Not an Adana Kebab Recipe No. 2

If you’ve been following my recipes or Instagram account for a while, you’ll know I have a thing for Adana kebabs. It started (maybe?) with the late-night, fat-spitting, t-shirt stainer they sell in wraps at FM Mangal and now I’m constantly making them at home, be it in crispy kebab rolls, as this yogurtlu’ version smothered in yoghurt and spiced butter, or the many straight-up, wrap-it-in-flatbread-with-salad iterations. The basic recipe – as recipes do – has constantly evolved.

This is the most up to date version and, I think, the best yet. Why? It’s a case of using the right amount of the red pepper paste so it’s pronounced but not bitter, plus I just really enjoy the mix of spices. Parsley stalks are pretty crucial too because they bring a slight crunch and pops of fresh flavour, while the leaves tend to get lost.

Method is important, so make sure you knead the meat mixture then chill it for a springier texture and to stop it falling off the skewers during cooking. Also, don’t make them too large because they won’t cook evenly. Keep the accompaniments fairly simple; yoghurt is essential and I also like to serve an onion, sumac and parsley salad, plus plenty of freshly made flatbreads. Yes, it’s worth making the flatbreads. A couple of people have asked me to do a flatbread tutorial on Instagram, so I’ll get around to that as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these! Remember, guys: it’s never too cold to barbecue.

New Adana Kebab Recipe (makes 6 kebabs)


For the spice mix

1-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chilli flakes

Toast the whole spices (apart from the chilli flakes) in a dry frying pan until fragrant, then grind all the spices using a spice grinder.

For the kebabs

6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper paste (biber salçası – available in Turkish shops such as The Turkish Food Centre)
2 tablespoons parsley stalks
400g minced lamb
2 teaspoons salt

Combine the garlic cloves and salt in a pestle and mortar and smoosh to a paste. Combine with a tablespoon of the spice mix, the red pepper paste, parsley stalks and minced lamb. Knead the meat in the bowl using your hands, as if you are kneading bread dough. Do this for a few minutes, then allow to rest in the fridge for a minimum of half an hour but if you can do this day before, even better.

Divide between 6 large skewers.

Cook the kebabs over direct heat on a barbecue. You know the drill here, right? Make sure your coals are properly ready, e.g. covered in a layer of grey ash before you start cooking. No flames. They’ll take around 3-4 minutes each side (it’s useful to have a pair of tongs on hand to turn them).

For the onion salad

Slice one onion and add the slices to a bowl of iced water for around 20 minutes or so. Combine with a good handful of chopped parsley leaves, some salt and a tablespoon of sumac.

For the flatbreads

I think you can’t beat fresh flatbreads with this. That recipe uses spices but you can just leave them out (as I did).

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  • Avatar
    Reply Lizzie October 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm


    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves October 2, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      I got Delia to invite you! But she just kept saying ‘FLOOF’

  • Avatar
    Reply fuat Karatas October 2, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    It is a very wrong recipe

  • Avatar
    Reply Merryn October 18, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    How sensational I love your simple explanations and divine flavours for the kebabs. Sadly I will make these with beef mince to keep hubby happy but I am sure they will be delicious with this spice mix all the same. Also it is a great tip to dunk the sliced onions in cold water before mixing with sumac, salt and parsley. I have poured boiling water over them trying to recreate that amazing Turkish onion salad so thank you so much for sharing this tip 8)

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves October 19, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks Merryn! Yep, they will still be delicious with beef although I would make sure to get nice fatty mince. Hope you enjoy!

  • Avatar
    Reply Dems Banjo October 31, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Hmmm. Sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Avatar
    Reply Mşk April 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    This is not adana kebab ıf you will come to Adana in Turkey you can eat Adana Kebab

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves April 18, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Hello! Yes, I’ve been to Turkey to eat Adana kebab. Please do not be offended, it’s just a variation. I respect the original Turkish versions and I’m just having fun with the recipe.

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    Reply Charlotte April 24, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Hey! Stupid question, when I made the spice mix it was way more than a table spoon once ground down, would you just stick with the tablespoon you reference in the recipe and save the rest for another time or chuck it all in? Thanks 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves April 25, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Hi Charlotte,

      That’s right! Just chuck a tablespoon in and save the rest in an airtight container.

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    Reply David Appleby June 9, 2019 at 10:56 am

    As a regular visitor to Turkey & having spent some time there I can assure you that even in Adana there are countless variations. Even at the last time in Adana I was asked at one very noteworthy & local popular restaurant if I wanted my Adana Hot or Normal. On asking I was told that in Adana some use the Aleppo Pepper, some Urfa (Isot) & others just chopped fresh green that have been thrown on the charcoals for a couple of minutes. He also added that there was not such a thing as an “Adana Recipe” as it was all down to a question of taste. So it looks like you must be eating the one that you like & classing that as the supreme recipe.

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    Reply Michael June 28, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    what might be an alternative to red pepper paste? I’m in France and they’re not very worldly wise in their spices here, read ‘a bunch of wusses’! it can be challenging to find anything out of the ordinary.

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      Reply Helen Graves July 1, 2019 at 10:05 am

      Hi Michael – I’d just leave it out to be honest. It’s not like red pepper (the fresh one) as it’s quite bitter and doesn’t have much liquid. I’d just add a bit more chilli. If you really wanted maybe you could find it on Amazon?

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