Yotam Ottolenghi’s kebab recipes | Food


Unlike families, to misquote the opening line of a famous Russian novel,, every happy kebab is delicious in its own way. There are countless variations around the globe, but they’re all based around a fatty, juicy, unctuous piece of meat on a skewer and a set of condiments that are ideally matched to it, as well as to each other. Today’s dish was dreamed up at a Turkish restaurant in north London where the meat is robust and generously flavoured, and the condiments – rich, sharp and splendidly complex – are fit for a (very happy) sultan.

Lamb and beef kebabs

Thanks to their high fat content, you can smell good kebabs cooking from a great distance. These are no exception, so a strong extractor or an outdoor grill will serve you well. Working the meat in a mixer for a few minutes makes it firmer and chewier, in a good way.

If you can, serve these with the sweet-and-sour onions and roast potatoes below. For me, that’s a dreamy combination, but if you’re looking to save yourself some work, a simple chopped salad, pitta and Greek yoghurt or tahini sauce will be absolutely fine, too.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s lamb and beef kebabs.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s lamb and beef kebabs.

Prep 10 min
Chill 30 min
Cook 45 min
Makes 8, to serve 4

1 red pepper, stem and seeds discarded, flesh roughly chopped
½ onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
350g lamb mince (at least 15-20% fat)
350g beef mince (at least 15-20% fat)
45g beef suet, coarsely grated
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and finely crushed in a mortar
1½ tsp sumac
1½ tsp aleppo chilli flakes
Salt and black pepper
8 x 30cm metal skewers (or wooden skewers soaked in water for an hour)

Pulse the pepper, onion and garlic in a food processor a few times until very finely chopped but not pureed. Set aside, draining off any excess liquid that might have accumulated.

Put the lamb, beef, suet, spices, blitzed vegetables and two teaspoons of salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached. Work on medium speed until the mix starts sticking to the sides of the bowl – about a minute. Add a tablespoon of ice-cold water and mix for another five minutes, until you have a sticky mass. Chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight, if you’re getting ahead).

Divide the mixture into eight balls of about 120g each. With a small bowl of cold water beside you, wet your hands and form the kebab mixture around the skewers, distributing it evenly until you have kofta about 24cm long x 2½cm thick. Smooth out any holes or tears, then place on an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper (refrigerate if you’re not cooking them straight away).

Put a well-greased griddle pan on a high heat. Once hot, grill the kofta in two batches, until charred on the outside and just cooked through (adjust the heat as necessary) – about eight to 10 minutes a batch. Put the grilled kebabs directly on top of the onions (see the recipe below), if making, so the juices drip on to the onions (or just put them on a large platter), and serve immediately.

Sweet-and-sour onion petals

These onions, swimming in a tart pomegranate syrup, are served in many Turkish restaurants with grilled meats, because they cut through the fattiness like a knife. They’re also great on their own, with feta or young goat’s cheese crumbled on top.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet-and-sour onion petals.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s sweet-and-sour onion petals.

Prep 12 min
Cook 35 min
Serves 4 as a side

500g golf-ball-sized red onions (about 12), peeled and halved lengthways
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper
400ml 100% pomegranate juice
3-4 tbsp chives, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. In a large bowl, toss the onions with two tablespoons of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Transfer to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until softened and charred, then leave to cool.

While the onions are roasting, bring the pomegranate juice to a boil in a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Turn down the heat, then simmer for about 12 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to about 70ml and is the consistency of a loose maple syrup. Leave to cool; it will thicken as it sits. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the chives with the remaining 45ml oil and a good pinch of salt.

Pour the pomegranate syrup on to a large platter with a lip, and swirl it around to cover most of the plate. Use your hands loosely to separate the onions into individual petals, then scatter them haphazardly over the syrup. Spoon over the chive oil and serve with the grilled kebabs (see previous recipe).

Roast potatoes with aïoli and buttered pine nuts

Kebab-shop chips with mayo are the inspiration here. These are perfect alongside my kebabs and the sweet-and-sour onions, but they also work in any context that calls for roast potatoes or a mayo-based potato salad, because they’re a hybrid of the two. There’s a generous sauce-to-potato ratio, which is exactly what you want with a kebab. If you can’t get baby new potatoes, use regular new potatoes and cut them into three or four slices each.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s roast potatoes with aïoli and buttered pine nuts.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s roast potatoes with aïoli and buttered pine nuts.

Prep 10 min
Cook 50 min
Serves 4 as a side

750g baby new potatoes, cut in half lengthways
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1½ tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped

For the garlic aïoli
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
100ml olive oil
100ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
75g Greek-style yoghurt
For the pine nuts
30g unsalted butter
20g pine nuts
¼ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/465F/gas 9. Put the potatoes and two teaspoons of salt in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by about 4cm. Bring to a boil on a medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook for six minutes, or until they’re almost cooked through but retain a slight bite. Drain and pat dry, then transfer to an oven tray lined with greaseproof paper and toss with the oil, a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Roast, stirring once or twice, for 35 minutes, or until deeply golden, then stir through the parsley.

Meanwhile, make the aïoli. Put the garlic, mustard, whole egg, egg yolk and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in the small bowl of a food processor, and blitz to combine – about 10 seconds. With the motor running, drizzle in both oils in a slow, steady stream, and mix until emulsified and mayonnaise-like in consistency. Scrape into a bowl, and stir in the lemon juice and yoghurt.

For the pine nuts, melt the butter in a small saute pan on a medium heat. Add the pine nuts and fry, turning occasionally, until golden – about three to four minutes. Stir through the paprika, season, then tip into a small bowl.To serve, spread the aïoli on a shallow, round platter, top with the warm potatoes, and scatter over the pine nuts and their butter.

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