Binnur's Turkish Cookbook

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Iskender Kebab

(Iskender Kebap)

Iskender Kebab - click to enlarge
2 pieces of beef tenderloin, each 200 gr
200 gr regular ground beef
4 pieces of Asian Nan Pita bread or plain pita bread (pide)
Salt
Pepper

Garnish:
Yogurt
1 cup tomato paste, heated up with a few tbs of water
(or use canned crushed tomatoes)
2 tbsp butter

Add the salt and pepper to the ground beef. Knead and give it a round shape, then place in the middle of the two pieces of tenderloin.

Cover in plastic wrap and leave in the freezer overnight. The next day remove from the fridge 45 minutes before cutting. Use a knife, electric knife or meat cutter to shred it (picture). Then fry in a large pan (be careful not to over-fry).

Cut the pitas in bite size diagonal shapes and place on the plates (picture). Spread the beef over the pita bread pieces. Pour the tomato sauce on top and place a few spoons of yogurt on the side. Lastly, melt the butter in a small pan. When it starts bubbling, pour over the tomato sauce (picture).

Serve Iskender Kebab while still hot. This recipe makes 4 servings.

45 Comments:

At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just returned from Istanbul and had this dish several times. Wonderful!

 
At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cok guzel bir yemektir! This is one great recipe!

 
At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Sabrina said...

Would this possibly be like the Doener sandwiches that they have in Germany? I lived in Germany for 12 years and the one thing I miss the most is the Doeners (meat turning on a spit, served in a pita with tomato, a spicy red seasoning and a yogurt or cucumber sauce on top). At the time I was in Germany, I believe that the meat used was lamb but with the Mad Cow Desease scare, they have now started doing the Doener sandwiches using chicken. I would do anything to get a Doener sandwich like I had in Germany. Please Binnur, help me out!!

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous al said...

When I was in Ankara, Turkey they also topped this dish with melted butter. On the side were thinly shaved onions, lettuce, and radish. Totally incredible.

 
At 11:25 PM, Anonymous mike said...

In response to Sabrina:
I was in Turkey last summer and had iskender several times while I was there. While in Van the locals recommended going to a small restaurant there and getting the chicken(tavuk) iskender. Everyone said it was the only place they knew that served it. But friends told me that chicken iskender is more common as you move further west and get into larger cities. So you're Doeners might have some basis in traditional Turkish food.

 
At 10:06 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Mike,
Traditionally Iskender is made of beef, not chicken. I never heard of
chicken Iskender before, I think it is new! Chicken Doner (not
Iskender)is more populer in Arab Countries. We may have chicken Doner but beef Doner is the most popular:)

(by the way, I had replied to sabrina by email as she wrote me after her post)

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger LeeBee935 said...

finally! somebody that has a recipe that actually looks and sounds like ( I have yet to find out if it tastes like) the iskender I had in turkey!

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Lee,
I cook Iskender almost every 10 days at home. This is the best
homemade Iskender, give it a try:)

 
At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Binnur,

You have said to knead the beef and give it a round shape, how thick should you make it? The iskender i have eaten in Australia is quite thin (the meat. Also with the tenderloins is it best to buy thin pieces of tenderloin or can you flatten the tenderloin with a meat tenderiser (meat mallet)?

Also is this how they make the meat for iskender in resturants/cafes?

Jade

 
At 6:50 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Jade,
It is quite thick. You are not going to cook it thick like that.
Instead after it's frozen, you'll slice it in thin pieces :) Read over
the second paragraph.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Binnur :
I`m Mona from Syria , I was ammaized by your site!!!
thanx alot for sharing your recipes , I would like to ask you : what do you mean by tenderloin ???

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

another question ,i know that you had to use tahini with the Yogurt in this recipe ! and please tell me more about tomato paste .

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Mona,
Thank you very much:) Tenderloin is the tender boneless portion cut
from the inside of the breast. Usually the most tender part:)
Various names for tenderloin steaks include:
* Filet Mignon
* Tournedos
* Filet Steak
* Ch√Ęteaubriand
* Bifteck

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Mona,
Please don't put tahini in the yogurt sauce! We never ever use tahini
for Iskender kebap. I think this might be another version of Iskender Kebap but not in Turkey:) If you don't have tomato paste use crushed tomatoes in a can. Or grate a few tomatoes and add salt and pepper (a little bit), cook and make your own home made tomato sauce:)

 
At 11:33 PM, Anonymous Mona said...

