Many people may not know there is a sizeable Turkish immigrant population in Denmark (as well as other Western European countries). The first wave came over as guest workers during the labor shortage in the 60’s and decided to stay. The guest workers subsequently brought over their families, their religion, their customs and, of course, their food. Of all the things these guest workers brought with them, it’s the food that seems to have been absorbed most readily into Danish society.
Nothing says "eat me!" like a picture of a kebab sandwich in your face, except maybe a real kebab sandwich in your face.
The interesting thing about Turkish (and other Middle Eastern) cuisine in Denmark is that it’s usually offered as quick food—things like sharwarma or kebab—and it is very popular. In Copenhagen you didn’t have to look very hard for a sharwarma joint, even at 3 AM after a night of pub crawling (the best time to eat kebab IMO). Our favorite place was located on StrØget, the pedestrian shopping street. They boasted the best sharwarma in the city and that their secret was a spice combination consisting of an outlandish number of spices. The number that keeps coming to mind is 65, but that just can’t be right. Maybe the place is still there and still popular? I’ll have to try to squeeze in a visit the next trip to DK.
So what’s the difference between a sharwarma and a kebab? Honestly, I’m not really sure. I always thought sharwarma consisted of sliced meat that was compressed into a big hunk and slow cooked on a vertical spit. When you order, a little meat is shaved off, quickly browned then rolled in a flatbread with some dressing and maybe some tomato. Kebabs always bring to mind seasoned meat (chunks or minced) grilled on a skewer then rolled in flatbread or served with a rice pilaf. That’s just my understanding, but people seem to use the terms interchangeably, so how's a girl supposed to know? If you have any insight, do chime in!
Since I didn’t have an occasion or the equipment to slow cook a hunk of compressed lamb on a spit, I went for the easy route and made minced meat kebab sandwiches. Can’t really go wrong with anything comprised of well-seasoned minced meat on a stick, now can you? The only thing was missing the rinky-dink-hole-in-the-wall-everyone-around-me-is-half-drunk ambiance. You know how some things just taste better when eaten in a particular context? Going to have to figure out how to achieve that in my backyard.☺
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika or cayenne
- 1 tsp ground cumin or coriander
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg or cinnamon
- 1 to 2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond brand)
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tbs all-purpose flour
Mix everything well, form onto skewers (pre-soaked if using wood), then grill until done. Can’t get much easier than that.
Serve with a nice rice pilaf and fresh sliced tomato and cucumber. Or in a flatbread of your choice with tomato and yogurt dressing (Greek-style yogurt + chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro, squeeze of lemon, finely chopped garlic and salt).
This is my submission to Regional Recipes. I'm hosting this month and will take submissions up until May 20th. Send them, along with a picture that is approximately 250x250 pix to blazinghotwok(at)gmail(dot)com.
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