Adana Kebab, Urfa Pepper and Turkey on Spice & Recipe

A dish and spice named after two border cities, showcased by two Turkish-Americans who come from a city that lies in two continents.

Adana kebab with Urfa pepper, a side of Shepherd salad, a glass of Ayran yogurt drink and a slice of Baklava is the perfect meal for everyone who hails from Turkey.

Urfa pepper is a unique variety of chili pepper that grows only in the the area of the Turkish southern border city of Urfa. Dried Urfa pepper is the most popular form of the spice, distinguished for its smoky, chocolate like flavor, soft texture, and very unique dark burgundy color.

Recently, Urfa pepper has grown in popularity in the U.S. as a replacement for the Aleppo pepper, another variety, named after the Syrian city of Aleppo, only 113 miles away from the Urfa region. The Aleppo pepper is still scarce due to the war in Syria.

Adana is also a southern border city that hasn’t changed its name in at least 4,000 years. A city of this age deserved a dish after its name, and Adana kebab has become a staple of that area and Turkish cuisine. The kebab varies in its power depending on the amount and types of spices used to prepare it.

Zafer Bulduk left Istanbul, Turkey to study in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A. He met Sheila, his American wife, and rooted in the area. A few years later, his brother, Aydin, and wife, Neslihan, followed.

A combination of longing for the Turkish food and wanting to introduce the taste of Turkey to Omaha, led both families to opening their own restaurant. The Istanbul Food Court is in fact a Turkish island in East Omaha.

Neslihan, who took a big detour from her original public relation career for the city of Istanbul, showcases the making of this unique dish, as Zafer shares a few insights on life in a city literally located at the door of two civilizations. Istanbul is the biggest city in Turkey and lies in both Asia and Europe.

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Serving size: 4 people

Adana Kebab:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Urfa pepper (Isot Biber)
  • 1 tablespoon mild pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 finely chopped small red bell peppers or 2 big ones

Shepherd Salad:

  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped in 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 small cucumbers or 1 big cucumber quartered and chopped in 1/2″ cubes
  • 3 green onion or to taste, sliced
  • fresh Italian parsley (flat leaf parsley) chopped
  • half a lemon
  • salt, olive oil, vinegar

Ayran Drink:

  • Yogurt
  • Salt


Adana Kebab: Place all ingredients together in a big bowl and mix until well incorporated. Scoop a handful of the meat mixture and round it in a potato-shaped ball. Insert skewer into the ball and work the meat until a layer of a quarter of an inch is formed around the metal blade. Place it on a grill and rotate every 4-5 minutes until the kebab is well done, or the meat temperature reaches 165°F.

Shepherd Salad: Mix all vegetables in a big bowl. Squeeze half a lemon, add salt, oil olive and vinegar to taste.

Ayran: Pour yogurt and salt in a blender and blend for a few minutes, until yogurt is liquified.

Serve Adana kebab on pita bread, or rice, add shepherd salad to the meal and accompany all with a glass of Ayran yogurt drink.


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April 25, 2021

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