Hi Binnur :
I will try it and tell you soon < thank you :):)

 
At 2:12 AM, Blogger Shantanu said...

Hi Binnur,
I left you a message in another post asking about this kebab - please ignore that message.

Quick question for this kebab - is it possible to substitute beef for some other meat. Its not very easy to find tenderloin in India but lamb/mutton is easily available. Also, is there a special way the meat should be cut/prepared prior to working on it ?

Also - you are on my favorites list now. I love your website.

Thanks a ton

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Shantanu,
Thank you:) Sure you can substitute beef with lamb. But you know lamb has more fat, trim all the fat first. You may not even use ground beef part of the preparation. Freeze the trimmed lamb piece, approx. 500
gr. the rest is the same. Enjoy it:)

 
At 5:02 PM, Blogger aeron said...

Thanks for such a great recipe. I'm going to try this soon, but just for some clarification, when you say "place in the middle of the two pieces of tenderloin", do you mean like, sandwich the ground beef in between the tenderloin? also would you be able to explain the importance of leaving the mixture frozen overnight? thankyou.

 
At 8:27 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Aeron,
Yes it is a sandwich like you said:) If you don't freeze it, it won't be one piece and also you will not be able to cut them nicely. There is ground beef in the middle.

 
At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Harry said...

Hi, when i was in Turkey, for one day i went to Soke, it was beautiful and i saw not one tourist!!! Everyone was Turkish! We found this small restaurant, unfortunately we had language communication problems so i just asked for anything!! And they gave us this kebab, it was amazing. But, is it just tomato sauce? or is there spices in it? I remember it was quite spiced.
Thanks
Harry

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Harry,
Traditional Iskender Kebap doesn't have any hot tomato sauce. If the tomato sauce was hot it should be the chef's special:) Or maybe the chef added some hot pepper into the melted butter!

 
At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Amanda said...

my name is amanda and i am 19. my partner, cengiz, is turkish and loves his food! as i enjoy cooking, i like to try as many new recipes as possible. although i must admit, ive never tried anything turkish!

he loves iskander but doesnt have it very often. the only place near to where we live that serves it is a beautiful authentic restaurant but it is expensive to go out to dinner on a regular basis.

i have decided to try and cook him an original turkish meal and have found your website extremeely helpful! your website has been amazing and i now have lots of ideas. (has been bookmarked and will be re-visitng for more ideas!) you wouldnt believe how difficult it has been finding a recipe for iskander!

i hope all goes well... im sure it will! :)

 
At 10:19 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Amanda,
Turks love to have their traditional dishes, especially Kebabs:D Do not worry about the result. If you follow the recipe step by step, your partner will have a very tasty Iskender Kebab:) If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me, love to help:)
Sevgilerimle,

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger constance said...

In Istanbul, 1973(!) I had a yogurtlu kebab. Never got over this fabulous dish, never found it again anywhere either. All those ingredients blended so perfectly. PLEASE is there a recipe for that -preferably for somebody who is still learning to cook :-)

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Robbie said...

In the mid 80's I was in the US Air Force stationed in Turkey. One of the highlights of my visit was when we went into Bursa to shop and eat. We had a little cafe that we always went to the served the best Iskender Kabob. I remember that they served it with small grilled pepper. It was always exciting to eat the peppers because you never knew when you were going to get heat and when you weren't. Are the peppers a part of the Iskender Kabob plate or do you think that was a little twist that cafe added? I believe that traditionally, Bursa was the birth place of the Iskender Kabob.

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Robbie,
Yes, Bursa is the birth place of Iskender kebab. And traditionally grilled sivri biber should be placed on top of the Iskender kebab:)

 
At 8:37 PM, Anonymous rhonda said...

can you use mixture of Salca and tomato paste together , i remember when in Turkey I ate this and was wonderful but never knew nme until now .

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Rhonda,
Tomato Salca (Domates Salcasi) means tomato paste and Red Pepper Salca (Kirmizi Biber Salcasi) means red pepper paste in Turkish. We generally call tomato paste (domates salcasi) just 'salca' in Turkiye. Tomato Paste (salca) is already in the sauce:)
Take care,

 
At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Aalya said...

