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Ali Nazik Kebab; lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree

Alinazik or Ali Nazik kebab is a scrumptious Gaziantep specialty and one of our favorites. It is a delicious marriage of char-grilled smoked eggplant puree mixed with yoghurt and topped with tender lamb stew. We serve Alinazik with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables aside. It really is a feast to all senses and a special dish to share.

I was curious where the name Ali Nazik came from and found two different stories. One of them dates back to 16th century Ottoman Empire, during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim. On a trip to the city of Antep, (today’s Gaziantep in Turkey), the Sultan was greeted with this local delicacy of delicious eggplant and yogurt mash with grilled lamb over. Sultan Selim liked the dish so much and asked “Who’s ‘gentle hand’ (“eli nazik” in Turkish) made this?” The story tells that the name, ‘ali nazik,’ has stuck since then.

Another story says that is that the name was adopted from the old Ottoman Turkish language, where ‘ala’ meant ‘beautiful’ and ‘nazik’ meant ‘food.’ Over the centuries, this turned to ‘ali nazik’ (In modern Turkish, ‘nazik’ means ‘polite,’ thus the meaning ‘polite Ali’).

Smoky eggplant puree with garlicy yoghurt is a match made in heaven.

Smoky eggplant puree with garlicy yoghurt is a match made in heaven.

The highlight of this dish for us is the delicious smoked eggplant puree, mashed with plain yoghurt (strained or thick, creamy yoghurt is recommended. Brand Fage works well). To get the smoky flavor for the eggplants, I highly recommend roasting them over a coal fire (here’s how to roast the eggplant over the burner) or over the gas burner (In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook if you can get it). It makes a bit of a mess but the smoky taste of the eggplants is well worth it. You can cook the eggplants a day ahead of time. Once mashed, mix with juice of ½ lemon to help retain its color and keep in the fridge, covered.

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender pieces of lamb stew served over the smoked eggplant and garlic yoghurt puree

Ali Nazik Kebab; tender pieces of lamb stew served over the smoked eggplant and garlic yoghurt puree

Traditionally, stewed tender pieces of lamb in a sauce are used in Ali Nazik, though you may replace it with a meat of your choice. The creamy eggplant and yoghurt puree is just heavenly with the meat topping, hope you enjoy Ali Nazik.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Ali Nazik Kebab; lamb stew over smoked eggplant and yoghurt puree
 
Ali Nazik Kebab, a southern Turkish specialty from Gaziantep region, is a feast to all senses. The smoky eggplant and garlicky yoghurt puree provide a delicious base for the tender lamb stew, placed over the top. Served with grilled vegetables and plain rice, Ali Nazik is a delicious and impressive kebab to enjoy.
Author:
Recipe type: Traditional Turkish Kebabs
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the eggplant and yoghurt puree:
  • 4 medium purple eggplants
  • 16 fl. oz. / 2 cup thick, whole milk yoghurt (brand Fage works well)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely diced
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the meat topping:
  • 450gr/1 lb. small chunks of lamb (or meat of your choice)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper paste or 2 tsp. chili flakes (optional, if you like a spicy taste)
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the roasted vegetables:
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 green, yellow and red bell peppers, deseeded and quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. First prepare the eggplants. Place the eggplants or aubergines directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Use metal tongs to turn the eggplants around so that all sides would cook evenly and the skin is nicely chargrilled. Cook until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft (you can also cook this way over barbeque).
  4. Remove the cooked eggplants to a colander to allow them to cool. Once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain its bitter juices. I like to gently squeeze the eggplant flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  5. Chop the flesh of the eggplant and mix in the chopped garlic, season with salt and ground black pepper. Combine well, cover and set aside until the lamb stew is ready (If you’d like to prepare the eggplants a day ahead of time, then mix the eggplant mash with juice of ½ lemon to help retain its color and keep in the fridge, covered).
  6. To roast the vegetables, spread the quartered and sliced onions, tomatoes and peppers in a tray and stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and ground black pepper and combine well. Roast at the preheated oven (180 C/ 350 F) for 30 – 35 minutes.
  7. For the lamb stew, cut the lamb into chunky, generous bite size pieces.
  8. Pour in 2 tbsp. olive oil in a wide, heavy pan and stir in the diced onions. Sauté over medium to high heat for 3 minutes, the onions will start to soften.
  9. Stir in the lamb pieces and sauté with the onions for 5 minutes, mixing regularly. The lamb will release its juice.
  10. Add the red pepper paste and/or red pepper flakes (if using) and tomato paste to the pan, combine well. Check the seasoning and turn the heat to low. Stir in 2 tbsp. water, combine and cover the pan. Simmer the lamb gently for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  11. Just before serving, pour in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and gently reheat the eggplant & garlic puree until it is hot. Turn the heat off and stir the yoghurt to the eggplant pure and combine well.
Notes
To get the smoky flavor for the eggplants, I highly recommend roasting them over a coal fire or over the gas burner (In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook if you can get it). It makes a bit of a mess but the smoky taste of the eggplants is well worth it. You can cook the eggplants a day ahead of time. Once mashed, mix with juice of ½ lemon to help retain its color and keep in the fridge, covered.

