Lamb Mince Kebabs with Pistachios (Simit Kebab)

lambkebab2I first tasted this dish in Istanbul, in a small restaurant, hidden away somewhere around the spice market. When you first bite into this aromatic kofta, you will see (and taste) tiny green pieces of pistachios. Some cooks add so many pistachios the mince turns almost green. It’s a fantastic dish, especially when served wrapped in pitta bread, which you first spread with garlicky thick yogurt, and topped with onion salad.


  • 850 grams lamb mince (I used mince from the leg of the lamb)
  • 1/3 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • ½ cup unsalted pistachios
  • 1 mint sprig, leaves only
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sumac plus extra for sprinkling

 For the yogurt spread

  • 400 grams full fat greek yogurt
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a small bowl put the bulgur wheat and add warm water to cover it by one inch. Let it soak for 10 minutes. Drain wheat (in case it didn’t absorb all the water) and leave in a bowl until needed.

In a blender add pistachios and one tablespoon water. Blend until finely chopped. Add parsley, mint leaves, garlic, spring onions and yellow onion and blend again.

Put lamb mince in a large bowl. Add the pistachio mixture, the wheat and the spices. Mix everything together very well (I use my hands). Add salt to taste and mix again. Cover the bowl with plastc wrap and leave mixture in the fridge for at least two hours, preferably over night.

When ready to cook, take the mince out of the fridge. Take 8 metal skewers, and using your hands, wrap the mince around the skewers to form 8 sausage shaped kebabs. Cook kebabs over medium grill for 10 minutes, turning once. For the yogurt spread, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Spread each pitta with the yogurt, top with a kebab, sprinkle with sumac and serve with onion salad.

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