A Special Flavor of Turkish Cuisine: Ali Nazik Kebab — A Perfect Combination of Lamb, Eggplant and Yoghurt

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Alinazik or Ali Nazik kebab is a delicious Gaziantep speciality and one of the Turkish people favourites. So, it is a very tasty combination of char-grilled smoked eggplant puree. What’s more, yoghurt and topped with tender lamb stew complete the perfect combination. Therefore, Turkish people serve Alinazik with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables aside. It really is a feast to all senses and a special dish to share.

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Alinazik or Ali Nazik kebab is a delicious Gaziantep city speciality.
Alinazik or Ali Nazik kebab is a delicious Gaziantep city speciality.

On the other hand, there are several assumptions where the name Ali Nazik came from. So, here are the two different and main stories. One of them dates back to the 16th century Ottoman Empire. It was the time of the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim. On a trip to the city of Antep, (today’s Gaziantep in Turkey), the Sultan was greeted with this local delicacy of delicious eggplant and yoghurt mash with a grilled lamb over. Sultan Selim liked the dish so much. Then, he asked “Who’s ‘gentle hand’ (“Eli nazik” in Turkish) made this?” The story tells that the name, “Ali nazik,” has stuck since then.

Ali Nazik Kebab is a perfect combination of eggplant, yoghurt and the meat.
Ali Nazik Kebab is a perfect combination of eggplant, yoghurt and the meat.

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There is also another story. According to this story, the name was adopted from the old Ottoman Turkish language. In this language, “ala” meant “beautiful” and “nazik” meant “food.” Over the centuries, this turned to “Ali nazik” (In modern Turkish, “nazik” means “polite,” thus the meaning “polite Ali”).

Ali Nazik as One of the Best Kebab Dishes of Turkish Cuisine

The highlight of this dish for us is the delicious smoked eggplant puree, mashed with plain yoghurt (we recommend strained or thick creamy yoghurt). To get the smoky flavour for the eggplants, we highly recommend roasting them over a coal fire (here’s how to roast the eggplant over the burner) or over the gas burner. In Turkey, people use a very simple gadget “Kozmatik” to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, so it is a genius idea to cook if you can get it. It makes a bit of a mess but the smoky taste of the eggplants is well worth it. You can cook the eggplants a day ahead of time. Once mashed, mix with the juice of ½ lemon to help retain its colour and keep in the fridge, covered.

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Once you taste Ali Nazik, you will love it!
Once you taste Ali Nazik, you will love it!

Traditionally, a cook uses stewed tender pieces of lamb in a sauce of Ali Nazik. Though you may replace it with a meat of your choice. The creamy eggplant and yoghurt puree is just heavenly with the meat topping, hope you enjoy Ali Nazik.

Ali Nazik Kebab; Lamb Stew Over Smoked Eggplant and Yoghurt Puree

Ali Nazik Kebab, a southern Turkish speciality from Gaziantep region, is a feast to all senses. The smoky eggplant and garlicky yoghurt puree provide a delicious base for the tender lamb stew, placed over the top. Served with grilled vegetables and plain rice, Ali Nazik is a delicious and impressive kebab to enjoy.
Recipe type: Traditional Turkish Kebabs
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4

Ali Nazik is a traditional Turkish flavour.
Ali Nazik is a traditional Turkish flavour.

  • For the eggplant and yoghurt puree:
  • 4 medium purple eggplants
  • 16 fl. oz. / 2 cup thick, whole milk yoghurt (brand Fage works well)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely diced
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the meat topping:
  • 450gr/1 lb. small chunks of lamb (or meat of your choice)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper paste or 2 tsp. chilli flakes (optional, if you like a spicy taste)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the roasted vegetables:
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 green, yellow and red bell peppers, deseeded and quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • A handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve

How to Cook Ali Nazik Kebab

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. First, prepare the eggplants. Place the eggplants or aubergines directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 – 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Secondly, use metal tongs to turn the eggplants around so that all sides would cook evenly and the skin is nicely chargrilled. Afterwards, cook until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft (you can also cook this way over barbeque).
  4. Thirdly, remove the cooked eggplants to a colander to allow them to cool. Later on, once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain its bitter juices. It is, by the way, a good idea to gently squeeze the eggplant flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  5. Afterwards, chop the flesh of the eggplant and mix in the chopped garlic, season with salt and ground black pepper. Combine well, cover and set aside until the lamb stew is ready (If you’d like to prepare the eggplants a day ahead of time, then mix the eggplant mash with the juice of ½ lemon to help retain its colour and keep in the fridge, covered).

Other Main Steps to Cook Ali Nazik

  1. To roast the vegetables, spread the quartered and sliced onions, tomatoes and peppers in a tray and stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Later on, season with salt and ground black pepper and combine well. And then, roast at the preheated oven (180 C/ 350 F) for 30 – 35 minutes.
  2. As for the lamb stew, cut the lamb into chunky, generous bite-size pieces.
  3. Pour in 2 tbsp. olive oil in a wide, heavy pan and stir in the diced onions. Then, sauté over medium to high heat for 3 minutes, the onions will start to soften.
  4. Stir in the lamb pieces and sauté with the onions for 5 minutes, mixing regularly. The lamb will release its juice.
  5. Later on, add the red pepper paste and/or red pepper flakes and tomato paste to the pan, and combine them well. Check the seasoning and turn the heat to low. Stir in 2 tbsp. water, combine and cover the pan. Simmer the lamb gently for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  6. Just before serving, pour in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and gently reheat the eggplant & garlic puree until it is hot. Turn the heat off and stir the yoghurt to the eggplant puree and combine well.



Bon Appetit (Afiyet Olsun).

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