Turkish Food: Ali Nazik Kebab

Whenever we go to a restaurant advertising an Ottoman kitchen, I always have to order Hünkar Beğendi (it’s a work of genius) while Barry will usually go for the Ali Nazik.

Ali Nazik is an odd one. I’ve sampled this dish at a few restaurants (read, ‘plunged my fork into Barry’s meal’) and it tastes different every time. Do a search on the internet for Ali Nazik recipes or scan through Google images and you’ll see what I mean. Whether this is people adapting the dish to suit their personal tastes or whether the original recipe is not quite set in stone, we’re not sure.

Turkish Food - Ali Nazik

Ali Nazik kebab – chips and rice not necessary

I’ve read recipes for Ali Nazik on the internet in the past and thought, ‘No, you’ve just made Hünkar Beğendi.’ They’re two Ottoman dishes using similar ingredients: lamb (or beef) and aubergine puree.

But, where Hünkar Beğendi uses stewed lamb pieces, Ali Nazik is made with ground meat. It also contains a liberal amount of natural yoghurt. The Ali Nazik in the photo above was served to us when we were in Dalyan a few weeks ago. I’ve never seen the ground meat served from a skewer before (as in the photo) but it really worked.

The main conflict between recipes seems to be the way the yoghurt is served. Some chefs blend the yoghurt into the aubergine puree (as above) to make one thick sauce while others keep the two separate. The yoghurt is served over the aubergine and the ground meat mixture placed over the top.

Barry’s a mixed yoghurt and aubergine person. I prefer my yoghurt and aubergine served as separate ingredients. How would you prefer your Ali Nazik to be served? How do you think it SHOULD be served?

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  1. Thanks for this overview. I’ll vote for having my yogurt separate, since I prefer to vary my tastes with each bite. Next time my family eats out I’ll order the Hünkar Beğendi and make my husband get the Ali Nazik for a scientific comparison…

  2. @ Renee: Hünkar Beğendi wins every time for me! 🙂 Be interested to hear your verdict.

  3. Trying the other person’s dish is always an option. Terrific!

  4. Looks fabulous – even at this time of the morning.

  5. We’re heading to Istanbul tomorrow. Can you recommend any particular restaurants? I’m on the lookout for Hünkar Beğendi!

  6. @ Belinda: Well, it’s rude not too, isn’t it?! 🙂

    @ Italian Notes: Yes, it is good. Looks better at thins time of night, though. 🙂

    @ Renee: We just tend to grab stuff as and when in Istanbul – the amazing street food takes over. There’s a fab blog called Istanbul Eats. If you do a search on there, I’m sure you’ll find good places for Hünkar Beğendi. 🙂

  7. Here in Gaziantep where Alenazik originated it’s served with the yogurt and eggplant puree mixed with grilled (minced lamb and tail fat)lamb kebap on top. The name is a play on words – a local family name Alennazik and Ali Nazik.

  8. @ Anonymous: Thanks for telling us that story. Didn’t know Ali Nazik originated in Gaziantep. We’ve heard a few theories of the story behind Ali Nazik but never that one. Interesting. 🙂

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