Tantalising Turkish tucker: Lamb and aubergine kebabs

Having spent hours upon hours yesterday afternoon researching wedding photographers (who knew there were so many?!) and concluding the search with about two dozen options and a spinning head, a simple Turkish dinner was the perfect antidote. Ash had lamb kebabs in mind for our Turkish meal, so we turned to our trusty favourite, Bought, Borrowed and Stolen by Allegra McEvedy for a recipe for lamb and aubergine kebabs.

We stuck to the recipe fairly stringently, except for the fact that it said to use flatbread and we used standard Turkish bread. Flatbread would have been perfect, but there’s a shop near us that sells beautiful, fresh Turkish breads almost the size of a football field for 70p, and this was an ideal excuse to buy one. Not that we really need an excuse when they’re that nice and that cheap. Considering we then bought all of the vegetables at the adjacent market, this turned out to be a bit of a budget meal (also sorely needed after researching wedding photographers). Much as we probably won’t mourn the day we leave this crazy South London suburb we currently call home, not having that market just up the road will one day be a huge loss.

We also made a chilli sauce inspired by that made at London Turkish restaurant, The Iskele, which Ash and his colleagues frequent. They’ve been begging for the recipe for this chilli sauce for years, to no avail. The proprietor recently weakened and provided Ash with a list of ingredients, but no quantities. We took a stab at it and made a very tasty, if not perfectly matched, chilli sauce/salsa. Out of respect for The Iskele, we’re not going to post the recipe for this one, but if you want to taste the real thing, the restaurant is highly recommended!

Looking at all those photographer websites has made our own photography look even more amateurish than usual… but c’est la vie. We never claimed to be professionals!

Lamb and Aubergine Kebabs

Ingredients
2 peppers (we used one red, one yellow)
400g minced lamb
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, grated and squeezed out
A couple of big pinches of dried mint, crushed chilli flakes and ground cumin
2 slender aubergines (the more slender the better)
2 tomatoes, quartered
Extra virgin olive oil
Strained yoghurt to serve
A couple of large flatbreads (or Turkish bread!)
Salt and pepper

Method
1. Preheat the grill.
2. Grill the peppers whole, then put them in a bowl covered with cling film to cool.
3. Use your hands to mix the lamb, garlic and onion with the dried mint, chilli, cumin, salt and pepper. Divide unequally into 4, with 2 of the balls being a bit larger than the others.
4. Cut each aubergine into 3 pieces, keeping each set of 3 separate, and season the cut sides of the aubergines. Rebuild each aubergine vertically, as a kind of tower, with the balls of meat interspersed so that the larger one is such between the two larger chunks of aubergine. Stick two metal skewers through each tower and put them under the grill. They will need to be turned quite frequently and will probably take 20-25 minutes. They are ready when the meat is browned and the aubergine blackened on the outside.
5. Drizzle the tomatoes with oil and salt, and get them cooking as well, with the cut side directed towards the heat.
6. Stir some salt into the yoghurt, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with more chilli flakes.
7. To eat, scrape the soft aubergine flesh out of the burnt skin, and squish into the bread along with the lamb, tomatoes and peeled peppers. Top off with the yoghurt (and the chilli sauce, in our case).
Serves 2 generously

Grilled peppers

Lamb mix

Accompaniments

Lamb and aubergine kebab dinner

Yum! This was a feast, but despite each chowing down on a whole aubergine, whole pepper and whole tomato as accompaniments to our big balls of lamb, salsa and bread, it somehow still felt like a light meal. The yoghurt was the ideal condiment and really complemented the other flavours. As we mentioned last week, this is the sort of food we love to eat, and we’d definitely make this simple meal again. We served it alongside a Turkish wine we discovered in M&S, which was very drinkable.

Next time we’ll be making Iraqi food. Aside from a very generalised ‘We really like Middle Eastern food’ declaration, we don’t really know what this will entail, or how Iraqi food is different from any other Middle Eastern country. Either way, given that we know we like the style of cooking and eating, we’re looking forward to finding out.

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