Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe. Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe Made in Istanbul

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Our spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgur recipe makes juicy lamb chops marinated in spices and grilled. I serve the chops with bulgur, which I’ve flavoured with stock and a little of the spice mix used to flavour the lamb, and smoky eggplant and bell peppers, yoghurt, and fresh continental parsley.

This spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgur recipe was made in our Istanbul apartment for our series called The Dish, on the quintessential dishes of places we settle into, however, it was also inspired by our travels in Turkey over a number of years, including a couple of months on the coast of Southern Turkey.

We’ve spent a lot of time in Turkey over the years. Not running around doing the tourist trail – we did that in the late 1990s – but travelling slowly. Our last stay was particularly memorable, because we really settled into a couple of places and barely travelled at all and it was wonderful.

We spent a month at our friends’ lovely holiday house in Kaş on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, and we topped and tailed that stay in an atmospheric restored Ottoman-era house in the old town of Antalya for a month and a half. Both places had fantastic kitchens.

We were writing up a Cyprus guidebook that we’d researched before arriving in Turkey, as well as working on some stories, and it was late winter going into early spring, so we were spending a lot of time at ‘home’, or rather, making ourselves at home.

We do this every now and again – when we’re not on yearlong grand tours, that is! – and those periods are always great for me to learn to cook local dishes and to find ways to take inspiration from local recipes and local ingredients and tailor them to our tastes.

It was actually on our last Southern Turkey trip when I first made this spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgur recipe, not during this current Istanbul stay… let me explain…

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe Made in Istanbul for The Dish

We’ve been eating out a lot here in Istanbul (how can we not living where we are?), however, it’s impossible for me to not also draw inspiration from our previous experiences in Turkey when it comes to thinking about what I’m going to make for The Dish, our series on the quintessential dishes from each destination we settle into for a couple of weeks on this global grand tour.

The Turkish love their meaty main courses and one item that’s always on the menu is some form of lamb chop. Our local butchers in both Kaş and Antalya had become our favourite butchers because of their quality lamb chops and the tasty little scoops of spice mix that they would give me in a plastic bag to marinate the chops in.

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe. Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

When eating out in Turkey you generally share the chops, along with kebabs and other grilled meats, with your dining companions, however, I wanted to make a lamb chop dish that stood on it’s own.

The meat needed a supporting cast of vegetables and some kind of grain for carbohydrates. Enter burghul, or bulgur.

In the Middle East this form of wheat grain, which can come in different size grinds, is mainly seen in tabbouleh salad and kibbeh. In Turkey, it’s mostly used for salads, as well as a filling base for some soups.

I enjoy using it like couscous – as a rather anodyne grain that can be enhanced to compliment the main flavour of a dish, by adding, say, preserved lemon to the couscous to have it with chicken or fish, for instance.

In this case, I use stock to flavour the bulgur and add a little of the spice mix (below) to give it a little kick. More on that in my tips to making this spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgur recipe for our latest edition of The Dish.

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe. Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tips to Making this Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe

When looking for vegetables to go with this spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgur recipe, I felt that Turkey’s wonderful eggplants and bell peppers were the best compliment.

I just love these grilled over an open fire, but in our Istanbul apartment, which has the tiniest kitchen we’ve had this year, the stove top had to do.

The spice mix I used for the version I made here in Istanbul actually came from a wonderful spice shop at the Egyptian market called Ucuzucar (details in our Istanbul Markets post here), where they make up their own spice mixes, but here’s a mix that I often use myself:

2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon of red chilli flakes or pul biber as it’s called in Turkey

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe. Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

I like toasting the spice mix in a frypan a little as it brings out the flavour more. I then mix the spices with olive oil and marinate the chops in the oil and spice mix overnight.

Turkish butchers like to flatten their chops to promote even cooking times. When they do, I find that they cook very quickly both on a grill or in a pan, and all that’s usually needed is just a couple of minutes a side then rest them in a warm place for a couple of minutes.

If you want to really jazz up the dish for a dinner party, you could use a rack of lamb, with each guest getting the equivalent of three decent chops.

