Lambs and young goats are roasted whole on spits for special celebrations and ceremonies in Anatolia. The feasts will include courses of yogurt or okra soup, stuffed vine leaves, pilaf, yogurt, pickles and baklava. Traditionally, the lamb or kid is roasted on a spit over a tandır oven. The slaughtered animal is dehorned, skinned, gutted and wiped clean before being spiked with pieces of garlic, inserted into holes pierced by a sharp knife point. The flesh is then rubbed with a marinade of yogurt, tomato purée, onion juice, crushed garlic, ground coriander and cumin, and whole onions are stuffed into the body cavity along with the liver, heart and kidneys. The flavours are left to penetrate the flesh for at least two hours.
The feet of the animal are then tied with string and attached to an iron spit, which is lowered over the tandır. A pan is placed at the bottom of the pit to catch the roasting juices, which will later be used to moisten the meat. As the fire dies down, the spit is gradually lowered until the animal is fully inside the pit oven. Wire mesh is placed over the opening and caked with mud to seal the heat inside. Depending on the age and weight of the kid or lamb, it can take 2-4 hours for the meat to cook. In the meantime, a huge bulgur pilaf is prepared and spread out on a platter. When the meat is done, it is placed on this bed of bulgur and basted in the roasting juices — then it’s ready to eat.
© 1995 Ghillie Basan. All rights reserved.