Ali Nazik (Minced Lamb and Smoked Aubergine)

Prep Time: 10 minutes      Cooking Time: 30 minutes                  Total Time: 40 minutes

For this issue, we pass over the culinary reins to John Gregory-Smith, whose new Turkish Delights cookbook has got everyone excited about Anatolian cuisine. His regionally-inspired recipes are perfect for home cooking and this tasty aubergine-lamb dish is definitely one Naciye nene would approve of!

Ali Nazik originated in the eastern town of Gaziantep, which has some of the best food in Turkey. The dish was prepared for a sultan in the 16th century and he asked whose ‘gentle hand’, or ‘eli nazik’ had made it – and so the dish was born. Traditionally in Turkish, the word ‘kebab’ means anything that is cooked over charcoal; something that Turkish culture excels in. This particular kebab would involve cooking the mince in a pan over hot coals to take on the smoky hues. You can try this at home on your barbecue. Otherwise it works just as well on the hob.

Ingredients – serves 4:

2 aubergines

200g yogurt

2 tablespoons olive oil

500g lamb mince

2 teaspoons tomato purée

2 ½ teaspoons Turkish pepper flakes

½ teaspoon dried oregano

30g butter

A handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Turkish flatbreads to serve



  1. Prick the aubergines all over with a skewer. Carefully place over a medium gas flame and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning four times, or until tender. You should be able to poke a skewer into the charred skin and straight through the flesh when it is cooked. Leave to cool.
  2. When cool to the touch, remove and discard the burnt skin. Cut off the tops and finely chop the flesh. Tip into a mixing bowl and add the yogurt and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix together really well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat and add the lamb. Fry for 8-10 minutes until golden. Add the tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the Turkish pepper flakes, the oregano and a good pinch of salt. Mix together and then remove from the heat.
  4. Put the butter in a small pan and heat for 1–2 minutes over a medium heat until bubbling. Add the remaining Turkish pepper flakes and mix well. Remove from the heat and leave for a few minutes to infuse.
  5. To serve, spread the glorious aubergines out onto a serving platter. Spoon over the golden nuggets of lamb and scatter over the parsley. Drizzle over the red butter and serve immediately with warm flatbreads. Afiyet olsun!


Photo by Martin Poole. Recipe from Turkish Delights by John Gregory-Smith, published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. See Leyla Kazim’s review here