Walking amongst the busy sellers in the ancient alleys of Grand Bazaar Turkey, the gorgeous smell hit me. A tiny cramped restaurant (too small to even be called a restaurant) was busy making freshly grilled koftas, placing them in gorgeous bread, sprinkling the meat with spices and herbs, and handing them out to the hungry goers of the bazaar. I just had to have one.
The Ezme salad is a very popular dish in Turkish cuisine. It is served either as an entrée, an accompaniment to a main dish (especially grilled meats) or even by itself. It’s amazingly fresh, and definitely excites ones palate.
As soon as I came back home, I attempted to make them in my kitchen. And the results were brilliant!
500g chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 cup yoghurt
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp all spice
6 large Arabic pita bread
A handful of parsley
A handful of coriander
1 small onion, chopped into thin rings
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of sumac spice
4 medium tomatoes, chopped really well
1 red pepper, chopped well
A handful of parsley, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 green chili, chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon pomegranate syrup
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
To make the chicken kebab:
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken to it, covering it well with the marinade, and place in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour; the longer the better.
When you're done, using metal skewers start piercing the chicken cubes with the skewers and place them on a tray. You will have about 6 skewers.
Put a griddle pan on high heat and drizzle it with olive oil (alternatively you can use an outdoor grill).
When it is extremely hot, place the skewers on the heat. Do not overcrowd them; you can cook them in batches.
Turn the skewers every 30 seconds. Keep your eye on them as you don’t want them to overcook; you want them grilled on the outside but juicy on the inside.
When they have finished cooking, sprinkle the chicken with a pinch of cumin and sumac and place the chicken from each skewer into the pita breads.
Top it with parsley, coriander and onion and roll into a wrap.
Serve alone or accompanied by an Ezme Salad (recipe below).
To make the salad:
Chop the tomatoes really well.
Place them in a bowl with their juices; followed with the pepper, onions, parsley, and chili.
Add the tomato paste, pomegranate syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
It is now ready to serve.
(Note: If you are making it in advance place it in the fridge until ready to serve)
– Recipe and photography by Shaikha Al Ali