Hailing from the Gaziantep region of Turkey, this traditional grilled lamb kebab with smoky eggplant yoghurt is hard to improve on – I’ve just added a few finishing touches to lighten it up a little. It’s important to mince the lamb yourself because not only can you ensure you have the right ratio of good quality meat and fat, it’s also much easier to mould around the skewers. I preheat my charcoal barbecue for at least 2 hours before cooking to get exactly the right temperature. Ideally, the coals should be grey which means they’ll give off enough radiant heat to cook the meat slowly without burning it.
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp biber salçası (Turkish red capsicum paste)
- 1 tsp red pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
- 50 g flaked almonds, toasted
- squeeze of lemon juice
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, torn
- 100 ml tepid milk
- 75 ml tepid water
- 1 tsp fresh yeast
- 100 g plain flour
- 150 g (1 cup) bakers’ flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp black vegetable powder (see Note)
- 3 eggplants
- 200 g natural yoghurt
- ¼ cup picked purslane leaves, (see Note) plus extra, to serve
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250 g lean lamb shoulder
- 50 g lamb tail fat (see Notes)
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp black pul biber
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- 4 flat metal skewers
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1.5 hours
To make the black bread, using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the milk, water and yeast on low speed until the yeast has dissolved. Add the flour, salt and vegetable powder and knead on medium speed for 3-6 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Cover and stand in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Divide the dough in half, then shape into logs or rounds and place on a lightly floured baking tray (or put them in lightly oiled loaf tins if you prefer). Cover and stand for another 30 minutes or until slightly risen, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped on the base. Cool. This can be made a day in advance if you wish.
To make the eggplant yoghurt, prick the eggplants all over with a fork, then cook on a charcoal grill or over a gas flame until charred and blackened all over. Place in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and stand until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggplant, discard the skin, then tear the flesh into long strips and place in bowl. Add the yoghurt and purslane, combine well, then refrigerate until required.
To make the köfte, using the coarsest attachment on a mincer, mince the lamb and fat together. Add the pul biber and garlic, and using your hands, knead until very well combined - the meat should be sticky. Divide the mixture into 4, then using wet hands, mould the mixture around 4 flat metal skewers into a thin barrel shape and season lightly with sea salt. Preheat a charcoal grill or barbecue to medium high. When the coals are grey (see Note) cook the köfte for 3-4 minutes on each side or until just cooked through.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until foaming. Break one loaf of black bread into the pan in coarse pieces and shake for 6-8 minutes or until crisp. Stir in the biber salçası, almonds, pul biber and lemon juice, then add the parsley and remove from the heat.
To serve, carefully slide the köfte off the skewers and cut each into 3. Spread a large dollop of eggplant yoghurt on the base of each plate. Top with the köfte, then scatter with the bread and almond mixture and serve immediately.
• Black vegetable powder is a made from charred vegetable matter and is mainly used as a food colouring in confectionary, baked goods and ice-cream. Available from cake decorating stores and specialist food stores. I add it to the bread purely for aesthetic reasons, but if you can’t find it, just leave it out. The bread will make more than you need but once cooked, will keep frozen for up to 3 months.
• Purslane has long been considered a weed by those unfamiliar with its use as a leafy vegetable. It is valued in Lebanese and Syrian kitchens for its slightly sour and salty taste. If unavailable, use cress leaves instead.
• In Turkey, lamb’s tails are prized for their fat which melts at a lower temperature than the fat from other parts of the animal. This makes it perfect for cooking over charcoal because the fat renders in the same time it takes to cook the meat to perfection. In Australia, lamb’s tails are usually removed while still alive so the fat must be ordered from your butcher well ahead of time.