Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Turkey: My Yogurtlu Meatball Kebab

So here, finally, is my holiday post on Ben and mines recent trip to Turkey. Having never been before, and being completely obsessed with the Greek islands, I was a little apprehensive about what I would find in Kalkan, a resort on the Mediterranean coast. Luckily, all doubts were swept away immediately on our arrival in this very busy little seaside town. Touristy, yes, but some how not spoilt, Kalkan is the perfect middle ground between European destinations and the East, and this is most obvious in the cuisine available in the plentiful restaurants. 

View from our room
Pasha Apart Hotel, Kalkan

I really can’t speak highly enough about the food, some of it was out of this world. I had been expecting kebabs, and they were indeed on every menu, but these weren’t the greasy slithers of meat hacked off great chunks of God knows what that you come across late at night at takeaways around England. The meat was succulent and delicious, and accompanied by all manner of interesting spices and sauces and breads. On one occasion we ordered up ahead a ‘Pitcher Kebab’, which consisted of melt in the mouth lamb, vegetables and spices cooked for three hours on the barbecue in a pitcher (a kind of urn). All washed down with (surprisingly good) Turkish wine and with a complimentary mezze to start, and all for under £30 for the two of us - you really can’t go wrong. The 'Pitcher Kebab' we tried is from Begonvil Restaurant, Kalkan. 

Pitcher Kebab
Delicious Lamb

There are similarities to Greek cuisine here but, although I feel a traitor for saying it, I think Turkish food, or at least the Turkish food that I found, to be a little bit superior. I think it’s the fusion of Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines that make it so very tasty. No tzatziki though! (In Turkey they opt for a more straightforward Garlic Yoghurt).

Apparently Kalkan is considered quite posh for Turkey, and I suppose this can be seen echoed in some of the restaurants on the harbour side. Here prices reached the ‘high end’ of 35 lira for a main dish, but when you consider that’s about £14, and you’re getting a massive hunk of prime beef (yes, I’m eating beef again), flambĂ©ed at the table with brandy (and almost taking your eyebrows off in the process), and then cooked, by you, on a hot plate, so you can have it as deliciously rare as you like, its really very good value. The 'Marbled Steak' we tried is from Coast Restaurant, Kalkan.

Alex and Flaming Steak!!
Ben and Flaming Steak!!

For value and quality of food, there really is no comparison with Kalkan’s European counterparts. Considering next years holiday? Try Turkey, I’m pretty sure you’ll be converted too.

And now on to my Yogurtlu Meatball Kebab. There is such a variety of kebabs to be found on the traditional Turkish menu, but this one always jumped out at me (I call mine a kebab loosely as I don't actually skewer the meat). Consisting of juicy lamb or beef meat balls on warmed bread, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and melted cheese and served with a dollop of refreshing garlicy yoghurt, it ticks all the boxes for me. Here is my simple recipe that aims to, in some way, recreate those delicious flavours, although it would taste a lot better if I had the heat and the wine and the sea to accompany it.

Serves 2
-For the meatballs-
300g Lamb mince
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (plus more to garnish)
1 clove garlic, crushed
-For the tomato sauce-
150g Passata
¼ onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
-For the garlic yoghurt-
100g Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
-To serve-
2 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated
2 pitta bread
  1. Mix all of the meatball ingredients together in a bowl, and form into 8 to 10 meatballs. Flatten them out slightly to allow them to cook quicker under the grill. Grill for around 15 minutes, turning over part way through, until the meat is fully cooked. Sprinkle the cheese equally over each meatball, and grill for a further 30 seconds to melt the cheese.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onion and garlic (for the tomato sauce) in a saucepan over a low heat until the onion has softened. Add the passata, stir and cook over a low heat.
  3. Mix the yoghurt and garlic in a bowl. Slice each pitta bread into quarters.
  4. To assemble, place a meat ball on each quarter of pitta bread, then drizzle over the tomato sauce, and dollop the garlic yoghurt in the centre. Sprinkle with a few fresh mint leaves to finish. 


  1. This post makes me want to go to Turkey! All that food looks so yummy!

    - Maggie

  2. OH You look like you had so much fun!! I am Lebanese and I watch Turkish soap opera's ALL THE TIME and I wish I could go there! Maybe one year! Thanks for posting!

    We just started following your blog!!


    Amy & Tiff


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