What is Adana kebab?
Adana kebab (Turkish spelling: adana kebabı, pronounced: “ah-dah-nah kuh-BAAB”) is a Turkish dish consisting of seasoned minced lamb, prepared on a skewer over a charcoal fire. Kebab means “roasted meat”; in this case roasted meat from the city of Adana, in the south of Turkey. In the country itself, the dish is also known as kiyma kebab.
The term kebab refers to all kinds of Middle Eastern dishes consisting of meat, fish and/or vegetables that are roasted on a skewer over a fire. As well as Adana kebab, shish kebab, doner kebab and Iskender kebab are some other variants with different tastes, textures and shapes.
Did you know...
Adana kebab has a protected designation of origin (PDO). This means that an original Adana kebab can only be made in Adana, by a seller who has passed an unannounced check by the Chamber of Commerce, meeting a considerable number of rules. For example, the meat should come from a male lamb, no older than one year. The meat must be chopped by hand with a heavy sword-like knife, the zirh. A fifth of the meat should consist of tail fat and there is also a specific spice mixture. Of course, outside of Adana, you will have to settle for an approximation of the original. Fortunately, those approximations are usually pretty tasty too!
How to make Adana kebab
Shoulder or leg lamb meat is coarsely chopped with lamb tail fat and mild red pepper or paprika. By hand. With a zirh. The minced meat is seasoned with a special spice mixture, kneaded and moulded by hand around long, flat, skewers. The sausages, which is what they actually are, are then grilled over a charcoal fire.
Turkish flatbread, preferably lavash, is warmed on top of the meat just before the skewers are ready, giving it the taste of the meat and a hint of the smokiness from the coals.
How to eat
The Turks prefer to eat their Adana kebab in the city of Adana itself. In the absence of a travel budget, you can of course also choose a good restaurant. The meat is pushed off the skewer and served on top of the flatbread.
Eat an Adana kebab in an authentic way with zerzavat, a salad of red onion, parsley and sumac. A rice side dish is another option.
Difference between urfa and adana kebab
Urfa and adana are both Turkish kebabs made with a mixture of ground meat (lamb and/or beef), accompanied by grilled veggies, fresh salad, pita bread, and various yogurt or tahini-based sauces. The key difference is the spices. Urfa have a more mellow and slightly sweet flavour, with salt, pepper, and a Turkish red pepper called “isot,” which adds a smoky and earthy taste. Adana feature a generous use of spicy red pepper flakes (called “pul biber” in Turkish), which gives them their distinctive hot and flavourful taste.
An Iskender kebab consists of wafer-thin slices of meat and is served on bread just like Adana kebab.