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Halloumi Salad with peppers and tomatoes – Hellim Peynirli Salata

Halloumi Cheese Salad with rocket, peppers, spring onions, tomatoes; a delicious treat.

Halloumi Cheese Salad with rocket, peppers, spring onions, tomatoes; a delicious treat.

I love the distinctive taste of the halloumi cheese or hellim peyniri as we call in Turkish, it is such a treat. Originated in Cyprus, halloumi is a semi hard cheese, made from the mixture of goat and sheep’s and sometimes cow milk. As it has a high melting point, it is wonderful when grilled or lightly sautéed; a real treat we enjoyed while we were at the Aegean coast of Turkey.

Halloumi is a popular cheese also in the Middle East, as well as in Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. It is also good to see its increasing popularity in the UK and the US.

I like serving grilled or cooked halloumi with a plain, crunchy salad; it makes an easy, delicious starter or accompanies main courses well. Halloumi cheese has a distinctive, quite salty and rich taste and pairs well with sweet bell peppers, spring (green) onions and juicy tomatoes. Rocket, watercress, spinach all work well in this salad. A simple dressing of zesty lemon juice, oregano and olive oil is all you need as a dressing. You may also wish to sprinkle some red pepper flakes, Turkish pul biber over, if you fancy a spicy kick. Then close your eyes and imagine yourself at the Aegean or Mediterranean; it does the trick for me and tickles our taste buds every time.

Cook the halloumi  1 -2 minutes each side until nicely browned; serve immediately over the salad.

Cook the halloumi 1 -2 minutes each side until nicely browned; serve immediately over the salad.

Tip: The trick with the halloumi cheese is that you need to serve it as soon as it is grilled or cooked; while the cheese is warm and crispy outside and soft and juicy inside. If you wait longer, it will start to get harder and you will start to lose the texture and flavors. Therefore, make sure to get your salad ready first before cooking the halloumi cheese and serve straight.

Gumusluk, over looking Tavsan Adasi, Bodrum - Turkey

Gumusluk, over looking Tavsan Adasi, Bodrum – Turkey

I hope you enjoy this easy (and gluten-free) grilled halloumi salad, packed with flavor. And I hope it helps hanging on to that summer feeling, that sunny outlook, no matter the weather.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Halloumi Salad with peppers and tomatoes – Hellim Peynirli Salata
 
I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious and gluten - free salad with cooked Halloumi Cheese. Halloumi cheese is packed with flavor and as it has a high melting point, it is wonderful when grilled or lightly sauteed. Enjoy it over this simple salad with juicy tomatoes and sweet peppers. The salad makes a great appetizer or accompanies main courses well.
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy and easy Mediterranean Salads with Halloumi Cheese
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 110 gr/ 4 oz. halloumi cheese, drained and pat dried with paper towel
  • 110 gr/ 4 oz. rocket, watercress or spinach leaves
  • ½ red bell (or pointy) pepper, ½ yellow or green bell pepper, deseeded, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 spring (green) onions, trimmed, washed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil (to cook the halloumi cheese)
  • For dressing:
  • 30ml/ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (you can use a little less if you prefer)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp. Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber or chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Crusty bread to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the rocket, spinach leaves or watercress (or a combination) in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in the sliced peppers, chopped spring (green) onions and tomatoes, combine well.
  3. Add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, dried oregano, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Toss well to combine everything thoroughly. Set aside until the halloumi is ready.
  4. Drain the juices of the halloumi cheese and pat dry gently with a paper towel. Cut the cheese into 6-8 small chunky slices.
  5. Pour in 1 tbsp. olive oil in a heavy pan over high heat.
  6. Once the pan is hot, add the halloumi slices and cook 1 -2 minutes each side until nicely browned.
  7. Place the cooked halloumi over the salad and sprinkle with red pepper flakes or chili flakes if you like.
  8. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Notes
The trick with the halloumi cheese is that you need to serve it as soon as it is grilled or cooked; while the cheese is warm and crispy outside and soft and juicy inside. If you wait longer, it will start to get harder and you will start to lose the texture and flavors. Therefore, make sure to get your salad ready first before cooking the halloumi cheese and serve straight.

