August 27, 2011

Tünel, Beyoğlu, Istanbul. June, 2007

The city has neighborhoods, the neighborhoods have sections, the sections have even smaller enclaves. Addresses in Istanbul can be complicated. Not so the invitations to sample the cuisine. All along the pedestrian Istiklal Caddesi, from our start in Tünel Square up to Taksim at the other end, kebap shops, bakeries, street vendors...all serving up a rich roster of, well, Turkish delights. Here at Konak 2 “kebap ve lahmacun salonu,” Iskender is top of the bill. Also known as Yogurtlu kebap and Bursa kebap (from the city in which it was allegedly invented, where it’s generally more expensive and where several Bursa shops wrangle to legally claim its invention, one company going so far as to officially register the name “Iskender” as its own), it’s made from a skewer of marinated grilled lamb cubes, served on a bed of cut up pide bread (puffy, not the flat pita we’re familiar with), topped first with a spiced tomato sauce, then with a butter sauce, then with a garlicky yogurt sauce. Some recipes use beef or chicken, some put the yogurt on the bread before the meat is layered on, but I saw none of those variations during my visit to the City of the World’s Desire. And if you don’t fancy Iskender, look at all the other kebap options on that menu. Eaters, on your mark!

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