BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

Since returning from an Istanbul > Beirut > Istanbul jaunt way back in April, I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of recipes I want to re-create. Despite writing about lahmacun, yoghurt with celeriac, liver and onions Turkish stylee, and Turkish lamb meatballs with rhubarb, I am in no way through dealing with Istanbul, and I’ve barely started on you, Beirut, posting only about the marvellous man’oushe.

This recipe was inspired by a restaurant in Istanbul that actually, we didn’t much like. I think that happened once in our entire trip. It’s in Beyoglu, which seems to be the trendy bit of Istanbul. It’s also the area I enjoyed the least. It felt a bit young and hip and I dunno, I guess I’m really not the latter, because it’s just not the kind of atmosphere I enjoy when I’m exploring a new city. Is that weird? Maybe that’s weird. It is? How dare you! I’m very cool, it’s just that a thousand spaghetti-strapped women and block print embellished denim-ed men leaning around in bars playing Europop isn’t my idea of a good time. That’s a really unfair picture of Beyoglu in general, but perfectly accurate when it comes to the surroundings of this restaurant. The staff thought they were THE SHIT, too, prancing around like the restaurant floor was a fashion show or something. Totally aware that’s the kind of thing my mum said when I asked if I could have those high-heeled patent sling backs for my first year at Big School, but anyway.

They did one good thing, and that was to introduce us to adana kebabs rolled up into cigar shapes inside very thin bread. This is brilliant because you get the contrast between crisp bread and soft meat, but also because all the juiciness from the lamb soaks into the bread. This one dish made the whole sorry experience worthwhile. There’s also the opportunity to roll all sorts of other goodies inside with the meat of course, which I duly did…ranging from yoghurt, to feta, to spring onions. There was something else too but I’m not prepared to admit it.

It took a bit of experimenting to get the recipe right. Although the meat remained moist (there is a shit load of lovely fatty lamb in there after all…) they just weren’t QUITE juicy enough, so in the end I decided to cook the kebabs, before spreading the bread (lavash, by the way, it’s appropriately thin) very sparsely with some of the meat mixture, plonking the ‘bab onto it, rolling up, then commencing crisping. It does weird you out a bit, putting cooked meat on top of  raw, but it’s only for a moment and anyway, just get on with it.

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

The other major change I’ve made with my adana is to add some Georgian ajika paste so this is a little bit fusion I suppose but come on, Turkey and Georgia are bordering countries. Ajika is a rather fierce chilli paste, which some dunce rather dopily describes on Wikipedia as ‘vindaloo strength’. It’s pretty hot, basically, but with an incredible flavour. It’s a magic ingredient, the kind of thing you end up chucking into all sorts of dishes. I’ll post my own recipe for it here soon.

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls


(makes about 6 kebabs, depending on size obviously)

400g fatty lamb mince, 150g lean lamb mince (such as neck)
1/2 onion
1/2 red pepper
1 tablespoon ajika paste
2 cloves garlic
Few pinches salt
Lavash bread
Yoghurt (optional)
Feta (optional)
Spring onions, finely sliced (optional)

Blitz the lean mince into a blender with the onion, pepper, ajika and garlic. Add the fatty mince. Season highly with salt and give the meat a really good mix, kneading it with your hands almost like bread for a few minutes. Refrigerate for an hour or so if you can before shaping onto soaked wooden skewers (the kebabs will be easier to turn if you use two per kebab), then refrigerate again. Reserve about a tablespoon of meat per kebab, for smearing on the flatbreads later.

When ready to cook, prep your BBQ, and when the coals are covered in white ash, sling those ‘babs on, they won’t take long – 5 mins each side. Don’t try to turn them until they’ve built up a crust or else they wills stick. Cut a piece of lavash large enough to encase each kebab (remember you’re rolling it up), smear this with a tablespoon of the reserved meat, then plonk your cooked ‘bab on top and add any cheese, yoghurt, spring onions you fancy and roll it up. Slap back onto the grill until crisp on each side.

I like to serve these with extra garlic yoghurt and huge plates of herbs.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Food Urchin July 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I have a problem with this recipe post Helen.

    Whilst this all looks wonderful and marvelous and all that, I am a bit miffed that you haven’t told us where we can get this Ajika paste from or even linked to a recip…..

    Oh wait, you have……

    OK, carry on, carry on, nothing to see here……..*whistles*

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen July 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Ha ha, well, not a recipe as such, but yeah, I shall post mine soon and then all will be well. You can buy some Georgian products in branches of the Turkish food centre so that’s worth investigating as an option.

  • Avatar
    Reply Iain July 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Mmmm, breakfast of champions.

    Where do you buy the lavash?

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen July 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Ha ha. I buy it in Persepolis. They also sell it online.

  • Avatar
    Reply Ms Marple July 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    oh god oh god. I just want to eat my computer…..sooo hungry now.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen July 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Don’t eat your computer though…crunchy

  • Avatar
    Reply Lizzie July 27, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I stayed in Beyoglu when we went to Istanbul and though I enjoyed its liveliness, it was HELL on a Saturday night – and the price of booze varied wildly from bar to bar. You know how I like my booze, Melon. CHEAP. That’s how I like it.

    This looks wonderful. What herbs do you serve with them on the huge plates?

  • Avatar
    Reply Zoe Perrett (@TheSpiceScribe) July 31, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Stick a bit of sheep tail fat in the meat mix for extra OH GOD.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen July 31, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Yes! Excellent stuff. We had some sheep tail fat enhanced shwarma in Beirut (another thing I haven’t written about yet), which was just incredible.

  • Avatar
    Reply Donald August 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Hi Zoe,

    Do you have any idea where we can get sheep’s tail fat in the UK? I’ve asked around a couple of places (well Sally from Persepolis as it’s a big thing in Iranian food). Would really like to have a play at cooking with it.

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