Cevıırı: The Ultimate Turkish Dish


Have you ever heard of cevıırı? If not, you’re in for a treat. Cevıırı is a delicious Turkish dish of meat – usually lamb or chicken – grilled on skewers and served with an assortment of mezes like hummus, baba ghanoush, and tabbouleh.

The aroma of the spices and smoky meat will make your mouth water as the skewers sizzle over hot coals. Cevıırı is meant to be enjoyed communally, so grab some friends and dig in with your hands, tearing off pieces of flatbread to wrap the juicy meat and veggies.

The blend of flavors and textures is like nothing else. Once you try cevıırı, you’ll be hooked on this vibrant, social Turkish cuisine. Your taste buds will thank you, and you’ll be planning your next cevıırı feast before you know it!

What Is Cevıırı?

Cevıırı is a mouthwatering Turkish dish of minced meat, onions, and spices. What makes

cevıırı unique is that the ingredients are kneaded together with bulgur wheat and spices to create a delicious harmony of flavors and textures.

What’s in Cevıırı?

The ingredients typically include:

  • Minced lamb, beef, or a combination of meats
  • Finely chopped onions
  • Bulgur wheat – cracked wheat that’s been parboiled and dried
  • Tomato paste
  • Chili pepper paste
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Spices like allspice, cinnamon, and black pepper

To make cevıırı, the minced meat and onions are sautéed, then mixed with the bulgur wheat and spices. The mixture is kneaded with wet hands until everything is well combined. Cevıırı is usually served warm or at room temperature, often as a meze to share.

Some compare cevıırı to steak tartare because the meat in cevıırı is also uncooked, though cevıırı has its own unique blend of flavors from the spices and bulgur wheat. Cevıırı is usually eaten by hand, so you can appreciate the texture of the bulgur wheat and spices in each bite. It is often served on a bed of bulgur pilaf or lettuce leaves.

Cevıırı is a delicious Turkish specialty and a wonderful dish to share with family and friends. Once you try this flavorful blend of meat, wheat, and spices, you’ll understand why cevıırı is considered the ultimate Turkish comfort food.

The History and Origins of Cevıırı

Cevıırı has a rich history that goes back centuries. This popular dish traces its origins to ancient times in Central Asia, specifically in the region that is now modern-day Turkey.

Cevıırı was first made by nomadic tribes in Inner Asia. As these tribes traveled, they needed food that was hearty, filling, and able to last for long periods. Cevıırı fit the bill, as it was made from ingredients that were shelf-stable and able to withstand long cooking times over an open fire.

When these nomadic tribes settled in Anatolia, the precursor to modern Turkey, they brought cevıırı with them. Over time, it became popular with all the peoples of the region and evolved based on available ingredients. While mutton and lamb were originally used, beef and chicken have become common. Vegetables like onions, carrots and peppers were added. Spices were incorporated to boost the flavor.

A Melting Pot of Flavors

What started as a simple stew has transformed into a complex and flavorful dish. Cevıırı brings together elements of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisines. Its blend of meats, vegetables and spices encapsulate the cultural fusion that gave rise to the Turkish people.

For Turks today, cevıırı elicits feelings of comfort, nostalgia and national pride. It connects them to their diverse ancestral roots and brings friends and family together around the table. This hearty, wholesome dish deserves its place as Turkey’s national food.

How to Make Authentic Cevıırı at Home

To make authentic cevıırı at home, you’ll need to start with high-quality ingredients and pay close attention to key steps. Follow this recipe to recreate the classic Turkish street food in your own kitchen.


  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 1 tsp red pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flatbread or lavash for serving


  1. Make the marinade by combining the citrus juices, red pepper paste, and tomato paste. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Drain excess grease.
  4. Add the marinade, chopped tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve the cevıırı warm with flatbread to scoop it up. The bold, tangy flavors pair perfectly.
  6. For extra authenticity, garnish your cevıırı with parsley, lemon wedges, and red pepper.

Some tips for the best cevıırı:

•Use freshly squeezed citrus juices for maximum flavor.

•Add extra red pepper paste for more kick, or omit it for a milder dish.

