Iskender a la 'nita
Anita Donohoe

For decades, I’ve wanted to make Iskender (Turkish for Alexander) kebab at home but was foiled because I don’t have a doner kebab spit. A recent visit to Turkey and a dish of Iskender kebab at a restaurant in Bursa made me want to try to recreate the flavor of the dish. According to my palate, I succeeded!




2 lbs ground lamb or beef
2 medium grated onions
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1 level teaspoon thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Grate the onions on a cheese grater, or liquefy in a blender. Add the onion juice with its pulp and all the other ingredients to the meat and knead thoroughly. If you don’t want to knead it by hand, put it into a food processor until it becomes a paste. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Form into hamburgers and grill or fry in olive oil. Thinly slice the cooked meat patties when you are ready to prepare the Iskender plate.

Cacik (garlic sauce)
1 quart plain whole yoghurt
(I use French Village from Trader Joe’s)
4 – 6 large cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
(I use Santini from Trader Joe’s)

Line a strainer with a clean dishtowel--make sure it was laundered without fabric softener--and place it over a bowl to catch the whey; it is good to drink! Empty the container of yoghurt into the cloth. In a couple of hours, the drained yoghurt will have thickened. Crush the garlic with some salt into a large bowl and mash with a fork. Empty the yoghurt from the cloth into the bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, then mix with a fork until smooth.

Tomato Sauce
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
(I use unflavored Contadina crushed tomatoes)
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 bay leaves
lots of freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of salt

Put all the ingredients into a pan and simmer while you cook the meat, or for about 15 minutes.



Iskender a la 'nita

A main ingredient in this flavorful dish is pide. You can use pita bread, but I use plain nan, a Persian flat bread, from Trader Joe’s. Warm it in the oven or a toaster and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Melted butter
Melt a stick of butter in a pan until it is sizzling.

Now it is time to put the plate together. Line the bottom with pieces of warm pide. Spoon some of the hot tomato sauce onto the pide. Add the warm cooked meat slices on top of the tomato sauce, then spoon a few dollops of room-temperature cacik over the meat. Top off with a drizzle of the sizzling butter.

Afiyet olsun!