Adana Turkish Kebabs

Hearty and loaded with flavor, grilled Adana-Style Turkish Kebabs are served with peppers, tomatoes, garlic yogurt sauce and rice or pita. Sneak some health into lunch, dinner or Game Day!

Adana Turkish kebabs

Spicy doesn’t need to mean hot!  In the case of these tasty Turkish kebabs, the flavor wow comes from the mix of spices like cumin, ginger and cinnamon. And once the juicy kebabs meet the savory grilled vegetables and sauce, it’s a taste sensation. 

Now I admit that our best grilling days are fading, but that doesn’t need to stop you from making tasty “grilled” foods like this. In fact with a rainstorm predicted today, I made this in a grill pan.  Not that I haven’t been know to grill in the snow!

No, winter won’t stop me from making these again!

Adana Turkish kebabs

What are Adana Kebabs? 

This recipe is based on one I found in the Ang Sarap blog which I read regularly.  

Adana Turkish kebabs come from the southern Turkish city of Adana and have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), complete with a list of requirements.  An interesting attribute of these kebabs is their unusual shape (not quite evident in my grill pan version)–long, flat and rectangular.

Of course, ultimately it’s flavor that counts.  And these are so good that even taking some liberties, they come out amazing!

Why is it Kebab vs Kabob?  You’ll see many variations on the word “kebab”  Per the Massis Kabob restaurant group, “Kabob with a “Bob” would most likely be used by people from countries such as Iran or Armenia whereas Kebab or Kabab (spelled with two “a”s) would be used in Arabic-speaking countries such as Lebanon or Syria. “  And I guess Turkey as well!

Adana Turkish kebabs

Why You’ll Love This!

Flavorful.  I love how this is spicy but not in the sense of burning hot!  Instead it’s more loaded with great exotic flavor!

Healthy.  With the vegetables and yogurt sauce that accompany this, it’s healthier than the average meal!  I even served it with whole wheat pita!

Fun.  Are you in a food rut?  If so there’s nothing like an international recipe to pull you happily out of your comfort zone!  And what’s more fun than stuffing all kinds of flavorful components into a pita!

Adana Turkish kebabs

What You’ll Need

Ingredient Notes

  • Ground beef.  This is the kebab meat. If you have lamb that would be wonderful, either alone or mixed with ground beef, and actually more authentic than beef.
  • Yogurt. This helps moisten and hold together the kebabs
  • Parsley.  Adds flavor.  Fresh is best but you can used dried.
  • Lemon.  More flavor. Sumac is the original, more authentic ingredient. The kebabs use the zest and the sauce uses the juice. 
  • Onion.  Still more flavor!
  • Fresh ginger.  I told you these were flavorful.
  • Garlic.  Yup!
  • Dried Seasonings:  red chili flakes, smoked paprika, cumin powder, cinnamon.
  • Salt, pepper.

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • Yogurt.  This is the base of the sauce.
  • Lemon juice. Lemon juice brightens the flavor
  • Fresh garlic.  Provides garlic flavor.
  • Garlic powder.  Ups the garlic flavor but with less of a bite.
  • Salt.

Special Tools

  • Skewers

Step by Step Directions

Mix kebab ingredients together in a food processor.  When well mixed, knead a few times by hand, then cover and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.

mix kebab ingredients

Make the yogurt sauce by mixing together the ingredients.  Cover and store in the refrigerator. 

Make yogurt sauce

After an hour (or up to a day), divide the meat mixture into four balls, then shape around skewers into long, thin, flat rectangles.  Press ridges into the rectangles using one finger.

form kebabs

Grill the kebabs until cooked through. 

grill kebabs

At the same time, grill the vegetables until tender.

Grill vegetables

If using pita bread, that can also be grilled or warmed.

Grill pita

Serve everything on a large platter and let people assemble their own plates.

Where I Veer From Authentic

This recipe provides a lot of great Middle Eastern flavor, but I do admit to some liberties, both for my American kitchen and for the predicted storm.

Yes, weather fears motivated me to revise the shape of my Adana Turkish Kebabs to fit my grill pan rather than attempt some waterlogged outdoor grilling. They should be longer, more rectangular and flatter.  Take a look at the link above or here for some examples.

Next, the meat in these is supposed to be hand minced lamb with a texture closer to gyro meat.  While I’ve heard that it isn’t that difficult to hand mince meat, I have a lot of ground beef from my farm quarter that needs to get used.

Finally, the original uses sumac where I use lemon zest.  I debated buying some but it’s a pricey spice, so I decided to make the compromise. 

Adana Turkish Kebabs

How to Serve

This makes a delicious lunch or dinner! Since it is typically grilled it would work beautifully on a warm summer or fall afternoon!  

I love the fact that this has both tomatoes and peppers so adding another vegetable isn’t needed.  Though regular readers know I’ll add a salad to (almost) anything!

Adana Turkish Kebabs can be served with bulgur pilaf or rice, but I decided to go with pita.

I wrapped my pita around the meat and then added the toppings. My husband opened his up and stuffed everything in.  Using it whole worked a little better since  the bread didn’t shred when dampened by the yogurt topping. 

Of course, you could also serve with knife and fork!

Adana Turkish kebabs

Variations

This reminded me a lot of some of the kefta recipes I make, although those have tomatoes and other vegetables incorporated right into the meat mixture.  But in terms of flavor profile, there were a many similarities. 

So if you like this, take a look at my Kefta in Tahini sauce, which is a seriously easy way of getting some exotic flavor into your life.  And for a salad see my Kefta Salad with Tzatziki Dressing .  So good!

If you’re looking for other kabobs, favorites include these No Marinade Lamb Kabobs or my Mixed Seafood Kabobs.

Adana Turkish Kebabs

Tips & FAQs

I am very proud of the grill marks on my pita!  But since the bread is light, I needed to weigh it down to get enough contact to achieve this. So worth it!

Did you know you don’t need to peel ginger?   See Bon Appetit for a recipe developers true confession that she doesn’t do as she writes.

Consider making extra sauce for dipping.  Yes, I love, love, love sauces.  If you do too, go for more!  Or include some thinned tahini in addition!

Finally, I just read that bamboo skewers can be composted!  Simply break them into smaller pieces and toss them in with your scraps.  I haven’t personally tried this, but I figure that since we screen out compost before using it, I have nothing to lose!

Adana Turkish kebabs

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Adana Turkish Kebabs

Adana Turkish Kebabs

Hearty, and loaded with flavor, grilled Adana-Style Turkish Kebabs are served with peppers, tomatoes, garlic yogurt sauce and rice or pita. Sneak some health into lunch, dinner or Game Day!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Refrigeration 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Kebabs

  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 2 Tablespoons yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoons salt

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic. minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other

  • Grilled tomatoes 2 large plum
  • Grilled Banana peppers 3
  • Pita or other flatbread

Instructions
 

  • Mix kebab ingredients together in a food processor. When well mixed, knead a few times by hand, then cover and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.
  • Make the yogurt sauce by mixing together the ingredients. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
  • After an hour (or up to a day), divide the meat mixture into four balls, then shape around skewers into long, thin, flat rectangles. Press ridges into the rectangles using one finger.
  • Grill the kebabs until cooked through.
  • At the same time, grill the vegetables until tender.
  • If using pita bread, that can also be grilled or warmed.
  • Serve everything on a large platter and let people assemble their own plates.

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