I actually prefer using racks instead of chops because you can control the cooking time better by using a thermometer to check cooking temperatures and get more of the actual lamb flavour, but Lara loves her chops and the flavour of the spice that comes through with each chop.

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe. Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Note that if you have guests who don’t eat red meat, you can do this dish with a firm fish such as monkfish — but don’t forget to substitute vegetable stock for the beef stock to make the bulgur!

I really love this spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgur recipe. The balance of meat, veg and carbohydrates is great, but I also love the fact that you can dress it up for a dinner party or dress it down for a casual BBQ.

One more thing: if you want to make my Istanbul Weekend Eggs recipe, prep a double batch of eggplants and bell peppers, as you’ll need them!

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe. Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe

AuthorTerence Carter
The Turkish love lamb chops. In this dish we marinate the lamb with one of their classic spice mixes and serve it with bulgur – a grain not often used outside Turkey.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Turkish
Servings made with recipe4
Calories 954 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Spice Mix

  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp of red chilli flakes - pul biber – as it’s called in Turkey

Other ingredients

  • 3 lamb chops per person or equivalent racks of lamb - see above
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 cups bulgur – medium grain
  • 2 cups stock - light beef stock preferred
  • 1 tbsp butter - to finish the bulgur
  • 250 g plain yoghurt
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil - for marinating the lamb

Instructions
 

  • Toast the spice mix.
  • Mix the spice mix with olive oil; just enough to wet the mix through.
  • Spread the mix over the lamb chops and marinate for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  • Slice the eggplants into rounds as thick as your finger. Place on a plate and sprinkle with rock salt. After half an hour, pat with a kitchen towel, turn the eggplant slices over, and repeat on the other side.*
  • Cooking the bulgur depends on the grain size, so follow the instructions on the packet. Sometimes there are two methods — either pouring the boiling stock or water over the bulgur, or adding the (cold) stock or water to the bulgur and cooking for 10–20 minutes. Either method works fine.
  • Remove the tops off the peppers and slice into quarters. Grill over a high flame.
  • Remove the marinated chops from the fridge and bring up to room temperature before grilling.
  • Dry off the eggplant slices and grill on both sides. You can now keep the peppers and eggplant warm on an oven tray until ready to serve.
  • Heat your pan or BBQ and grill or barbecue the chops over a high heat. Single chops will probably only need a couple of minutes in a moderate oven to finish, while the rack might need about 15 minutes before resting time.
  • While the lamb is resting, finish the bulgur by mixing in the butter. Add a little spice mix to the bulgur as well, but go easy as the chops are the main event.
  • Spoon some bulgur on each (warmed) plate. Top with the vegetables and the chops. Add a scoop of yoghurt and some sprigs of parsley. The yoghurt is great for a bit of relief from the spiciness of the chops and the parsley gives another dimension to the flavour of the dish.

Notes

Serve with a full-bodied Shiraz.
*Some people say it’s unnecessary to draw out the moisture a little if you have good eggplants. I disagree. I’ve never met an eggplant that hasn’t benefitted from it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 954kcalCarbohydrates: 68.4gProtein: 82.5gFat: 39.5gSaturated Fat: 13.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 25.7gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 679mgFiber: 17.2gSugar: 9.4g

Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our spicy Turkish lamb chops with bulgar recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.

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AUTHOR BIO

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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

4 thoughts on “Spicy Turkish Lamb Chops with Bulgur Recipe Made in Istanbul”

  1. I really struggle with the texture of eggplant, I have tried so many times to cook with it but it always ends up spongy or mushy.

  2. Thanks for your comment.
    A ribbed grill pan or BBQ is the best (also adds a bit of a smoky flavor which is delicious). Often eggplant ends up spongy or mushy because of the water content still in the eggplant and it ‘boils’ the eggplant – hence my tip.
    Some chefs says it’s a waste of time to draw the moisture out of the eggplants, but I’ve being doing them this way forever and have never had a problem.
    PS: Dug the ceviche post on your site!

  3. This looks like a perfect winter warmer dish. I can’t wait to try it this weekend and I’ll let you know how the eggplant consistency turns out.5 stars

  4. As someone who gets to eat this regularly, I can vouch that it’s a great winter dish. Do let us know how it turns out!

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