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Turkish Flat Breads with Spinach, Feta and Peppers; Peynirli Pide

Turkish flatbreads with feta, spinach, onion and peppers; Peynirli ve Sebzeli Pide

Turkish flatbreads with feta, spinach, onion and peppers; Peynirli ve Sebzeli Pide

Pide is one of the most popular snacks and our slow cooked “fast food” in Turkey. In Rural Anatolia and at my home town Antakya, locals would prepare the filling and take it to their local bakery, firin to be baked as these delicious flat breads with toppings. There are also “Pideci” Turkish flat bread shops that solely bake and serve these flat breads. Great value, delicious and nutritious, we can’t get enough of pides.

Feta cheese, onions, spinach and peppers make a delicious vegetarian topping for the Pide, Turkish flat breads.

Feta cheese, onions, spinach and peppers make a delicious vegetarian topping for the Pide, Turkish flat breads with toppings.

Pide can be made in various toppings; some favorite toppings are ground meat & onion (here is recipe for the Turkish flat breads with ground meat and onion, Kiymali Pide),Turkish kasar (cheddar) cheese, feta cheese & spinach, cheese and pastrami (Turkish dried beef), cheese and Turkish spicy sauage (sucuk). Sometimes an egg or two can be cracked over pide towards the end of baking too, as in some examples of Karadeniz Pidesi a specialty of a pide prepared in the Black Sea region.

Sade Peynirli pide; pide with mild cheddar cheese - one of the many we enjoyed while in Bodrum

Sade Peynirli pide; pide with mild cheddar cheese – one of the many we enjoyed while in Bodrum

We do enjoy this combination of spinach, feta, onions and pepper; sautéed onions and pepper add a delicious sweetness. There is also a gentle but lovely heat from the Turkish red pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional), for a delicious balance. You can also use grated mozarella or mild cheddar cheese instead of feta cheese. I hope you enjoy this vegetarian Turkish specialty, our version of pizza, packed with flavor and have a chance to recreate at home.

Turkish vegetarian flat breads with feta cheese, peppers, onion and spinach, Peynirli, Sebzeli Pide

Turkish vegetarian flat breads with feta cheese, peppers, onion and spinach, Peynirli, Sebzeli Pide

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Turkish Flat Breads with Spinach, Feta and Peppers; Peynirli Pide
 
I hope you enjoy this delicious, easy to recreate Turkish flat breads with vegetarian toppings; Peynirli ve Sebzeli Pide. They are the ultimate snack and our "to go" food, our version of "Pizza". Spinach, feta cheese, onions, peppers and a hint of red pepper paste make a delicious, healthy vegetarian topping; a real crowd pleaser.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish flat breads with vegetarian toppings
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 8 (makes 2 pides)
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 300 gr/ 15 oz. / 3 cups + 1 tbsp. all-purpose plain flour
  • 14 gr/4 tsp. dried yeast (2 packs of 7gr dried yeast)
  • 8 fl. oz. /1 cup warm water
  • 45ml/3 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the topping:
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 200 gr/7 oz. spinach leaves, washed and pat dried
  • 200gr/ 7 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut in half lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste (optional; you can use ½ tsp. if you prefer less spicy or omit)
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt (optional, as feta cheese maybe quite salty too) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg + 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil to brush the pide
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. Stir in the dried yeast in a small bowl and pour in ½ cup warm water. Dissolve the yeast in water, mixing with your fingers. Set aside for the yeast mixture to get frothy for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in 2 tbsp. olive oil and the yeast mixture. Pour in the remaining ½ warm water to the flour mixture. Using your hands, draw in the flour from the sides and work the mixture into a dough. Knead for 3 -5 minutes, until you reach a soft, smooth dough. The dough gets sticky as you knead, so pour the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir in additional 1 tbsp. flour to help shape into a soft dough.
  4. Place the dough in large bowl and cover with a cling film. Leave it in a warm place for minimum 1 hour; it will be doubled in size.
  5. In the meantime, prepare your filling. Heat 15ml/1tbsp. olive oil in a wide heavy pan and stir in the onions and peppers. Sauté the onions and peppers for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until they start to soften. Turn the heat off and stir in the spinach, red pepper paste (if using) and feta cheese, combine well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper; the topping is ready.
  6. Once the dough is risen, place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for a minute then divide the dough into two pieces and roll into two balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough balls into 2 oval shapes of 20 cm x 40 cm (about 8”x16”), with ½ cm (0.2”) thickness.
  7. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and place the 2 oval flat bread dough on the tray.
  8. Spread the filling evenly over the 2 flat breads, leaving 2 cm at the edges as a border with no filling (I’ve found it’s easier to spread the filling while the oval dough is in the tray). Fold in the sides to act as border to keep the filling intact. Squeeze the oval dough at each end to make it pointy.
  9. Beat an egg in a small bowl and mix it with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Brush the edges of dough with this mixture. Bake for 25 minutes, until the pides golden brown and crispy at the edges.
  10. Once cool, cut into slices and serve.
 

 

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