Turkish-Style Lamb 'Kavurma'

kavurma and rice
Nadore / Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
640 Calories
41g Fat
0g Carbs
63g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 640
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 53%
Saturated Fat 17g 86%
Cholesterol 229mg 76%
Sodium 868mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 63g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 768mg 16%
*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.)

The Festival of Eid el-Adha, better known in Turkish as Kurban Bayramı (koor-BAHN’ buy-RAHM’-uh), or the "sacrifice festival," is a great time to enjoy traditional Turkish home cooking at its best. As this time of year is a festival of sacrifice, menus are built around the main attraction. The sacrificial meat.

The most common meats are lamb and beef. Once the animal is put down according to Islamic tradition, the meat and hide are carved up for consumption by the family with the extra donated to charity to feed the hungry.

In a country where many families can rarely afford to eat meat, the distribution of meat during this time is welcomed by all. Although anything but alcohol can be consumed along with the sacrificial meat, there is on one dish that is a constant at every table. That is the meat itself.

What Is Kavurma?

Whether it’s lamb or beef, the first dish to be prepared after the sacrifice is a large pot of kavurma (kah-VOOR’-mah). Kavurma is a simple dish, basically the meat of the animal that’s cooked in its own juices along with some salt.

Meat and fat from the animal are cubed and put directly in a covered pot to start the slow roasting process. After several hours of slow roasting, often over an open flame, the meat breaks down and becomes as soft as cotton.


Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the meat and fat into bite-sized cubes and put it all in a saucepan. Add the salt and turn through with your hands.

  2. Turn the heat on high until the bottom begins to sizzle. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Leave the pan to simmer very gently for several hours. Turn the meat over occasionally with a wooden spoon.

  3. You’ll know the meat is ready when there is no liquid left except the melted fat and the meat is falling apart and has darkened in color.

  4. Serve the hot kavurma with a side dish of rice or bulgur pilaf and other traditional Turkish dishes.