Kosebasi: Anatolian in Arabia

IMG_9097Kosebasi, a grill serving South Anatolian Turkish cuisine, is a chain restaurant that first opened in Turkey in 1995. Based on its success and popularity at home, it began expanding to international locations in 2008, according to its website.

Today it has several branches in the Arabian Gulf countries. Its Abu Dhabi restaurant opened just over one year ago in the upscale food court of a large mall in the heart of the UAE capital.

But Kosebasi isn’t your average food court stop.

Its menu is filled with the Turkish classics, with atmosphere to match. The entrance is hung with blue glass lanterns, against a backdrop of small mosaic tiles. Arched seating areas allow for privacy and a cool visual division of the space. Purple lampshades and blue cushions accent white laminate tables.

IMG_9070The mixed chicken grill platter has chicken three different ways – chicken kofta (with the meat hand-minced and shaped into a long cylinder before grilling), chicken saslik (skewers of meat rubbed with Turkish spices, paprika and salt), and shish tawook (chicken brushed with milk, sweet chilli and some sunflower oil before grilling). The massive portion includes chunks of chicken charred to perfection on the outside, which seals in the flavor and keeps the meat juicy. That platter is served with a whole grilled tomato, roasted green chili, a parsley-onion salad, and a mound of tomato-flavored sweet bulgur.

Kosebasi also serves a Turkish variation on the creamy eggplant spread moutabal – oven-roasted eggplants are mashed with roasted garlic, and then yogurt and labneh cheese are stirred into the mixture (rather than the sesame sauce tahina, which is the typical addition in other Middle Eastern recipes). Served chilled, it makes for a light, creamy spread for the piping hot pita bread served straight from the oven.IMG_9051

The kibba are another variation on a dish common in the Levant - mixed ground lamb and beef meatballs, coated in a bulgur wheat and semolina crust and deep-fried. Kosebasi’s kibba are nothing like the Lebanese version – the meat is mixed with a heavy tomato paste and chopped red and green bell peppers before being shaped into the kibba balls.IMG_9101 Like spices?  Ask for hot sauce and you’ll receive a plate that contains a bottle of Tabasco wedged between four ramekin containers filled with Turkish spices, with a spoon. The server will explain that these are the four key spices used in Turkish cuisine, and that diners should sprinkle them onto their meals generously, to the desired intensity. Nevermind that none of the waiters are Turkish and most can’t identify which of the spices is which – all are delicious and complement an excellent meal, uniquely prepared, with fresh ingredients.IMG_9096

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Kosebasi: see the menu
Address: Hazza bin Zayed (11th) Street, Al Wahda Mall, 2nd floor Extension, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 674 1321
Website: www.kosebasi.com
Price: $$
Camels Fire: red_chili_pepper

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