Adana Kebabs

A few weeks back I was all geared up to tell you how I’ve been writing this blog for ten years. Ten years! I would tell the story of how it all started, reminiscing about the first post I wrote and what I’d cooked. There was even a special ‘anniversary’ recipe – further evidence that I’m a sentimental douche.

Then I realised that actually, I’ve only been going for nine years. Pathetic. I got it wrong and so you’ll have to wait to hear how I got into trouble with the council because I started a food blog. And no you can’t look up the post, clever clogs, because when I changed the design of this site the first time around, a load of stuff got lost, including that. I’m not even lying because I’m embarrassed and I don’t want you to read it, (if you want to find some terrible cringe-y old content on here then there’s plenty more to choose from).

You could make yours the same size.

You could make yours the same size.

So the new, celebratory recipe I’d been working on was a kebab, which possibly reveals that my first ever recipe on here was, too, of that nature. I feel like I started out strong and then maintained a stream of posts dominated by grilled meat, swearing, butter, hot sauce, BBQ and general mischief.

Brushing the Adana

Brushing the Adana

Anyway, we’re not getting into all that until next year. What I’m doing now is giving you a bonus Adana kebab recipe because YOU’RE WORTH IT. This is Donald’s recipe for kebabs, which is annoying because it’s better than the one I made and then published in my book. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? The recipe in my book is still great, FYI, it’s just that you know, recipes evolve and all that. This Adana is so much more an Adana for ‘right now’. It understands me in a way that no other Adana does. It’s not the old Adana’s fault, it’s mine etc. etc.

You want all the kebab juices to soak into your bread.

You want all the kebab juices to soak into your bread.

The reason they’re so good is partly down to the spice mix, partly down to the cooking method. They’re not even really proper Adana, that’s just what we call them because they’re spicy and made with lamb. Don’t even start with me on the authenticity thing because you know I always outrun the Food Police.

The smacked cucumbers

The smacked cucumbers

The other great thing here is the side salad, which takes the method of Sichuan smacked cucumbers but uses flavours more appropriate for Turkish kebabs. So it’s got loads of garlic as usual but also sumac and Turkish chilli and it might even be my new favourite summer salad. So there.

I recommend grilling some onions and chilies to serve on the side.

I recommend grilling some onions and chillies to serve on the side.

You’ll cook these kebabs on the BBQ, obviously, and eat them with flatbreads and yoghurt while you practice counting to ten. It’s surprisingly easy to get rusty.

Donald’s Adana Kebabs Recipe

For the spice mix

2-inch cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
4 dried red chillies
6 cardamom pods
20 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt

Bash the cinnamon stick a bit then grind the whole lot in a spice grinder.

For the basting sauce

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sumac
2 teaspoons Urfa (Turkish) chilli flakes
2 teaspoons sea salt
A grind of black pepper

Mix it all together.

For the kebabs

750g minced lamb
2 red chillies, de-seeded
1/2 onion, finely chopped
Generous handful parsley leaves, chopped
1.5 tablespoons spice mix (above)

Mix everything together and knead it really well with your hands – about 5 minutes. This is important for the texture of the kebabs so don’t skip it. Divide into six portions (or whatever your skewers will allow) and shape into logs. Thread skewers into the logs. It’s best to use flat, wide skewers here or you risk the kebabs falling off. If yours are quite round, use two per kebab.

Leave to rest in the fridge for an hour or so. Prepare a BBQ with the coals to one side – it’s best to cook them to one side because otherwise the fat will drip and make the BBQ flare up, burning your kebabs.

Cook the kebabs on the cooler side of the BBQ, basting frequently with the sauce and turning until cooked through – around 10-15 minutes. Towards the end of cooking time, lay the flatbreads on top of the kebabs to get some smoke flavour into them and heat them through. Serve the kebabs on top of the breads so the juices run into them.

To serve

Flatbreads
Yoghurt
Cucumber salad (below)
A skewer each of onion slices and chillies (brush with oil and grill on the BBQ while the kebabs are cooking)

Turkish Smacked Cucumbers

2 of those small cucumbers you get in Middle Eastern grocers or one large English cucumber
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Urfa chilli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar (we used ‘grape vinegar’ from the Turkish supermarket but use red wine vinegar (same thing?!), cider vinegar, whatever)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Halve the cucumbers then place them seed side down on a chopping board. Smack them with the side of a cleaver or something else until they’re smashed a bit. Chop into 2cm lengths and mix with all the other ingredients.