Siron – Baked Pastry Rolls With Yogurt

Dear Reader, I can’t promise you a very exciting intro to this post, sorry but you’ll have to bear with me till the end of this memoir which I’m about to tell you.

Last year, mid-July, we, my hubs and I, were driving back to Istanbul from Gallipoli where my in-laws reside each summer. While in the car, browsing through radio channels, Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian ones… We stumbled upon one and were quite puzzled because we could swear we recognized the language, it sounded exactly like the Eastern Black Sea Region accent of Turkish. It felt like we could understand what it was saying but no, we couldn’t. Then we found out that it was the radio channel of Pontic Greeks who migrated to Greece from Black Sea Region of Turkey in the last century. There were dozens of words I could recognize in the songs besides the accent and the sound of it as a whole. “Sirona gel sirona” (come and join the siron) was one phrase upon hearing we went “hey, did you hear that?”. Yes, dear reader, Black Sea Region is where siron and Pontic Greeks come from. It is the name of both a dancing style and a manti-like dish. The song was probably talking about the dance unless the songwriter was a food-maniac like myself and took the trouble of writing a song about a dish. Oh no, even I haven’t done anything like that, yet!

I’m an epic fail when it comes to dancing, but here is the recipe to the food version of siron:

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Kestaneli Pilav – Rice with Chestnuts

You can make this with either rice or bulghur, as both produce great results. I prefer using chunks of turkey meat when making this pilaf with bulghur and if using rice, lamb meat suits better to the dish. You can also cook this pilaf as a filling for turkey, if so, I’d recommend substituting a handful of black currants with carrots.

Ingredients:

15-20 chestnuts,

250-300 g of lamb/turkey meat, cut into 3-4 cm cubes,

100 g clarified butter/ghee (regular butter would be OK),

2 carrots, julienne or cubes,

1 teaspoon of allspice powder,

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Hunkar Pilavi – Pilaf With Lamb, Pistachios and Black Currants

The other day, I decided to try a recipe from a book by Ozge Samanci and Sharon Croxford. If any of you guys remember, that is the book my husband bought for my birthday. It’s called XIX. Yuzyil Istanbul Mutfagi which translates into “19th Century Istanbul Cuisine”. I ended up playing around with the amounts and the ingredients, but still this recipe is inspired by the above-mentioned book.

Ingredients:

3.5 cups of water

300 g (around a cup) of boneless lamb meat, cut into walnut-size cubes

100 g of clarified butter (regular butter would be fine too)

A handful of pistachio nuts, shells removed

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Bademli Kayisili Pilav – Pilaf With Almonds And Apricots

We were on a short trip to Ankara during the weekend. I came to understand why my brother’s way of describing Ankara is so true,  he says the city should be called a “staff only” place. We came back to Istanbul on Sunday arvo and I decided to make soup and pilaf for dinner, easy and elegant. I ended up making chicken flavored almond and apricot pilaf. It’s a classic, yet almost forgotten by the general public in Turkey. What a shame!

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Su Boregi – Turkish Cheese Lasagna

This borek is very famous all-over Turkey, especially in the Black Sea Region, in the north. The crispy outer layers, squeaky soft layers of lasagna-like sheets, warm and melting cheese taste in-between might be the reason for its popularity. Store-bought versions are also available in Turkey and those are nothing short of being delicious, but home-made borek with the finest ingredients is always better IMHO.

So many people are intimidated by the idea of making pasta from scratch. If you can find semolina flour, it makes the process a lot easier and affects the outcome quite positively.  To get semolina flour you’ll look for ‘semola di grano duro’. Also, flour types made from the harder wheat grains are very much suitable for this borek recipe. The harder the wheat that flour is made from, the more protein and gluten it contains. Harder flour types are good for making this borek as the pastry sheets will be boiled.

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Ic Pilav – Garnished Rice

On Sunday, we were at my parents’ place. Towards iftar time, my sister was trying real hard to convince to make some ic pilav – garnished rice dish, mainly used as a filling for most stuffed vegetable and meat dishes in Ottoman cuisine. A starving and insisting sister ain’t no good. I gave up and pulled myself together despite the fatigue caused by fasting on such a long day and made her the pilav. She was happy and so was I.  Mom’s garden has the perfect lighting to photograph the food I make.

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Fellah Kofte – Bulgur Gnocchi In Garlic Tomato Sauce

Bulgur was never a favorite ingredient for chefs in the Ottoman palace. They preferred white rice over this nutritious cereal, whereas bulgur was a staple food item for the general public in the Ottoman land. Bulgur is simply parboiled, dried and partially de-branned wheat. It is available in most Western countries in natural and organic food stores, some mainstream supermarkets, Turkish, Arab and Greek grocers. It’s high in fiber and protein, makes a wonderful ingredient for a lot of vegetarian dishes.

Fellah Kofte is a widely known recipe in Eastern Mediterranean region of Anatolia in places such as Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Adana, Mersin and Hatay. The recipe calls for fine-ground bulgur, (“#1 Fine Grind” in the U.S. and “koftelik bulgur” in Turkey). It’s easy to make and the outcome is definitely worth the effort.

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