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Turkish Food – Kuzu Tandır (Lamb Tandir)

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We’ve been wanting to do a post on the sheer delight that is lamb tandır for a long time but I always forget to take a photo of it whenever we’re at Cin Bal in Kayaköy.

As soon as the tandır arrives at the table, we all dive straight in there; testament to how good this dish is I guess.

When we were at Cin Bal a few days ago with friends, I finally remembered to have my camera ready before our forks did battle in the communal pan, trying to pierce every last morsel of meat.

Lamb Tandır
A highlight of any meal

Unless you’re vegetarian, of course, lamb tandır is a must when you’re in Turkey – just look out for the boards outside restaurants advertising ‘Kuzu Tandır’.

Red meat is not cheap in Turkey but it really is worth treating yourself to this lamb, even if you only get yourself a tiny sample.

Most places sell it by weight, so you can choose the size of your serving. At Cin Bal, we usually order half a kilo between 4 people and eat it along with our meze dishes as a starter.

As you can probably tell from the photo, lamb tandır is lamb shanks that have been cooked very slowly over a period of hours, resulting in soft, tender meat that falls away from the bone.

In days gone by, the lamb was cooked in an underground oven (a tandır) but these days, restaurants are using more conventional ovens.

If you visit Cin Bal, look out for their tandır oven inside the restaurant. They have a huge brick oven that’s heated by coals, built into the wall.

Once the lamb is cooked, it’s stored in iron trays under the oven and then served to order on hot plates.

I always resist temptation because I know it can’t be good for you, but people like my dad love to mop up the juices with bread once we’ve all polished the meat off.

Would you be able to resist the temptation?

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Judy Kellett

Saturday 13th of May 2017

We had some lovely tender roast lamb that looked a lot like this: they sold it to us as "firin kebab" and we liked it so much at lunchtime we came back and had it again for dinner. I declined salad so they sent it out with the most glorious set yoghurt in a little terracotta baking dish, nigella seeds on the top. It was glorious!

Turkey's For Life

Wednesday 17th of May 2017

Hi Judy. Thanks a lot for your comment. Yeah, the Turkish word for oven is fırın. Lamb tandır has been baked in the oven over a lot of hours. The lamb is so tender isn't it - and always great served with yoghurt. A happy memory for you it seems. :)


Sunday 14th of April 2013

Kuzu Tandir is my absolute favourite Turkish dish. Cin Bal's is amazing, especially with the village yoghurt and a shake of salt. My dog used to look longingly at us when the tandir arrived (he used to come to Cin Bal's too and feast on bones). You've got me imagining I can taste it. Oh I feel so far away!

Turkey's For Life

Tuesday 10th of July 2012

@ Anonymous: Thank you for the comment and for the extra information. Much appreciated. :) Wow, the tandır çorbası sounds amazing - just the type of food we like. We'll add Tire to our list of places to see in Turkey, now. :)


Tuesday 10th of July 2012

The best place on earth to eat kuzu tandır is Tire. Tire is a small city of Izmir. Tandır is a traditional food in Tire and I believe it is way cheaper. And you MUST try tandır çorbası-soap. It is unique. Let me know when you want to visit Izmir, I will help you :)

Turkey's For Life

Tuesday 20th of September 2011

@ Zerrin: It's sooo good from Cin Bal. Thanks for the Turkish delight info. We'll use that to impress our friends, next time we have it. :)

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