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Reblogged:Recipe: Iskender Kebab

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Way back in our Houston days, Mrs. Van Horn and I would sometimes enjoy Anatolian cuisine at the Istanbul Grill, close to where we worked, and right on top of my favorite bar -- which I am sad to see fell victim to the pandemic.
Not mine! (Image by Benreis, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
My favorite entree there was the Iskender Kebab.

Based on a recent review of my notes, I apparently had a hankering for it back in 2018, and had found a recipe. But I never got around to trying it, probably because that was the year we moved to Florida.

With those memories stirred again, I reviewed the recipe and created my version, below. Unlike me, the rest of my family doesn't handle spiciness well, so I omit the red pepper from the original.

The recipe is pretty simple, uses ingredients most Americans can find easily in regular grocery stores, and is a good approximation to what I remember. The marinade requires juice from a couple of liquefied onions, which was probably the most difficult step. But that difficulty was primarily because I don't use food processors very often, so had to find and dust mine off, first. (I don't know if the condiment can be used for a good substitute, but I might try that.)

In any event, I was very happy with the results and plan to make this somewhat regularly. If you try this and like it, or want to make other Turkish food at home, the author of the original recipe has an entire cookbook out.


Iskender Kebab

Preparation Time is 1 hour, with an overnight marinade before.


onions, 2 large
rib eye steak or lamb/beef tenderloin, 2 lbs
Note: Have butcher thinly slice meat (about 1/4 inch thick), if possible.
olive oil, 6 tbsp
oregano, 2 tsp
salt, 1 tsp
black pepper, 1 tsp
bell peppers, 2
tomatoes, 3 medium
tomato paste, 1 can
water, 2 cups
pita bread, 6 pieces
Greek-style yogurt, plain, 2 cups


Day 1

1. Grate or liquefy the onions.
2. Reserve liquid in nonmetallic marinade bowl.
3. Add 3 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp oregano to bowl and mix.
4. Discard onion pulp.
5. Thinly slice the meat if it has not already been sliced.
6. Salt, pepper, and tenderize the meat.
7. Add meat to marinade.
8. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

1. Place tomato paste into a small bowl and the marinade bowl on counter near stove.
2. Slice pita bread into 1.5" squares and place on oven tray.
3. In parallel with slicing steps, heat (1) 2 tbsp olive oil in medium sauce pan and (2) 1 tbsp olive oil in frying pan at medium heat.
4. Slice bell peppers and place into medium bowl.
5. Slice tomatoes into wedges and place into bowl with bell peppers.
6. In parallel with the next three steps, prepare sauce as follows.
  1. Add tomato paste to pan, seasoning it with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the 2 cups of water to pan and mix.
  3. Bring sauce to boil.
  4. Simmer sauce for 10 minutes.
7. Heat oven to 350 F.
8. Prepare meat and vegetables as follows in parallel with heating pita slices.
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan at high heat.
  2. Cook meat slices 2 minutes per side.
  3. Sauté vegetables afterwards or on other side of skillet until black at edges.
9. Heat pita slices in oven for 5 minutes.
10. To serve:
  1. Place pita slices on plate.
  2. Top pita with meat slices.
  3. Pour sauce over meat.
  4. Place vegetables to one side.
  5. Place a dollop of yogurt on the other side.

-- CAV

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