Our weekend in Bursa would not have been complete if we had not tried the dish that was made famous there, Iskender Kebab. Everyone has heard of Döner Kebab, juicy tidbits of meat layered on a vertical spit. Typically in Turkey, your choices are et (beef) or tavuk (chicken), sometimes the “et” could be a mixture of lamb and beef, which is my favorite.
Well, the story goes that Efendi Iskender (Sir Alexander) back in 1867 wasn’t happy with the fact that some customers were getting choicier pieces of meat since the roast on the spit was horizontal. He decided to cut the meat into smaller pieces and layer it on a vertical spit with a huge layer of fat on the top, so that all the juices would run down through the meat and make it more tender and evenly distributed.
On top of that, he decided to change the way the dinner was served. Instead of a pile of shaven meat on top of a bed of rice, he switched out the rice and put a pide (flat bread, slightly toasted), then the pile of rice, drizzled with tomato sauce and melted butter. It might be vein-hardening, but it sure is delicious. Needless to say, the dish has taken off around the country and you can buy it in many, many restaurants.
However, the original restaurant still stands in the middle of Bursa, Iskender Kebabçisi, and has even expanded to three malls and a restaurant in Bodrum. We visited the original, which was very cozy, painted white with light blue trim, sporting one huge copper grill, and a monster döner kebab. All they serve is Iskender Kebab. Presently, you can get a portion for 19.50 Tl, or a portion and a half, or I guess even a double portion, but one was enough for me. It was delectable!
If the city wasn’t charming enough all on its own, this dish put it way over the top! I love it when a place is linked to such a specific food with a great story. How about you? I’m sure you have a place that is linked inextricably with a food. Leave a comment…you know, we just love to eat!