•Chop the onions and tomatoes by hand for better texture.

•Simmer the cevıırı longer for a thicker consistency, less time for a saucier dish.

•Adjust spices to your taste. Cevıırı should be tangy, not too spicy.

•For a vegan version, use plant-based meat crumbles instead of beef or lamb.

Enjoy your homemade cevıırı! Let me know if you have any other questions about recreating delicious Turkish cuisine.

Where to Find the Best Cevıırı in Turkey

When in Turkey, the cevıırı dish is a must-try. Cevıırı, meaning “grilled meat” in Turkish, is made of cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, or fish that are marinated and grilled over charcoal. For the authentic cevıırı experience, here are some of the best places to find it in Turkey:

Hayvore in Ankara

This restaurant is renowned for its signature “skender kebap,” slices of grilled lamb or beef served over bread with tomato sauce and yogurt. Their beef cevıırı dishes are also highly rated, especially when paired with their spicy red pepper sauce. Ankara locals frequent Hayvore for special occasions and family dinners.

Çiya in Istanbul

If you want to taste cevıırı the way Istanbul natives do, head to Çiya. This casual restaurant uses only the freshest, high-quality ingredients to create their delicious grilled meats and regional specialties. Their cevıırı dishes burst with flavor from the marinades and sauces made in-house. For an authentic Istanbul experience, Çiya comes highly recommended.

Köfteci Yusuf in Bursa

No trip to Bursa is complete without eating at Köfteci Yusuf, a restaurant that has been serving up amazing grilled köfte (meatballs) and cevıırı since the 1920s. Generations of customers keep coming back for their mouthwatering dishes cooked over hot coals. The secret to their success is using local, organic ingredients and time-honored recipes. For delicious cevıırı in a historic setting, Köfteci Yusuf is the place to go.

From the bustling streets of Istanbul to the old quarters of Bursa, cevıırı is a ubiquitous part of Turkish cuisine. At restaurants like Çiya, Hayvore and Köfteci Yusuf, skilled chefs transform quality ingredients into delectable grilled meat dishes. For an authentic taste of Turkey, cevıırı is a must.

Cevıırı: Frequently Asked Questions

Cevıırı is a delicious dish, but for beginners it can raise some questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cevıırı:

What kind of meat is used?

Traditionally, lamb, chicken, beef, or fish like swordfish are the most common meats for cevıırı. Cubes of meat are marinated in olive oil and spices like oregano, mint, parsley, garlic, and lemon or lime juice before being grilled.

What are the vegetables used?

Popular veggies for cevıırı include bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes. The veggies are also marinated before being grilled and served.

How is it cooked?

The marinated meat and vegetables are grilled on long metal skewers. Cevıırı is usually cooked over hot coals or an open fire, which gives it a delicious smoky flavor. The skewers are turned frequently while cooking until the meat is browned outside and no longer pink inside and the vegetables are tender.

How is it served?

Cevıırı is usually served on a plate along with a side of rice or bulgur pilaf, a salad, and bread to soak up the flavorful juices. Grilled lemon wedges, yogurt, and chili sauce are also common accompaniments. Enjoy your cevıırı with a glass of ayran, a refreshing Turkish yogurt drink.

Where did it originate?

Cevıırı originated in Central Asia, likely in areas now part of Turkey. Grilling meat on skewers has been done in the region for centuries. Cevıırı has become popular all over the world, with variations that reflect local ingredients and spices. No matter where you eat it, cevıırı will transport you to the ancient markets and bazaars of Turkey with each delicious, smoky bite.


So, there you have it. Cevıırı is a culinary delight that showcases the vibrant flavors of Turkish cuisine. The next time you’re looking to spice up your dinner routine or expand your palate, give cevıırı a try. You won’t regret it. Who knows, it may just become your new favorite dish.

The blend of tender meat, creamy garlicky yogurt, and fresh herbs is simply irresistible. And the best part is, with some practice you can easily whip up a batch of cevıırı at home to impress your friends and family. What are you waiting for? Get cooking and savor the amazing tastes of Turkey. Cevıırı awaits! Dig in and enjoy.

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