Kestane Corbasi – Chestnut Soup

This chestnut soup recipe is nearly forgotten in the cities but in some rural areas, families still make it in cold winter days. Nutty, earthen flavors of chestnut and poultry match great with the juicy, sweet, acidic aroma of sour apples.

Ingredients:

1/2 kg of chestnuts

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 apple, sour type, peeled, cored and grated

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

2 cups of chicken broth

1 tablespoon of corn/wheat starch

1 teaspoon of salt

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Published in: on December 23, 2010 at 1:43 am  Comments (1)  
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Fava – Broad Beans Spread

Fava beans: Friend or foe? I like listing the health benefits of the main ingredient in my recipes. In this case, I should also list the potential hazards caused by fava beans or broad beans. For those who have a hereditary condition called G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency) fava beans can induce a fatal condition called “favism”, a type of anemia, as you may have already guessed, the condition is named after “fava”.

But for the rest of us, broad beans are a good source of protein and other healthy stuff, beneficial for those with Parkinson’s disease or hypertension. Some even say fava beans can be used as a natural alternative to the V drug, based on a proposed link between one’s libido and a substance found in fava beans. I don’t know if that’s true, you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Fava beans are also used in fortune telling by gypsies on the streets of Turkey. So, quite a miracle legume, both revealing your future and aiding you in your love life. Joking aside, I’ll just give out a decent, innocent meze recipe, made with fava beans.

I am not a drinker myself, firstly for religious reasons. But sometimes, I feel grateful to Turkish drinkers of raki, tough. Why? Because if not for those people, great meze recipes would have long gone lost. Except for a few of those mezes, Turkish homecooks and no-alcohol restaurants do not pay much attention to this category of Turkish cuisine. A good, forget about “good”, a decent topik (chickpea pâté filled with caramelized onions, currants and pine nuts and dusted with cinnamon) or tarama (another meze made with fish roe) are very hard to find nowadays, in regular restaurants. You either have to find the recipe and the ingredients and make it yourself or go to a meyhane (Turkish pub) to find those dishes. A good fava is not very easy to find either.

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Humus – Chickpea Spread With Tahini

Humus, originally a Middle Eastern meze, “is high in iron and vitamin C, and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. Garbanzo beans make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, an excellent source of amino acid, complementing the proteins in chickpeas”, says Wikipedia. Humus is a very convenient food for those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan diet and like other combinations of grains and pulses, when eaten with bread it serves as a complete protein. It’s great for your digestive system as well.

Its creamy texture and earthy, yet rich, flavor balances great with the mild and acidic flavors of olive oil and lemon juice. I am always up for regional staple food recipes as they are usually amazingly well balanced both in terms of health and taste. I am not a drinker at all, but some say, humus when eaten with alcoholic beverages helps avoid a nasty hangover.

Here goes the recipe for humus:

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Tulumba Tatlisi – Fluted Fritters In Syrup

While we were in Kahramanmaras, we went on a day trip to a place called “Icme” which literally means “drinking / to drink”.  No no, it’s not a bars street, there is a spring resort in “Icme”. People travel to the place from all over South Eastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean region just to drink and possibly take back home as much mineral water as they can to restore or  preserve their health.

The mineral water in Icme is quite bitter and not very pleasant to drink. Locals came up with a solution to this. Just next to the main spring, there are dozens of stalls selling sweets, especially in-syrup types, providing the visitors with a chance to get as thirsty as possible. They serve generous  amounts of sweets followed by bottles of mineral water, fresh from the springs. So if you survive the glucose coma,  you’ll have drunk lots of water from the fountain of health. Yeah, I am all for healthy living, so give me more of that dessert!

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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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Sumakli Nar Eksili Semizotu Salatasi – Fresh Purslane Salad

I made this last weekend at my parents’ place and everybody loved it. Fresh Purslane Salad with walnuts is a regional recipe from South Eastern Turkey, I don’t know if Ottoman palace chefs made purslane this way, but I know that there is an extremely delicious meze recipe calling for purslane, yogurt and garlic. I’ll write about that later. This one is simple, delicious. Highly recommended if you like sour and nutty salads and if you have access to these ingredients.

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Irmik Tatlisi – Semolina Pudding

I’ve always been a dairy fan. I can’t go one day without milk, yogurt or cheese. My dear hubs is lactose intolerant, so making milk desserts all the time is a bit unfair. Besides, I’ve come to notice that I can still survive with less dairy intake. I can’t really say I have a sweet tooth, so spending a lot of time in the kitchen for making desserts is not my cup of tea. This one’s different though, milk calms down the taste of sugar a bit and it makes a wonderful light dessert. There are other ways as well of using semolina as a dessert ingredient in Turkish cuisine. It goes into savory recipes and even meat dishes as well.

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Erikli Kuzu Yahni – Lamb In Plum Sauce

 

I lived an almost vegetarian life till I was 18. I was thinking that eating beef and chicken was gross. Chewing on an animal’s flesh? Yuck! Lamb? Unthinkable! I was in Sydney, studying at university, something got into me and suddenly becoming a carnivore didn’t seem to be so bad after all. I started with chicken and now I am a big fan of lamb! A properly cooked juicy tender leg of lamb dish is my early ticket to heaven.

For those of you who think that lamb stinks, there is an exclusive breed of sheep native to the Thracian part of Turkey (Edirne, Kirklareli, Tekirdag and Istanbul) called Kivircik (kivirjik) smell of which is almost indistinguishable from beef. It resembles the Castilian “churra, less fatty, but still tender and juicy. Heavenly!

A combination of meat and fruits always appealed to my taste buds. This dish reminds me of the Chinese version, this one is closer to my cultural upbringing for sure. Here is the traditional Turkish / Ottoman way of combining plums with lamb:

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Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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