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Delicious Iskender Kebab Recipe: A Turkish Culinary Delight

Iskender Kebab

Are you a fan of Turkish cuisine? If so, you’ve probably come across the mouthwatering Iskender Kebab. This delectable dish is a true delight for meat lovers, featuring tender slices of lamb or beef served over a bed of warm pita bread, topped with a rich tomato sauce and finished off with a dollop of tangy yogurt. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making Iskender Kebab from scratch, allowing you to recreate this flavorful Turkish specialty in the comfort of your own kitchen.



Iskender Kebab, also known as İskender Döner or Bursa Kebab, is a famous Turkish dish that originated in the city of Bursa in the late 19th century. The kebab is named after its inventor, Iskender Efendi, who was a skilled chef and restaurateur.

Legend has it that Iskender Efendi was inspired by the traditional method of cooking meat over an open flame on a vertical spit, known as “döner kebab.” He sought to create a unique and flavorful dish using this cooking technique. Iskender Efendi started experimenting with various combinations of meat, bread, and sauces to achieve a harmonious blend of flavors.

The creation of Iskender Kebab involved a careful selection of ingredients and a precise cooking process. Iskender Efendi used succulent slices of lamb or beef, marinated with a special blend of spices and seasonings to enhance the taste of the meat. The meat was then skewered and slowly roasted on a vertical spit, allowing the juices to infuse and the flavors to intensify.

To accompany the tender meat, Iskender Efendi decided to serve it over a bed of freshly baked pita bread. This bread acted as a base, soaking up the savory juices and enhancing the overall texture of the dish. To further elevate the flavor profile, Iskender Efendi created a delicious tomato-based sauce, infused with garlic, butter, and aromatic spices.

Iskender Kebab gained immense popularity in Bursa and quickly spread to other regions of Turkey. It became a staple in Turkish cuisine and a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The dish’s success led Iskender Efendi to establish a restaurant in Bursa, where he served his signature kebab along with other traditional Turkish delicacies.

Today, Iskender Kebab is considered a culinary gem and an iconic representation of Turkish cuisine. It has made its way onto the menus of Turkish restaurants worldwide, captivating food enthusiasts with its rich flavors and satisfying combination of meat, bread, and sauce.


Marinating the meat1 hour
Preparing the tomato sauce20 minutes
Baking the pita bread15 minutes
Roasting the meat on a spit2 hours
Slicing the meat10 minutes
Assembling the Iskender Kebab10 minutes
Total Cooking and Preparation TimeApproximately 3 hours

Please note that the cooking and preparation times provided are approximate and may vary depending on individual cooking equipment and techniques. It’s always recommended to follow the specific instructions in the recipe you are using for the most accurate results.


Lamb or beef (sliced)400 grams
Greek yogurt1 cup
Pita bread2 pieces
Tomatoes (ripe)2
Tomato paste2 tablespoons
Garlic cloves2
Butter2 tablespoons
Olive oil2 tablespoons
Red wine vinegar1 tablespoon
Ground cumin1 teaspoon
Paprika1 teaspoon
Dried oregano1 teaspoon
SaltTo taste
Black pepperTo taste
Fresh parsley (chopped, for garnish)Optional

Please note that the ingredient quantities mentioned are for a 2-person serving. Adjust the amounts accordingly if you need to serve more or fewer people.


Step 1: Marinating the Meat

  1. Slice the lamb or beef into thin, tender pieces.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sliced meat with ground cumin, paprika, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Massage the spices into the meat to ensure even distribution.
  4. Cover the bowl and let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, allowing the flavors to infuse.

Step 2: Preparing the Tomato Sauce

  1. Finely chop the ripe tomatoes and set them aside.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  3. Add minced garlic to the melted butter and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
  6. Simmer the sauce over low heat for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until it thickens.

