Guvecte Sucuklu Kuru Fasulye – Navy Bean Casserole With Sujuk

There is one common rule all over Turkey in regards to cooking dry beans: You must serve it with rice. Apart from that, there is not much of a rule. Here, I’ll pass my favorite casserole recipe with navy beans. It’s more of a winter dish, but depending on the cravings of our household, i.e. my husband, I end up cooking dry beans in summer time as well. It is perfect if you can find an earthenware bean pot in order to achieve over-the-top flavor but you’d be fine with any casserole dish. 

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Yumurtali Ispanak – Eggs With Spinach

It’s good for you, it’s green, leafy, crispy and aromatic. It releases its aroma when heated. Turks like it with yogurt, nutrition experts advice against this as yogurt will block the absorption of iron in spinach. If you wash, drain and prepare spinach leaves beforehand, eggs with spinach recipe serves as a very quick and fulfilling lunch or dinner, a very healthy option indeed. Here comes one of the most homely, motherly recipe of Turkish cuisine.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of butter

1 medium size onion, chopped finely

1/2 kg spinach leaves, washed, drained and chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 large free range organic eggs

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Hasanpasa Kofte – Meatballs topped with potato purée

I know, I’ve been the laziest blogger lately, but I am back and full of hope that you my dear readers will forgive me. It’s already May and spring isn’t here yet, around 10 degrees Celsius in Istanbul, the humidity makes it feel even colder, there is even snow in some other parts of the country.

I’ve been sick for almost 4 times in a row, each episode lasted like 10-15 days with horrible sore throat and fever. Oh spring, please come, before antibiotics destroy my body and everything “bio” in it.

Yesterday, with all this in mind I decided that eating more fish would do me good and convinced my husband and sister to go to Garipce, a small village that lies along Bosphorus’ shoreline, near the north end where the strait meets the Black Sea, to have  pan-fried Black Sea turbot, my favorite, well, one amongst a dozen of my favorites.

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Zeytinyagli Pirasa – Leeks In Olive Oil

This olive oil dish can be found on the dinner tables of most Turkish homes quite frequently at all times of the year. Just like her cousins, onion and garlic, leeks have antiseptic qualities. What’s more interesting about these long, sleek, layered tubes is that during Roman times a variant of this vegetable with opium-like qualities was consumed at the end of dinner to induce sleep. Turks, people of the Ottoman land in wider terms, also serve this olive oil braised leek dish at the end of meals. I don’t know if there is any connection between the two cuisines, Ottoman and Roman (if there is such thing) so to speak, but I should note that Ottoman Sultans, starting from Mehmet II the Conqueror, held the title “Kayser” (meaning Ceasar), referring to the Ottoman rule as the heir to Eastern Roman Empire.

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Zeytinyagli Lahana Sarma – Cabbage Rolls In Olive Oil

While I was in college, in Sydney, away from home, the idea of cabbage rolls in olive oil or  manti (sorta Turkish ravioli) would always bring that homesickness monster out which would torment me for a few hours once it stroke. Those few hours would then result in attempts of making one of the core traditional dishes of Turkish cuisine. None would turn out perfect, not even close, thanks to the ingredient quality! Still, it would be enough to calm me for a few months until another homesickness attack arrived. Last week, thinking of those days, I felt very grateful for being able to find the perfect cabbages for rolling these gorgeous sarma in the picture. No veins, lots of thin large leaves which beautifully held the rice filling… What more could I ask for? Here is how I made the sarma:

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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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Soganli Yumurta – Eggs With Onion

 

I’ve been the laziest food blogger for the last few weeks. Sorry about making you, my dear readers, stare at a couple of meatballs and gherkins for weeks. I have some good news that, maybe, compensate for my failure to post as often as I should. Ottoman Cuisine has been selected as the ‘featured blog of the day’ on Foodista.com. On December the 8th, our blog will be featured on the main page of Foodista.

I chose to celebrate the news with a very Ottoman recipe. This recipe has been revived in the last couple of years from the dusty pages of palace kitchen records. Seems very simple, cook the onions, crack the eggs, sprinkle with spices, you’re good to go? No, not so much. The original recipe calls for 4 to 6 hours of work with a lot of attention to detail. This recipe was a Ramadan specialty in palace kitchen. They say, especially on the 15th day of Ramadan, chefs from Enderun (an educational institution within Ottoman palace) prepared this dish and served it to the Sultan. If the Sultan approved the dish, the head chef of Enderun would be assigned kilercibasi (head butler) to the palace, one of the highest ranking personnel of the palace kitchen.

Here is what I like about this recipe: If you are patient enough and pay attention to each step and choose the finest ingredients, it is hard to go wrong. You do not need to be crafty, so you are not running much risk there.

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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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Cerkes Tavugu – Circassian Chicken

The answer to what makes Ottoman cuisine so special lies in the wide variety of influences ranging from the Caucasus to the Balkans, from Niles to Euphrates… Even Chinese cuisine had an impact on the Ottomans, as Turks brought an over-1000-year-old heritage from the steppes of Central Asia where they were in close contact with the Chinese. Cuisines of the Caucasus region appear as one of the hundreds of influences within the Ottoman cuisine. Georgian, Laz and Circassian people (one might want to include Armenians and Azeris as well) and their unique ways of preparing food is quite distinctive. Circassian chicken, contrary to what its name suggests, has more likely originated from Georgian territories and is a widely-known dish in today’s Turkey.

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Misir Ekmegi – Corn Bread

Corn bread is quite popular in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It’s usually made without any raising agent in most local cuisines, therefore has a hard and dry texture. But in some regions and from the Ottoman times, there are recipes calling for yeast or baking soda and cream, milk, yogurt, butter or olive oil. This one’s from Kastamonu region, turns out really soft and fluffy, better consumed quick or re-heated before being served.

Ingredients:

1 egg

2 teaspoons of sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup cream

1 cup of corn flour (finest type, sun dried or oven-roasted)

1 cup sifted wheat flour (bread type)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

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