I first enjoyed this dish in Athens and couldn’t believe I had never tasted it before. A warm fresh pita is topped with savory kebabs then bathed in a creamy yogurt sauce. On top of that is a savory tomato sauce with some extra paprika sprinkled on top.
This can be served with rice pilaf or mashed potatoes. Be sure to have some extra pita bread on hand for dipping in the delicious sauce.
- For the kebabs:
- 2 lbs. ground beef (can be mixed with ground lamb or ground pork)
- 2 large onions, shredded on a box grater (with liquid)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tbsp. paprika (plus more for sprinkling)
- 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. cumin
- salt and black pepper to taste
- For the yogurt sauce:
- 1-1/2 cups Greek yogurt, strained
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 3 tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- For the tomato sauce:
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tbsp. vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- pinch of ground clove
- 1 cinnamon stick
- salt and pepper to taste
- Round pita bread for serving
Combine the ingredients very well in a large bowl and chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator. This will allow the flavors to meld and will yield tastier kebabs.Make the sauces:
While the meat is chilling, make the yogurt sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well with a whisk. Set aside.
Prepare the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and diced tomatoes with their liquid. Add the sugar, vinegar, cayenne pepper, clove, cinnamon stick, and salt and pepper. Simmer for at least half an hour so that the flavors can develop.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Shape the meat mixture into sausage shaped rolls, about six inches long and about two inches thick. Bake the kebabs in a lightly greased pan for approximately 40 minutes or until nicely browned. You don’t want them tough, just cooked through.
(If you prefer, you can pan fry the kebabs in a small amount of olive oil until they are nicely browned or cook them on the grill.)
Remove the kebabs from the oven and begin to assemble the dish. Place a warm pita bread in the bottom of a deep heat proof pie plate. Add the kebabs and cover with yogurt sauce. Drizzle the tomato sauce over the kebabs and sprinkle with ground paprika. Heat in the warm oven until the sauce is heated through and serve warm.
Don't forget the additional pitas for dipping!