Kebap, also known as kebab, is a popular dish that has a rich history and a long-standing culinary tradition. It is believed to have originated in the Middle East and has since spread to many parts of the world, including Turkey, where it is an integral part of Turkish cuisine.
The exact origin of kebap is debated, as there are different theories and claims about its history. Some believe that the concept of skewered meat cooked over an open flame originated in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) or the Middle East, where soldiers would skewer meat and cook it over their campfires. Others attribute the origins of kebap to the Turkic nomadic tribes who cooked meat on their swords or spears over an open flame as they traveled across the Central Asian steppes.
The word “kebap” itself is derived from the Arabic word “kabāb” which means “to burn” or “to char,” referring to the cooking method of grilling or roasting meat over open flames. Over time, kebap became popular in many cultures and regions, including the Ottoman Empire, which encompassed modern-day Turkey and parts of the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Europe.
In Turkey, kebap has a significant cultural and culinary heritage. Turkish kebaps are known for their unique flavors, cooking techniques, and presentation. Different regions of Turkey have their own variations of kebap, each with its own distinct characteristics. Some popular types of Turkish kebap include:
- Shish Kebap: This is one of the most well-known types of kebap, made with marinated chunks of meat (usually lamb or beef) that are skewered and grilled over charcoal or an open flame.
- Döner Kebap: Also known as “gyro” or “shawarma” in other parts of the world, döner kebap is made by stacking thin slices of meat (often lamb or beef) on a vertical rotisserie, which is then slowly cooked and shaved off as it rotates, resulting in a flavorful and tender meat.
- Adana Kebap: Named after the city of Adana in southern Turkey, this kebap is made with minced meat (usually lamb or beef) mixed with spices, shaped into long, flat skewers, and grilled over high heat.
- İskender Kebap: Originating in the city of Bursa, İskender kebap consists of döner kebap meat served on a bed of pita bread, topped with tomato sauce, melted butter, and yogurt, creating a unique and delicious combination of flavors.
Kebap is often served with various accompaniments such as rice, bulgur, bread, vegetables, and yogurt, and is enjoyed as a main course in Turkish cuisine. It is also commonly eaten as street food, in restaurants, and at social gatherings, and has become a symbol of Turkish culinary culture both domestically and internationally.
Today, kebap is not only popular in Turkey but has also gained widespread popularity in many other countries, with countless variations and adaptations to local cuisines. It continues to be a beloved dish for meat lovers around the world, with its rich history and diverse flavors.
Where to eat kebap in Turkey?
Turkey is known for its delicious kebap, and you can find numerous places to enjoy this culinary delight throughout the country. Here are some popular destinations in Turkey where you can find excellent kebap:
- Istanbul: As Turkey’s largest city and a melting pot of diverse culinary traditions, Istanbul is a great place to savor various types of kebap. You can find kebap restaurants and street vendors throughout the city, with areas like Sultanahmet, Taksim, and Kadikoy known for their excellent kebap options.
- Gaziantep: Located in southeastern Turkey, Gaziantep is known as the culinary capital of Turkey, and its kebap is highly regarded. You can find many specialized kebap restaurants in Gaziantep, offering traditional kebap varieties such as beyran kebap, lahmacun, and more.
- Adana: Adana, a city in southern Turkey, is famous for its Adana kebap, a spicy and flavorful minced meat kebap. Adana is known to have some of the best Adana kebap restaurants in Turkey, where you can enjoy this regional specialty.
- Urfa: Another city in southeastern Turkey, Urfa is known for its Urfa kebap, which features spiced minced meat patties cooked on a griddle. Urfa is known for its unique kebap flavor and is a must-visit destination for kebap enthusiasts.
- Bursa: Bursa, located in northwest Turkey, is famous for its İskender kebap, a specialty dish that features döner kebap served on a bed of pita bread, topped with tomato sauce, melted butter, and yogurt. Bursa is the birthplace of İskender kebap, and you can find many restaurants in the city that specialize in this delicious dish.
- Antalya: Antalya, a popular tourist destination on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, is known for its delicious kebap offerings. You can find kebap restaurants and street vendors throughout the city, offering a variety of kebap options, including lamb, beef, and chicken kebaps.
- Konya: Konya, located in central Turkey, is known for its etli ekmek, a type of Turkish flatbread topped with minced meat and spices, similar to a kebap. Konya is famous for its etli ekmek, and you can find many restaurants in the city that serve this regional specialty.
These are just a few examples of destinations in Turkey where you can enjoy delicious kebap. Keep in mind that kebap is widely available throughout Turkey, and you can find kebap restaurants, street vendors, and local eateries in many other cities and towns as well. It’s always a good idea to ask locals or do some research to find recommended kebap places based on your location and preferences.