This dish comes out of a tradition from central Asia.
The meat changes from country to country, as does the preparation. Sometimes it is minced and shaped onto sticks. More often it is cut into chunks and skewered.
A key flavour that makes a kebab a kebab is the coals it is cooked on. The wood infuses the meat with its greatest character. The concept of dicing the meat into two-centimetre cubes means there is more surface to take on the flavour of the coals and also of the marinade.
I’ve used lamb leg for this recipe, because I like the leanness of the meat. But really there are no rules. All I would say is to always work a day ahead: there’s no point marinating for half an hour.
I always add a small amount of salt to a marinade, not only to gently season the meat, but also to draw out some moisture. A little salt seems to bring the whole thing together.
I’ve paired this dish with eggplant, which is how it is often served in Turkey. For me, I always like to cook eggplants over coals, so it seems a waste to have the coals burning and not use them.
The eggplant recipe here is quite different. The base is a bechamel sauce, which gives the eggplant more of a structure and body and makes it less dip-like. If you are a regular reader of this page, you will know this is
• important to me. I hate dips.
Photography: Earl Carter
ANDREW McCONNELL is the executive chef and coowner of Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc. He is The Saturday Paper’s food editor.