Iskender Kebab

Iskender Kebab
Anita Schecter
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
676 Calories
22g Fat
86g Carbs
34g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 676
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 29%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 94mg 31%
Sodium 1322mg 57%
Total Carbohydrate 86g 31%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 34g
Vitamin C 47mg 234%
Calcium 263mg 20%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 1341mg 29%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of the most famous Turkish meat dishes, this style of kebab is named after its 19th-century inventor, Iskender Efendi. As a food, kebabs, in general, have their origins in Middle Eastern, Turkish, and Indian cultures. But while we tend to think of hunks of meat on a skewer, often alternating with pieces of vegetable when we hear the word kebab, it's actually a broader term that covers many grilled meat dishes.

Iskender is essentially a doner-style kebab, which is a traditional Turkish dish of seasoned meat that's stacked in the shape of an inverted cone and turned on a vertical rotisserie to slowly roast. The recipe and method date back to the 19th century Ottoman Empire and is also the basis for Greek gyros and Middle Eastern shawarma dishes.

The different applications are served with different accompaniments, but all are common street sandwich fast-foods that are stuffed into a form of flatbread such as pita, naan or lavash and may contain vegetables such as tomato, lettuce, cabbage, onions, cucumbers or pickles. They're covered in a sauce which might be yogurt based, such as tzatziki or sesame-based such as tahini.

As the meat cooks, the outer layers are sliced or shaved off and served in a variety of ways. In the case of the Iskender, the thinly sliced lamb is served over some type of bread or pita along with a hot tomato sauce, melted butter, and whipped yogurt.

It's obviously difficult to replicate the doner-style cooking at home unless you have a spit. But you can replicate the idea by using a cooked lamb shank or other roasted pieces of lamb such as a leg. Since we want to slice the meat thinly, it's best to start with a cooked and refrigerated piece of lamb. The cold meat will allow for easier slicing and, once sliced, the lamb gets reheated in butter and then topped with the traditional warm tomato sauce of the Iskender.


  • 1/4 pound lamb shank, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 large pita, naan bread

  • 1 medium whole tomato, seeded and diced

  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Slice the cooked lamb shank as thinly as possible.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Sauté the lamb slices in the butter until warmed through.

  4. Place the warmed lamb over the pita or naan bread.

  5. Add the seeded and diced tomatoes to the pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and sauté for a minute. 

  6. Stir in the tomato sauce until warmed through.

  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste

  8. Pour the tomato mixture over the lamb

  9. Top with Greek-style yogurt and serve warm.

  10. Enjoy!