Testi (mug in Turkish) Kebap (meat in Turkish) is basically a stew of meat, tomatoes and some vegetables. There is a high proportion of meat in this stew.
The traditional method of cooking is to place the ingredients inside a sealed clay jug. The clay jug is then placed in the coals at the bottom of a tandir, which is a large clay pot oven buried in the earth. This is a traditional meal from Cappadocia.
When cooked, the still sealed clay jug is then delivered to your table, after having been left for 5 minutes when removed from the coals. The neck of the clay jug is then gently broken in front of you and the “lid” removed. Luckily the waiter performs this potentially embarrassing task!
Remarkably, it makes a clean, horizontal break. You then serve yourselves from the remaining intact remnants of the clay jug. How cool is that?
There are various sizes of the clay jugs. The normal size is one that comfortably feeds 2 to 3 people. For larger parties, there are larger clay jugs that will feed more people.
The stew is therefore extremely hot on arrival at your table, so there is no need to rush. You can linger while you eat knowing that there is more warm stew to go back to when you want your seconds or thirds.
The stew is gloriously rich, with the juices of the meat, tomatoes and vegetables having melded within their sealed container.
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We tried this delicious dish twice when in Turkey.
The first time was in a small restaurant called Harem Cafe & Restaurant in Istanbul, not far from the Blue Mosque. There there were 4 options:
combination (all 3).
We went for the combination. It was a dish for 2 and it was good. It came with rice and there was plenty there for 2 people. Cost was 60 TL ($23 USD).
We knew Cappadocia was the home of Testi Kebap, an area that is famous for its pottery and ceramics. So our hotel in Goreme, recommended the Orient Restaurant, also in Goreme. Here Testi Kebap was served as a single serve. Cost was 30 TL ($12 USD). There were 2 options:
beef and lamb
chicken and vegetables
We went for the beef and lamb. It was gloriously rich and there was a high proportion of meat. It was better than the Harem version.
We had another great dish at the Orient Restaurant called Sak Tava. This is another traditional dish from the Cappadocia area and I have to say that it was just as good as the Testi Kebap. So we heartily recommend the Orient Restaurant.
So as you can imagine cooking Testi Kebap utilizing the traditional clay pot is a fairly cool party trick. It is possible to source the clay jug for its one time use, but remember, it needs to go into the embers of a fire or underground oven containing coals if you want the full traditional approach. Here is more information about how to buy clay jugs to cook testi kebap in the traditional method.
But don’t worry you don’t need to go to the extent of finding a disposable clay pot to achieve a great result at home. With this recipe you are all set with a good casserole dish and an oven!
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Despite the excitement of the traditional method of cooking and presenting the dish to the table, this is a simple dish to make in the modern kitchen.
This recipe assumes that you are not using a clay casserole dish but an oven-proof one instead, that is heavy-based and can be used to first brown the meat.
This recipe uses beef or lamb or a combination of both. I think the combination works better in a dinner party situation. All the work is up front and there is nothing to do at the end except make some rice. You could also make a simple green salad, if you so desire.
Try to marinate the meat for a minimum of 4 hours. Overnight is even better.
Please let us know what you think.
Put a pinch of sea salt and the rosemary leaves into a mortar. Pound until course. Add to the bowl containing the meat. Add a larger pinch of salt to the mortar and all of the peeled garlic. Pound until a rough paste forms. Add to the meat. Add the pul biber and the ground black pepper to the meat. Drizzle over some olive oil. Stir to combine. Cover the bowl with kitchen wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. Overnight is even better!
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees f (160 c).
Using a heavy-based, oven proof casserole dish, heat half the olive oil over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Remove the onion. Add the remaining olive oil, add the meat and brown lightly on all sides. Add the onions back into the dish with the remaining ingredients. Stir occasionally until the tomatoes break down and start to simmer. Remove from the heat and place a tight fitting lid on the casserole dish.
Place the casserole into the oven for 45 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice (or for paleo use mashed parsnip or mashed cauliflower). Optionally, you can also serve crisped pita bread and a green salad.
Buy good quality stewing meat. I like the combination of beef and lamb. If your butcher does not stock lamb you can buy it from here. We have also seen Australian lamb legs at Costco, perfect for this dish.
For an authentic taste, use pul biber. You can substitute with red chilli flakes.
To peel tomatoes, stab each one 5 or 6 times and place into a bowl of recently boiled water. Carefully remove after 5 minutes and the skin will easily peel off.