Great recipe I am going to try it later this week - I just had a question if you didn't want to use the tenderloin (expensive cut of meat) is there any other meat you can substitue?? Or do you really have to use the tenderloin??

Cok tesekurlur

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Meagan,
You can use any kind of tick cut beef for this recipe. At the end, the taste will be the same with tomato sauce, yogurt and butter:)
Afiyet olsun!

 
At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Sian said...

Hi there, the kebab for this recipe is sitting in my freezer at the moment and I can't wait to have a look at it tonight, I think it will be yummy! My partner and I both love Iskender so to make our own will be interesting :) I'm curious to see how the two types of meat will be - does the ground beef somehow fuse together with the tenderloin around it? Or is it a separate piece still that will be cut up separately when making the small pieces?

Thanks for the recipes! :)

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi,
The ground beef between the tenderloins will stay as one piece after sliced and cooked:)

 
At 3:50 AM, Blogger Malbatt said...

I tried Iskender Kebab in Bursa and Istanbul. I liked the one in Bursa the most.

 
At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

merhaba binur hanim
pleas i want to ask you about the ground beef shall i make it round like a disk,and i didn't understand how to put the ground beef in the middel of the two tenderloin do u mean to put the beef over one tenderloin and cover it with the another one would u pleas put a photo
and for the tomato paste in my cuntry we squeez tomato in summer and let it dry under the sun until it thick can i use this paste
i fineshed the tarhana powder and i cooked some 'it was yummmy
thank you very much
sousou

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Merhaba Sevgili Sousou,
Put one tenderloin on the counter, then put the ground beef over it, then cover the ground beef with the second tenderloin. I mean you will make a sandwich with the ground beef in between two tenderloins. Yes, you can use the tomato paste. Just add some water until it has the right consistency:)
I am glad you liked Tarhana Soup:)
Take care,

 
At 2:22 AM, Anonymous Azhar Farooq said...

Dear Binnur,

I come frm dubai and ate iskander kabab at a Turkish joint.It was yummy! But i have 2 questions to ask:
1. your recipe doesn't use cumin powder and garlic paste....does we have to avoid or we cn put these 2 ingredients?
2. Also small pieces of bread were present together with the shredded meat inside the iskander.......what was that?

Please answer cz i'm eagerly awaiting to make them.

 
At 5:11 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi,
Traditionally there is no cumin or garlic in Iskender Kebab. If you wish to add the ingredients that you asked for is totally up to you:)
Spread the shredded beef over the Pide (pita bread) pieces.
Sooner or later I always answer all the mails and comments:)

 
At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Azhar Farooq said...

Thanks Binnur for your prompt reply. I avoided cumin pwdr and garlic paste. But i made it without the Pita bread as i dnt know whr to find it in Dubai!

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Azhar,
You can check it with the Kebab houses. They should know where you can find it. If you still can not find it you can use diced bread slices.

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger khadija said...

I am going to try this tomorrow! I love love love iskender kebabs...had them last year when I went to turkey.
I love your website, it's awesome! thanks for all the great recipes...will definitely try more after this coz my family loves turkish food :)

 
At 1:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had Iksender Kebab when I was in Bursa and Istanbul last year and I loved them. I thought that Iksender was the name of the restaurant, not the kebab itself. Anyways, the kebab I had looked more like sliced meat, like a Gyro, not ground beef. I guess I am just a bit confused by the recipe. Do you put the ground beef between the tenderloin, freeze, and then slice them together?? I would love to make this for my family, but I am very confused. And I also had hot butter poured over the top with mine and no tomato sauce. Which was is the traditional style, or is it personal choice??

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

HI,
I never had before Iskender Kebab without tomato sauce:) Please follow the recipe don't be confused you will see it is going to be perfect. Please also read the answers that I wrote under the comments.

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Seja said...

Hi Binnur, thanks for your recipes. I tried the mixed kebab bursa in our local take-away in Scotland, but they make it with a white yogurt sauce and no tomato sauce. Do you have any idea how to make this?
Thanks again!

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi,
It is a plain Turkish Yogurt. If you like you can add 1-2 mashed (with salt) garlic cloves in it.

 
At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Seja said...

Alright I thought it was an actual sauce. Thanks very much for your help Binnur :)

 

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