Step 3: Baking the Pita Bread

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Place the pita bread on a baking sheet and brush both sides lightly with olive oil.
  3. Bake the pita bread in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it becomes crispy and golden brown.
  4. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Step 4: Roasting the Meat on a Spit

  1. Preheat a grill or a broiler to medium-high heat.
  2. Thread the marinated meat onto skewers, ensuring they are evenly spaced.
  3. Place the skewers on the grill or under the broiler and cook for approximately 2 hours, rotating occasionally to ensure even cooking and browning.
  4. Once the meat is cooked to your desired level of doneness, remove the skewers from the heat and let them rest for a few minutes.
  5. Carefully slice the roasted meat into thin strips.

Step 5: Assembling the Iskender Kebab

  1. Arrange the crispy pita bread on a serving platter.
  2. Place the sliced meat over the pita bread, creating an even layer.
  3. Drizzle the tomato sauce generously over the meat.
  4. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley, if desired.

Step 6: Serving Suggestions

  1. Iskender Kebab is traditionally served with a side of yogurt and a fresh salad.
  2. You can accompany it with grilled vegetables or roasted potatoes for a complete and satisfying meal.

Enjoy your homemade Iskender Kebab!

Equipment Required

Nutrition Information

Serving Size1 person
Calories450 kcal
Total Fat25g
Saturated Fat10g
Trans Fat0g
Total Carbohydrate26g
Dietary Fiber3g
Vitamin A15%
Vitamin C10%

Please note that the nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary based on specific ingredients used and portion sizes. It’s always advisable to refer to specific product labels or consult a healthcare professional for precise nutritional information based on your dietary needs.


  1. Choose lean cuts of lamb or beef for tender and flavorful meat slices.
  2. If you prefer a spicier flavor, add a pinch of chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the tomato sauce.
  3. For an extra burst of flavor, grill the tomatoes before adding them to the sauce.
  4. If you don’t have access to a grill or broiler, you can cook the marinated meat in a skillet over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through.
  5. To achieve an authentic touch, lightly toast the pita bread on a stovetop or grill before baking it in the oven.
  6. If you’re short on time, you can use store-bought pita bread instead of baking it from scratch.
  7. Experiment with different meat options such as chicken or even a combination of meats to suit your taste preferences.
  8. Feel free to customize the spice blend by adding additional herbs and spices like thyme, sumac, or chili powder.
  9. Serve the Iskender Kebab immediately after assembling to ensure the bread stays crisp and the flavors remain vibrant.
  10. Don’t forget to let the roasted meat rest before slicing to retain its juiciness.

Pros & Cons

✅ Bursting with flavor❌ Requires marinating time
✅ Delicious blend of meat and sauce❌ Lengthy cooking process
✅ Authentic Turkish dish❌ May require special ingredients
✅ Customizable with variations❌ High in calories and fat
✅ Showcases the mastery of Turkish cuisine❌ Not suitable for vegetarians


Iskender Kebab, a delightful Turkish specialty, is a true feast for the senses. With tender slices of marinated lamb or beef, a rich tomato sauce, and a touch of tangy yogurt, this dish brings together the best flavors of Turkish cuisine. Whether you’re a fan of Mediterranean dishes or simply looking to explore new culinary experiences, Iskender Kebab is a recipe worth trying.

The combination of succulent meat, warm pita bread, and the aromatic tomato sauce creates a harmony of flavors that will leave you craving for more. The process of marinating the meat, roasting it to perfection, and assembling the kebab allows you to immerse yourself in the art of Turkish cooking.

While the recipe requires some time and effort, the result is well worth it. The burst of flavors, the tender texture of the meat, and the satisfaction of creating an authentic Turkish dish from scratch are experiences that will be cherished.

Whether you decide to enjoy Iskender Kebab for a special occasion or as a delightful weeknight meal, its versatility allows you to customize it to suit your preferences. From variations in the meat selection to experimenting with different sauces and toppings, you can add your own creative touch to make it truly yours.

So, why not embark on a culinary adventure and indulge in the exquisite flavors of Iskender Kebab? Gather the ingredients, follow the steps, and savor the taste of Turkey right in your own kitchen. We guarantee that once you take that first bite, you’ll be transported to the vibrant streets of Bursa, where this culinary masterpiece was born.


