As the story goes, Mehmetoğlu İskender Efendi created the first plate of İskender kebap in Bursa in 1867.
İskender Usta (“Chef Alexander”) chose lamb raised on the thyme-covered slopes of Mount Uludağ (which rises south of Bursa, which is south of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara). He roasted the meat as self-basting döner kebapon a vertical grill, cut off thin slices as it was done, spread the slices atop a bed of diced flat pide bread, then topped the meat and bread with savory tomato sauce and browned butter.
With a dollop of yogurt on the side and a sprinkle of parsley on top, the dish was served to his appreciative clientele.
The fame of İskender Usta and his dish spread throughout Bursa, and Turkey, and the world.
Over the years other restaurants opened in Bursa and began serving the dish, each claiming culinary descent from the master himself and bearing names such as İskenderoğlu(“Son of Iskender”).
|A gigantic döner kebap that may end up as İskender Kebap.|
Although İskender/Bursa-style kebap is now served throughout Turkey in many restaurants, the best is still made in Bursa where various restaurants compete for discerning clientele. There is a particular care taken with the selection of the meatand the preparation of the dish in Bursa that is not found everywhere else.
I think it’s worth visiting Bursa just to eat this stuff.
Most İskender kebap restaurants in Bursa do not serve alcoholic beverages. The preferred beverages are water, mineral water or ayran,the yogurt-and-water drink (which is what I prefer to sip while eating İskender kebap.)
İskender kebap is traditionally ordered by the porsyon(portion). You order bir porsyon (one portion) for a normal meal, bir-buçuk porsyon (one-and-a-half portions) if you’re pretty hungry, and a duble porsyon (“double portion,” two portions) if you’re famished and haven’t had Iskender kebap in months.
While you’re in Bursa, try the traditional candied chestnuts(kestane şekeri), delicious peaches (şeftali) and excellent fruit juices (meyva suları) as well.