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.
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?