There is a well-known dish from Diyarbakır called lebeni çorbası; it is basically a yoghurt-based soup meant to be served cold. Once you taste it, you will definitely want more.
So, if you want to indulge in this soup in İstanbul, there is Lebeni Kebap. It is a place that provides an oasis for the palate in Büyükçekmece.
Let us first talk a bit about lebeni soup itself in some further depth. It is a soup that can be eaten either hot or cold; hot, it warms the stomach, and cold, it cools you down when you need some cooling. The yoghurt works to soothe the stomach. It features softened chickpeas in it, and the soup must be both sweet and rather oily, otherwise the taste of the chickpeas will be ruined.
Lebeni Kebap can seat 150 people and has a 75-person VIP room, making it an ideal spot for larger meetings and gatherings. In fact, their VIP room is often used for evening events, with folk songs from southeastern Turkey accompanying food and talk.
When you are first seated at Lebeni, you will have hot puff bread and butter, as well as both tulum and eritme cheeses brought to your table. You will adore the taste of the buttery lentil soup that you can start with as well. In fact, the first spoonful of this soup will give you a hint as to the general direction your eating will take you here. Personally, I loved the içli köfte (a bulgur wheat shell filled with minced, spiced lamb) and kuru patlıcan dolma (dried eggplant stuffed with rice and minced meat) the most.
It should be added that there is a wide variety of kebabs available at the restaurant as well. I ordered some haşhaşlı kebab (kebab with poppy seeds) and the house special, Lebeni’s mixed kebab, deciding I would come back at a later date to try the kebabs with pistachios, eggplant and minced meat.
The haşhaşlı kebab is made from cleaver-cut ground beef, and the taste is just incredible. Interestingly, the meat on this kebab has no spices; the real focus is on the taste of the meat itself, and it works! The meat used by this restaurant comes from livestock kept in the Balıkesir region, and the marinating done on it is superb.
Of the pan-cooked meat available, my favorites on the menu were the sac tava (fried stew) and Kilis tava (a large, flattened meatball topped with tomatoes and peppers).
While many of these sorts of restaurants offer lahmacun (Turkish pizza) as a side dish, the lahmacun I ate here was really fantastic in its own right. Top all of these tastes off with some delicious desserts, such as katmer (thin layers of phyllo dough with cheese and pistachios) or künefe (a dessert served hot made from cheese and pastry), and I guarantee it will not be long before you come back for more.
Every kind of kebab imaginable
Lebeni is the place to go when you are in the mood for delicious regional dishes and, of course, kebab. They know how to cook and marinate meat here. Personally, I recommend trying the famous haşhaşlı kebab for the way it highlights and celebrates meat in its own right.
And, of course, don’t forget to have yourself a bowl of the lebeni soup after which the restaurant is named. Note that you can get breakfast all day here, and that the restaurant offers its own car park and mescid as well.
On the menu:
Lentil soup: TL 3
Lebeni soup: TL 3
Salads: TL 5-8
Lebeni’s mixed kebab: TL 30
Pan-fried meat: TL 15
Steak: TL 17
Kilis-style pan-fried meat: TL 15
Kebab with yoghurt or ezmeli kebab: TL 15
Alinazik kebab or beyti kebab: TL 17
Kebab with eggplant and pistachio: TL 16
Kebab with poppy seeds and vegetables: TL 15
Adana or Urfa kebab: TL 14
İçli köfte: TL 3
Künefe: TL 6
Katmer: TL 14
Drinks: TL 2.50
Treat your palate right at Lebeni:
Pınartepe Mah. İstanbul Cad. Vista 4 Residence No: 7
Beykent-Gürpınar, Büyükçekmece, İstanbul
Tel: 0212 856 06 00 www.lebenikebap.com