Adana-style kebabs

Adana-style kebabs

Adana kebabi

Steven Joyce

The grill masters – usta – of the city of Adana in southern Turkey are famous for cooking the best kebabs. True Adana kebabs are so fiercely protected that they have recently been given a Controlled Designation of Origin by the Turkish patents office. You can easily find delicious Adana-style kebabs in Istanbul too, where they are made to similarly exacting standards: with hand-minced lamb, lamb’s tail fat, sweet red pepper and salt plus, occasionally, garlic and chilli too, moulded into sausage shapes and impaled on long skewers before being cooked over charcoal. (Urfa kebabs are less spicy.)


Quantity Ingredient
500g minced fatty lamb
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon Quick red pepper paste
or 1-2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and very finely chopped
or 1/4 red pepper, deseeded and very finely chopped
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
pinch pul biber or mild chilli flakes
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
4 Lavaş
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in to 8 pieces
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into 8 pieces
Quick red pepper paste
sumac onions
flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Garlic yoghurt, to serve


  1. Mix together the lamb, onion, salt, biber salçası/red chilli/red pepper, parsley, chilli flakes and garlic clove and knead them together with your hands. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Preheat the grill to maximum. Warm the flatbreads under the grill or in a low oven and keep warm.
  2. Divide the kebab meat into 4 portions. Begin forming the meat around the skewer: take a small handful of the meat and form into an oblong. Slide it along the skewer to the top and squeeze it gently but firmly around the metal to form a sausage shape around the skewer.
  3. Once it has adhered to the skewer, take another handful of meat and wrap it around the skewer so that it joins to the first sausage-shaped ball of meat. Continue to do this until you’ve used up a quarter of the meat and formed a sausage all the way down the skewer. Repeat with all 4 skewers.
  4. The peppers taste best if they cook with the meat juices dripping down onto them, so place them in the grill pan, underneath the rack, or if easier, use a wide oven tray and rest the skewers across it, balancing on the rim. Grill for 4–5 minutes, or until browned, then turn the skewers over and cook for a further 4–5 minutes until the meat is cooked through. You may need to turn or remove the peppers too if they begin to burn.
  5. To serve, smear a little pepper paste onto a warm flatbread, if using. Slide the kebab off the skewer and place it in the middle of the bread. Scatter over some of the sumac onions, a couple of pieces of grilled pepper and some parsley. Finish with a dollop of garlic yoghurt. Roll up and eat immediately.


  • Although these kebabs are fine made with leaner minced lamb from a supermarket, they are far better made with rich fatty lamb from a butcher. Somewhat sacrilegiously, I add grated onion to mine. You can also barbecue Adana-style kebabs: cook them raised off the heat and turn more frequently to ensure they cook through without the outside burning. Brush the peppers with oil and barbecue alongside, turning once or twice.
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