli and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato sauce and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place pieces of bread in a bowl and pour a little olive oil over, then season with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Place on a pan and bake until crispy on outside, but soft in the middle, about 6-7 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Thread the lamb onto 4 skewers.
Preheat a barbecue or large grill pan on high. Add the lamb and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. When the lamb is about halfway done add the 2 large chilis to the pan and roast, turning every few minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.
Divide the bread and chillies evenly among serving plates. Remove lamb from skewers and place on top of bread. Dress with even amounts of yogurt and spicy tomato sauce.