Skewered lamb’s sweetbreads with cumin, chilli and sumac

Skewered lamb’s sweetbreads with cumin, chilli and sumac

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

Turks are far less squeamish than many about eating every bit of the animal. Kokoreç (grilled intestines) are a popular street snack, while iş kembe çorbası (tripe soup) is a famous hangover cure. Offal butchers are a common sight around the produce markets, with garlands of intestines, sheep’s heads, and every conceivable organ proudly on display.

Sweetbreads are perhaps less of a challenge, and I love them for their creamy texture and delicate flavour. I like to serve them with everyday orzo pilav.

You’ll find the red pepper paste used here in Middle Eastern food stores.


Quantity Ingredient
700g lamb’s sweetbreads, trimmed of surrounding fat
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 stick celery
1/2 onion
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
1 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1 tablespoon hot turkish red pepper paste
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 garlic clove
200g thick natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground white pepper


  1. Soak the sweetbreads overnight in enough milk to cover them.
  2. When ready to cook the sweetbreads, rinse them well, then pat dry and use a sharp knife to trim away any membrane and remaining fat. Put the sweetbreads into a large saucepan with the lemon, celery, onion, cinnamon and cloves, then cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then skim and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the sweetbreads. Leave to cool, then cut into even 2 cm cubes.
  3. Combine the spices, pepper paste and oil in a bowl, then add the sweetbreads and toss gently to coat. Leave for 10 minutes to marinate.
  4. When ready to cook, heat a griddle or barbecue to its highest setting. Thread eight cubes of sweetbread onto each of eight flat skewers. Cook for 20–30 seconds on each side – no more than 2 minutes in total – and season with salt as you go.
  5. When ready to serve, crush the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt, then whisk with the yoghurt and extra-virgin olive oil to make a dressing. Taste and season with more salt and the white pepper if required. Serve the sweetbread skewers on a pilav with the dressing on the side.
Middle Eastern
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again