Imam Bayildi – Stuffed Aubergines In Olive Oil

Here comes one of the most famous olive oil dishes in Turkish cuisine: Imam Bayildi, literally means “the Muslim cleric fainted”. There is a dozen of stories surrounding the name of this meze, some claim that the imam in the tale fainted because he was so overcome with the flavor of this dish, some other accounts focus on the cost of the ingredients. Imam bayildi has also been an inspiration to the confit byaldi dish in modern French cuisine.

Nowadays people have no time to cook such classic dishes and follow the original recipes religiously. Imam bayildi would still taste good even if you skip adding pine nuts or nutmeg, but IMHO we should pay our respects to the cooks of the Ottoman palace by sticking to the original recipe as much as we could, trust me, there is a reason for every ingredient to be there in the recipe. I think, cooking is about great attention to detail, picking the finest ingredients and treating them the way they deserve to be treated.

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Taratorlu Deniz Borulcesi – Marsh Samphire With Tartar Sauce

Meze dishes are the stars of Ottoman cuisine. The word meze refers to side dishes that accompany alcoholic beverages or main dishes. The other day, I saw a news report on a national TV channel saying that some freaks (yeah I am jealous, I should have thought of that before those guys) decided to take the Guinness challenge of cooking 1500 mezes in one day, original recipes from Ottoman cuisine and they succeeded. I am sure this samphire meze was one of those 1500 dishes. It’s a widely available dish in Turkey, especially at seafood restaurants. I suppose the plant is also quite common in the UK and Australia, I don’t know about the US though. In  Turkey the best deniz borulcesi, i.e. marsh samphire, is available in spring through early summer. The greener the better, as it reddens it gets saltier and coarser, you wouldn’t want that on your plate, considering the stringy bits in the cores of the stalks. Another trick is buying or picking them with the roots still intact, as this makes the process of removing the strings easier. If you ever decide to make this into a salad or meze, make sure that you season it with garlic, the two go really nice together.

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Visneli Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarma – Stuffed Vine Leaves With Sour Cherries

This one’s absolutely my favorite! No need for an introduction paragraph, here it is, with all its glory, a unique Istanbul delicacy. Olive oil meets onion, rice, pine nuts, black currants, herbs and spices and the delicious sweet and sour filling is embraced by grape vine leaves and garnished with sour cherries. Divine! I’ve always wondered who came up with this idea first? To roll all that goodness into the leaves of some climbing plant. I wish I could thank him/her for making me fatter! Anyhoo… Making stuffed vine leaves in olive oil with sour cherries is not that hard, it is just time consuming and needs great attention to detail.

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Zeytinyagli Enginar – Artichokes In Olive Oil

We spent the weekend in Gallipoli at my in-laws, thinking a lot about what to put up on the blog as my first entry. What unique Ottoman relish could introduce my readers to the world of Turkish food? Calling Ottoman Cuisine “Turkish” is simply inadequate as it has a diverse fountain of treasures from the Balkans, the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia, Europe and even China. Today, Turks are a bit conservative when it comes to food, fortunately our ancestors were not.

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