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Iskender kebab

Iskender kebab
Iskender kebab

Iskender kebab

Iskender kebab is a kebab dish that consists of crispy, wafer-thin slices of lamb (doner kebab), draped over a sliced or sliced single Turkish sandwich (pide) and topped with a tomato sauce, yoghurt and melted butter.

What is iskender kebab?

Iskender kebab (pronounced: “is-ken-der keh-bab”) is a kebab dish from Bursa in Northwestern Turkey. It consists of crispy, wafer-thin slices of lamb (doner kebab), served on slices of bread or in a Turkish flatbread and topped with tomato sauce, yoghurt and melted butter.

The dish is named after Mehmetoglu Iskender Efendi, a chef who created the Iskender kebab in his home town of Bursa in 1867. This explains why the dish is also called Bursa kebab. As time passed, more chefs in Bursa started serving the dish – each chef claimed to have learned the art directly from chef Iskender. Although the dish is nowadays prepared throughout Turkey and far beyond, it still tastes best in Bursa.

The dish is one of many doner (grilled meat) dishes from Turkish cuisine. Two variants that are popular across Canada are portable: the doner kebab served in a sandwich (regular doner or sandwich doner) or rolled in a flatbread (durum doner). In Turkey itself and in Turkish restaurants everywhere, doner meat is served on top of rice. If you put a French fry – one, no more – in your doner sandwich, you will eat a doner Alla Turca.

Did you know?

Chef Iskender’s grandson, Yavuz Iskenderoglu, still serves the familiar kebabs in Bursa, according to the family tradition. The “ancestral grill”, on which it all began, is displayed in the hall of his restaurant in the Bursa Botanical Gardens.

How to make iskender kebab

First, the doner kebab meat is prepared: lamb, sometimes beef or veal, is threaded on large skewers and roasted upright in a rotating grill until golden brown. Crispy slices of meat are cut from top to bottom. The meat is placed on a pide (Turkish bread) cut into strips or cubes. Some chefs spoil their customers even further with an elongated meatball on top as a bonus. A tomato sauce, made from tomato, tomato puree, butter and bay leaf, is reduced considerably and then poured over the meat. The Iskender kebab is finished with a scoop of yoghurt and a dash of melted butter as a final touch.

How to eat

Iskender kebab is served as a dish with salad and a roasted Turkish (pointed) bell pepper.

Please consider

Traditionally, people drink salty ayran or sweet sira with Iskender kebab, a lightly fermented drink made from grape juice.

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Iskender kebab