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I had Chicken Adana for the first time a few weeks ago at a Turkish restaurant and asked the waiter about the ingredients. It’s a habit and hobby of mine to start conversations with waiters especially when I’m at a foreign restaurant.
I like to ask them about their country and customs. I like to find out what brought them here and if they’re planning to go back. And of course, I like to ask them about the ingredients in the dish that I ate.
At home, I tried to recreate Chicken Adana based on the waiter’s description. I remembered his mention of hand-chopped chicken, minced red bell peppers, tomato paste, and Turkish spices. Not wanting to be too obtrusive I had contented myself with his vague answer about the spices.
Hand-chopped chicken? I decided I could substitute ground chicken without much harm. Minced red peppers? I could make some in the blink of an eye. Tomato paste?
I thought that was a major clue even though I discovered after the fact that he probably mistook Turkish red pepper paste, kirmizi biber salcazi, for tomato paste. As for the spices, I sort of had to fill in the blanks and count on my taste buds to decipher them.
Anyway, I was happy with my version of Chicken Adana and have no regret that I made it with tomato paste instead because it worked out beautifully and saved me the perhaps fruitless effort I would have put into finding biber.
Chicken Adana Recipe
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and stemmed
- 1/2 small yellow onion, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 8 sprigs parsley
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or dried mint
Step 1: Mince (almost grind) the red bell pepper, onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Using your hands, mix the ingredients until well combined.
Step 2:Preheat the grill OR heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Take a small handful of the chicken mixture and shape it into an 8-inch long as you’re placing it on the grill or skillet.
Step 3: If you form the log before placing it on the heat, it might break because the chicken mixture is very moist from the ground vegetables contained in it. Cook the chicken logs, 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until cooked and browned.