While I was in Istanbul I took a trip to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. Our rather helpful guide took us to a shop whose owner she had known for many years and thus would not over-charge us (and no doubt gave her a small amount of the profits). The Spice Bazaar is truly an overwhelming experience with so many sights, smells and people. Every shop owner is eager for you to try their produce, with with them and enjoy some apple tea. On the whole this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I would recommend anyone visiting Istanbul to put this on their list of things to do.
At the Spice Bazaar I decided to stock up on Turkish produce: a variety of tea, Turkish Delight, saffron (albeit from Iran) and a kebab spice mix. The spice mix, which they vacuum-packed for me, was a deep red colour and had a powerful smell. Containing paprika, tumeric, cardamon, cayenne pepper, garlic, cumin, chili, among other spices, this mix makes a perfect rub for şiş kebabs, chicken or beef. With some nice weather, it seemed the perfect time for a barbecue and to experiment with my mystery spice mix.
To make the kebabs, place large chunks of beef or chicken in a bowl and generously sprinkle over spice mix.
Put this in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours.
Make sure the pieces of meat are evenly coated in the spices. Place pieces of meat on skewer. I used wooden skewers which must be soaked in water before use (otherwise they burn), however, metal skewers, which conduct the heat of the barbecue better, are actually best.
Barbecue until chicken is cooked through thoroughly. Obviously, in the case of beef, this does not need to be cooked through as long as it has been heated sufficiently.
Serve the skewers with a selection of couscous or bulgar wheat, salad, olives, flat breads and humous. For Western tastes a serving of thick yogurt or sour cream make be appreciated as the meats’ marinade is particularly dry (although the meat is tasty and not dry itself!) and warming. For an extra twist, flavour the yoghurt with some lemon zest and juice and mint. Refreshing!