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Testi Kebab: The Must-Try Traditional Taste of Central Anatolia

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Thank you for navigating your way back here! If you’re on this page, it means you’re interested in knowing more about Cappadocia’s kebab specialty, and I’m happy! As I mentioned in my main article Diving into the Culture and Gastronomy of Anatolia, Testi Kebab is THE dish you should try during your stay in Cappadocia, more specifically Goreme, where our gastronomy tour with Anatoliacadsa took us, Barbara Massaad, Maher Harb, and I.

Knowing that Cappadocia is the land of sand stone and pottery, it is no wonder to discover that this region’s culinary tradition relies on pottery as cooking material. Testi Kebab (or pottery kebab) is, as the name reveals, a kebab meal cooked inside a clay pot.

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The clay pot used to cook the kebab
What makes Testi Kebab an Anatolian traditional specialty?

What is traditional specialty food? What I mean by traditional specialty food here is artisanal food, which not only uses locally-sourced high-quality ingredients, but also preserve a traditional food culture passed on from old generations.

What makes Testi Kebab a traditional specialty is the way it is, to date, traditionally cooked and presented. The ancient recipe, which consists of meat (lamb, beef, or chicken, with lamb being the main consumed meat in Turkey) and vegetables placed in a clay pot, is covered with a bread dough, put in a clay oven, and left to slowly cook and simmer for 4 hours or so. Rush is definitely not a factor here; traditions are respected to prepare a purely artisanal dish with passion and a lot of patience.

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The clay oven

The food tradition is not only enjoyed through its well-steamed and infused flavors but also in the way it is presented and served to you. We were definitely treated to a show when the waiter brought the clay pot and cracked its upper part with some special tool to empty the soft-looking meat in our plates. The whole experience was a premiere to me!

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Dibek Restaurant: Where to enjoy Testi Kebab in Goreme

We were lucky to have a host that knows her way around and the best addresses for traditional food in Turkey. Kubra not only chose the best restaurant for Testi Kebab but also contacted the staff to notify them of our coming and give them a few hours’ notice that would allow them to have enough time to prepare this slowly-cooked meal for us.

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As we entered Dibek Restaurant, we were instantly charmed by the traditional interior design of the place: a typical oriental floor-sitting style that set the perfect mood for our experience. We were escorted to our private room where we made ourselves comfortable while impatiently waiting to unlock some new flavors.

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The gang

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Every single detail played a role in taking us back to the ancient days of Anatolia, from the pottery-based serving material to the multitude of small pots displayed on the table, very common to Turkish culinary traditions. The main act of the show was reserved to the Testi Kebab dish which landed on our table in a clay pot before being cracked and emptied in our plates.

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Diving in!

The dish comes accompanied with rice, local yogurt, traditional bread, pickles, a simple salad, and most importantly an assortment of herbs and spices, like oregano, cumin, chili, and more, to add as per one’s preference.

We were happy to exchange opinions over this feast of flavors. While Barbara felt the meat needed to scream more through extra spices, I loved the fact that the taste of the lamb was toned down through the slow-cooking technique. Some extra seasoning with the served spices was enough for me to enjoy the tender meat, never without the delicious local yogurt that is commonly paired with any Turkish dish.

Check the video below for a live simulation!

 

Long story short, Testi Kebab should be on your must-try list when in Cappadocia. If you are in Goreme, I would recommend Dibek Restaurant. If not, you can always ask your hotel for recommendations, but either way make sure to book at least few hours ahead, or even the previous day, to best enjoy this specialty dish.

For more th­­­ings to do in Cappadocia, check my article here.