Pottery Kebab: A Must-try Dish in Cappadocia, Turkey

Pottery Kebab: A Must-try Dish in Cappadocia, Turkey

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Cappadocia, specifically the town of Avanos, is known for its pottery. A pottery hub since the Hittite period, it’s fitting that one of its most popular regional specialties — testi kebab — is just as known for the vessel that it’s cooked in as the dish itself.

Meaning “jug” in Turkish, testi or pottery kebab is an Anatolian speciality prepared in a clay pot or jug. It’s usually made with lamb, beef, or chicken with vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and potatoes. Traditionally cooked in a tandoor or clay oven, the pot is sealed with bread dough and left to simmer in its own juices for hours.

When ready, the blazing hot jug is brought out and cracked in front of you, releasing the aroma of its still gurgling contents whilst treating the diners to a little tableside theater. It’s a tasty spectacle that’s a must-try for anyone visiting Cappadocia.

Testi Kebab

Enticed by its pottery kebab display, we randomly walked into this restaurant thinking that all testi kebabs were created equal. We were wrong. As it turns out, the best restaurants require a few hours’ notice to freshly prepare this dish so advanced booking is a must. Restaurants like this one that churn out pottery kebab on the spot likely precook them earlier in the day and just reheat when customers order.
Pottery Kebab: A Must-try Dish in Cappadocia, Turkey

Clay pot capped by bread dough. Not sure if the bread is meant to be eaten. Ours wasn’t very good.
Pottery Kebab: A Must-try Dish in Cappadocia, Turkey

Being in Turkey, we went with the lamb pottery kebab. They didn’t crack open the pot at this restaurant so we emptied its contents onto the plate of rice it was served with. A casserole dish, the flavors were wonderful though the meat wasn’t as tender as I expected it to be, probably because the pottery kebab wasn’t freshly made.
Pottery Kebab: A Must-try Dish in Cappadocia, Turkey

Whether or not you fly for food, testi kebab is a must-try dish in Cappadocia. We saw it being offered at many touristy restaurants in Sultanahmet in Istanbul, but being an Anatolian specialty, this is the best place to try it. As advised, look for a restaurant that requires advanced bookings for its pottery kebab. You may need to make the reservation at least three hours in advance so you can ask your hotel for help and recommendations.

For more Cappadocia travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Cappadocia, Turkey

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There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Gerry at 7:54 pm

    I dislike disagreeing with such well intentioned articles but I can only go on my own experience. I was in Turkey in September 2018 for the first time with my partner and we tried the lamb in a clay pot twice. The first was in Sultanahmet, Istanbul. We ‘walked in off the street’ and having never heard of this dish we ordered it. Well wow!! A real show as the pot was whacked and cracked and eventually poured into our dish! The flavours were amazing and the lamb melted in your mouth. I disagree that this type of dish should be freshly made to order. This dish is better for sitting.
    We loved it so much we ordered it again. This time in Goreme, Cappadocia. It was our last night after four fantastic days in Cappadocia and decided to celebrate with the clay pot lamb. Again we walked in off the street. Very disappointing. The meat was tough and the sauce tasteless. We felt it had not been cooked long enough and there was no ‘love’ in the sauce.

  2. JB & Renée Macatulad at 9:03 am

    Hi Gerry, happy to hear you enjoyed it! Our experienced more closely resembled your second – the meat was tough and the sauce uninspired. Disappointing because I could really taste and imagine how good this dish could be when done properly. I think a lot of it has to do with the quality of ingredients, and like you said, how much love the chef puts into it. Hope you enjoyed Turkey! Absolutely loved that country. 🙂

  3. Gerry at 3:22 pm

    Yes agree completely – it’s all about the quality of the ingredients. It is a fabulous dish if done well….and what a fabulous country. We definately plan to return. Still so much to see and taste! ?

  4. deepa das at 1:31 am

    Well after so many years since we visited goreme cappudocia it still remains a favorite

  5. JB & Renée Macatulad at 8:00 pm

    We know how you feel Deepa! It’s one of the few countries we’ve visited that we actually see ourselves living in. Love love love Cappadocia. 🙂

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