Adana Kebab and my new found notoriety

Sharing is caring!

Have you tried Veysel's Adana kebab?

Back in April this year I wrote a list of must try Turkish foods for CNN Travel. My aim in putting it together was to let people know there’s more to Turkish cuisine than kebab and baklava. I made a conscious decision not to include a famous dish called Adana Kebab because, well, it’s famous. Everyone knows it. You’ll find it on menus in almost every restaurant everywhere, in any tourist location or elsewhere. Instead I thought about all the Turkish foods I particularly love and also asked all my foreign friends what dishes they recommend their guests try when they come to Turkey

When the list first came out it was well-received, with non-Turks sharing it on their FB feeds, tweeting about it and adding it to their own lists of foods to try on their next trip to Turkey. I thought no more about it until I was on holiday in Kaş in the first week of September. I was tucking into a succulent serve of kaburga (ribs) at Zula Meyhane (now Pirzula) when I received a message in Turkish from a man saying how upset he was that my list didn’t include Adana Kebab. Puzzled because I’d forgotten all about the list, I put my phone to one side and continued with my meal. It wasn’t until later that night I looked at the message again and by that time of day my Turkish ability is less than good.

The next day it was hot and the sea called. I looked at my phone briefly and saw that a chef called Veysel had been on TV talking about Adana Kebab but I couldn’t get the video link he’d sent to open. Imagine my surprise when I got back to Istanbul and Googled my name only to find a dozen or more Turkish media articles featuring me and the great Adana kebab omission, as well as a number of TV news reports about it. I did a bit more digging and contacted Veysel, chef and owner of Altıbuçuk Adana Ocakbaşı Nişantaşı. When he suggested I come and sample his Adana and talk to the media, I immediately said yes.

Veysel was impressed by my book Exploring Turkish Landscapes too!

I was a bit nervous about how I’d be received. After all, I was the yabancı (the foreigner) who didn’t include Adana Kebab on a list called The Best Turkish foods (please note, I did not choose the title). However, as soon as I arrived at the restaurant and met with Veysel I felt at ease. Not surprisingly he’s very passionate about Adana Kebab and is a three times Turkey-wide Adana kebab chef champion. When I explained that I knew and loved Adana Kebab but wanted visitors to Turkey to expand their culinary repertoire he applauded my efforts and complimented me on my Turkish (phew). I asked him about his background and he told me his now 80 year old father made and sold kebabs for 50 years. Veysel learned the craft from him, including the family recipe for the spices and other ingredients that makes his Adana Kebab so special. When I asked him how long he’d been in the business Veysel told me he’d been born into his mother’s şalvar (traditional baggy pants) and started straight to work at the family food cart.

We were joined by Aytaç Can from Kanal D and his cameraman Ismail. Like Veysel, Aytaç was surprised and pleased that I spoke Turkish and also with my reasoning in putting together the list. Next he told me what we were going to do, how he wanted to film it and off we went. It was quite an experience. There’s nothing like having a camera in your face, an interviewer asking questions in Turkish on one side, a Turkish chef hand feeding you Adana kebab on the other while also being filmed by restaurant patrons too and being watched by all the staff.

Unfortunately the segment is no longer available to share but I had a lot of fun making it and in case you’re wondering, Veysel’s Adana Kebab is absolutely superb. I love it spicy and it certainly was, but if you’re not a fan they do a non-spicy version too. Afiyet olsun!

To make the most of your trip to Istanbul read up on local life and culture in one of my booksuse my audio walking tour of Kadikoy,  stay in a fabulous historical hotel like the Empress Zoe or prebook a tour of the city. Part of the money I earn in commissions goes towards the cost of  providing information about Istanbul and Turkey to readers for free. Please help me continue to help you.

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.