Turkish Style Rack of Lamb is a savory alternative to the more commonly flavored rack of lamb chops we are accustomed to. The spicy seasoning combined with the tangy yogurt and bright mint is pleasingly flavorful to say the least.
Lamb and Turkish Food
Lamb is meat of choice in Turkish cuisine. If you are not fond of lamb, you can certainly adapt this recipe to chicken or beef. I developed this lamb recipe after reading a book on Turkish cuisine and travel given to me by my dear friend Teslime, a once Fullbright student at the university where I work. Since I will not have the good fortune of going to Turkey in the foreseeable future, I decided to bring Turkey to me for the time being. Turkey has multiple culinary influences, not only due to its geographical location as a bridge between two continents (Europe and Asia) but once also as a key part of the commercial route known as the Spice Road
My Turkish Style rack of lamb recipe is really easy to make and pairs well with a simple side of steamed carrots and rice pilaf or couscous which is my personal preference. The only tricky part in this culinary adventure is cooking the lamb to its perfect medium rare temperature which will make it tender, juicy and delicious!
Ingredients you'll need
The spices are such that anyone who dabbles in the kitchen even a little bit will most likely have on hand. The carrots are just sliced, steamed and served topped with a sprinkle of dill. In order to depart from the Western tradition, of multiple serving dishes, I like to serve all the components of this meal together on a large serving platter, just as you see above. If you want to keep true to the Turkish tradition, you can serve this dish with tea. Turkish coffee and baklava are a perfect ending, but that is the subject of another post.
Step by step photos:
- Gather all the ingredients and have them measured, chopped and ready to go.
- Mix together the cumin, red pepper flakes and oregano.
- Add the oil to the spices and combine thoroughly.
- Place the lamb in a glass dish and rub the spice mixture over all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours to marinate. Overnight marinating will work just fine too.
- Add the yogurt to a bowl and mix in the minced garlic.
- Stir the chopped mint into the yogurt and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan on high heat and brown the lamb on one side for 4 minutes. Flip over and brown the bottom for another 4 minutes on high.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the internal temperature reaches 120°F. I like insert a temperature probe deep into the middle of the loin to monitor as shown. My favorite is my Smartro cooking thermometer.
- While cooking feel free to hold up with some tongs to brown the bottom of the loin also.
- Once the internal temperature hits 120°F place in a ceramic or glass dish then cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Frequently asked questions:
- How long can I store the lamb in the refrigerator? Cool the lamb completely before refrigerating. Seal in an airtight container and it will keep nicely for 3-4 days.
- Can I freeze the cooked lamb? Yes, it will store nicely for 2-3 months if wrapped tightly or vacuum packages.
- How do I reheat the lamb? Reheat the lamb in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and stop to check every 30-45 seconds until hot. Once reheated do not cool and store again in the refrigerator, consume it right away. So only reheat the amount you will consume.
If you want to explore other Turkish recipes here are a few more to try or bookmark for later. Turkish meat pastries ( Talas Kebabi) are a close cousin of the typical Latin American/Spanish empanada. Portakal Salatsi or Turkish orange and onion salad is a great addition to any summer menu. It’s light, refreshing, and a nice deviation from the usual greens. The sweet and savory combination of flavors is amazing! The simple dressing of olive oil, and herbs doesn’t overshadow the sweetness of the oranges. Ezme is a Turkish tomato and pepper relish or salsa that is out of this world. Think of it as salsa’s Turkish cousin. I have a video on how to make this in a flash too. Enjoy!
Turkish Style Rack of Lamb Recipe
This is one of my favorite way to prepare rack of lamb and it is very easy to make. The spices and herbs combined with the mint yogurt sauce bring some great flavors to this Turkish stye rack of lamb.
Mint and Yogurt dip:
- 6 oz of plain Greek yogurt paleo diet: coconut cream
- 2 Tbsp fresh chopped mint
- 1 small garlic clove minced
* You can serve this with a side of steamed vegetables instead of couscous for a paleo diet friendly option.
Prepare the marinade:
In a small bowl mix 3 Tbsp. olive oil, ground cumin, oregano and crushed red pepper.
Place rack of lamb in a rectangular glass dish. Coat both sides of the lamb with the spice/herb mixture. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours. You can leave it to marinate overnight too.
Prepare the yogurt sauce:
- Make the yogurt dip by combining yogurt, mint and garlic and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Cooking the lamb:
- Heat remaining olive oil in a large pan over high heat and brown meat on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.
Turn heat down to medium and cook until the internal temperature of the meat is about 120° F.
Remove lamb from pan and place on a cutting board or glass dish. Cover and allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes.
Slice lamb into individual portions between the ribs bones into single chops.
Serve with mint yogurt dip. A side of couscous and steamed carrots make great side dishes.¼
For the couscous, make according to package instructions.
The steamed carrots are very simple. Peel and slice the carrots into ¼ inch slices. Place them in a sauce pan with about 1 inch of water. Simmer on medium heat until tender. Add more water if needed. Check with a fork for tenderness. Drain and serve with a sprinkle of dill and butter.
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Originally published June 2014 and updated December 2020.