Iskender: Food of the Gods

Having grown up all over the world, I have a love for trying the food of different cultures.  I lived in Turkey in elementary school and then again in high school and a favorite dish emerged for me.  Whenever we went to the local Turkish restaurant after church on Sundays, every one of us in my family of eight ordered a platter of iskender.  Picture it:  pillowy flatbread cut into cubes, layers of thinly sliced doner meat all slathered with a rich tomato sauce, drizzled with melted butter and served with a side of cool yogurt.  The most perfect dish I’ve ever eaten, though if you’re calorie counting this isn’t for you.

Iskender has literally haunted my dreams and I’ve often woken with a craving that I can’t fill.  Well, not until I researched recipes and found that I could create a close second to the meal only fully satisfied at a cafe in Turkey.  Here’s a recipe I found that I’ve tweaked a little.  If you can buy the doner meat from a local Greek or Turkish restaurant, you totally should.  But if not, I’ve really liked a few versions made in my own kitchen.  The first created by making a sort of meatloaf using ground beef and the spices included in the beef marinate of this recipe and then slicing that as thinly as possible.  The second would be thinly sliced steak, as is found in this recipe.  Also, unless you’re going to make your own flat bread, the pide bread found in grocery stores is not at all like the bread used in iskender.  I’d suggest cubing up some naan bread or another soft flatbread.  Iskender can be served with a roasted green chili on the side if you’d like–I never had iskender that way when I lived in Turkey but have seen it served with a mild, roasted green chili at restaurants in the U.S. and it’s YUMMY!

So, be transported with me to the beautiful, rich culture of Turkey and try making this meal for yourself, your friends or your family!  You won’t regret it!!


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