  • 1. 🌍 International Recognition
    • Iskender Kebab has gained worldwide recognition for its delectable flavors. In 2019, the Gaziantep City of Gastronomy Network, a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, included Iskender Kebab as one of the “Gastronomy Cities of the World.” Its mouthwatering taste has transcended borders and captivated taste buds globally.
  • 2. 🔥 The Fire Roasting Tradition
    • The traditional method of roasting the meat for Iskender Kebab on a vertical spit is called “döner kebab.” The term “döner” translates to “turning” or “rotating” in Turkish, referring to the way the meat rotates and cooks slowly over an open flame. This method ensures a tender and succulent texture, allowing the flavors to develop beautifully.
  • 3. 🍅 Tomato Sauce Secret
    • The rich and flavorful tomato sauce is a key component of Iskender Kebab. One interesting fact is that the original recipe used tomato paste as the base for the sauce. The use of tomato paste helps enhance the intensity and depth of the tomato flavor, making it a true star in every bite of Iskender Kebab.
  • 4. 🎉 Birthplace in Bursa
    • Iskender Kebab originated in the city of Bursa, Turkey. Bursa is not only famous for its historical sites but also for its culinary heritage. Iskender Kebab was invented by Iskender Efendi, a talented chef, and his dish quickly gained popularity among locals and tourists alike. Today, Bursa remains a popular destination for those seeking an authentic Iskender Kebab experience.
  • 5. 📸 Instagram-Worthy Presentation
    • Iskender Kebab is not only a delight for the taste buds but also a feast for the eyes. Its visually appealing presentation features beautifully arranged meat slices atop crispy pita bread, generously drizzled with the vibrant tomato sauce and garnished with a dollop of creamy yogurt. It’s no wonder that Iskender Kebab is a favorite subject for food photography enthusiasts on social media platforms.


Is Iskender Kebab spicy?

Iskender Kebab is not inherently spicy. However, you can adjust the level of heat by adding chili flakes or a dash of hot sauce according to your taste preferences.

Can I use chicken instead of lamb or beef in Iskender Kebab?

While Iskender Kebab traditionally uses lamb or beef, you can experiment with chicken as a substitute. Ensure the chicken is tender and well-marinated for optimal flavor.

What is the best way to serve Iskender Kebab?

Iskender Kebab is traditionally served with a side of yogurt and a fresh salad. You can also add grilled vegetables or roasted potatoes for a complete and satisfying meal.

Can I make Iskender Kebab vegetarian-friendly?

Yes, you can create a vegetarian version of Iskender Kebab by substituting the meat with grilled vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers. Adjust the seasonings and spices accordingly for a delightful vegetarian twist.

How long does it take to marinate the meat?

It is recommended to marinate the meat for approximately 1 hour to allow the flavors to infuse. However, you can extend the marinating time if desired for a more intense flavor.

Can I use store-bought pita bread instead of baking it from scratch?

Yes, if you’re short on time or prefer convenience, you can use store-bought pita bread as a substitute for the homemade version. Ensure to lightly toast it before assembling the kebab for added texture.

Can I prepare Iskender Kebab in advance?

It’s best to assemble and serve Iskender Kebab immediately after cooking for optimal taste and texture. However, you can prepare the components in advance and assemble them just before serving to save time.

Can I freeze leftover Iskender Kebab?

While it’s not recommended to freeze the assembled Iskender Kebab, you can freeze the cooked meat slices separately for future use. Thaw and reheat them gently before serving.

What type of yogurt is best for Iskender Kebab?

Traditional Greek yogurt works best for Iskender Kebab due to its creamy texture and tangy flavor. However, you can use any plain yogurt as a substitute if Greek yogurt is not available.

Where can I find Iskender Kebab outside of Turkey?

Iskender Kebab can be found in Turkish restaurants worldwide. Explore local Turkish eateries or Middle Eastern restaurants in your area for an authentic taste of Iskender Kebab.