recipes

Recipes    

Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
Find out more
class

Cookery Classes

I teach Turkish cooking classes in England,Turkey & USA, hope you can join us!,
Find Out More

How to Make Homemade Pomegranate Molasses – Nar Eksisi

Homemade pomegranate molasses, Nar Eksisi

Homemade pomegranate molasses, Nar Eksisi

I adore the taste of rich, tangy pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi. It is an essential ingredient in Antakya and southern Turkish cuisine and widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. The concentrated flavor of pomegranates molasses adds so much goodness and flavor to salads, casseroles, dips and desserts.

Pomegranates freshly squeezed on a traditional hand held juicer, in Pergamum, Turkey

Pomegranates freshly squeezed on a traditional hand held juicer, in Pergamum, Turkey

In addition of its delicious and natural sweet and tangy taste, pomegranate is also very rich in nutrient, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I have lots of fond memories of drinking freshly squeezed pomegranates, nar suyu, during my travels in Turkey, like this glass we had while visiting Pergamum, during our culinary and cultural tours.

Bountiful, flavorful pomegranates, packed with goodness

Bountiful, flavorful pomegranates, packed with goodness

Pomegranates feature often especially in southern Turkish and Antakya cuisine. We use the thick & fragrant pomegranate molasses sauce, nar eksisi in Spicy Bulgur wheat salad, Kisir, a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, offered as a welcome to guests. This delicious sauce adds so much flavor to Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts. We also like to “bathe” vegetables like peppers and zucchini or courgettes in pomegranate molasses, before stuffing them with aromatic rice and ground meat, as in this Stuffed peppers with bulgur, ground meat and pomegranate molasses. You can also serve pomegranate molasses and olive oil in a small bowl to accompany Potato and bulgur rolls, Patatesli, bulgurlu kofte; their flavor complement one another so beautifully.

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi

I was very excited to get some big, juicy pomegranates at my Turkish food market in North Cheam, England and made my own pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi. It is worth while making your own, as it will be all natural and less sweet than the commercial ones; you will really taste the pomegranates and nothing else.

Squeezing the juice out of pomegranate seeds

Squeezing the juice out of pomegranate seeds

It is easy to make pomegranate molasses at home; the trickiest bit is getting the juice out of the pomegranate seeds. The way I do is to take out all the seeds, place a large bowl under the sink and squeeze the pomegranate seeds with your hands through a sieve over the bowl. Try to extract as much of the juice as you can. Or if you are lucky enough to get freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, you can use that too.

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, ready to use

Homemade pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, ready to use

You can keep your home made pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, covered in the fridge for at least two months. It will thicken more as it cools down and sets in the fridge, so good to bear in mind. Pomegranate molasses is in constant use in our kitchen from a simple salad dressing to adding flavors to the meals and worth the investment.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 3 reviews
How to Make Homemade Pomegranate Molasses - Nar Eksisi
 
I adore the taste of rich, tangy pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi. It is an essential ingredient in Antakya and southern Turkish cuisine and widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. The concentrated flavor of pomegranates molasses adds so much goodness and flavor to salads, casseroles, dips and desserts. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Sauces - Pomegranate Molasses
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Ingredients
  • 1058 ml /4 ½ cups / 2 ¼ lb. freshly squeezed pomegranates juice (out of 8 large pomegranates)
  • 26 gr / 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Take out all the pomegranate seeds and save in a bowl.
  2. Place a large bowl and a sieve under the sink.
  3. Squeeze the pomegranate seeds with your hands through a sieve over the large bowl. Try to extract as much of the juice as you can. Discard the left over seeds.
  4. Pour in the freshly squeezed pomegranate juice in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the sugar.
  5. Bring the pan to a boil over medium to high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Add the lemon juice, mix and reduce the heat to medium to low, just enough for simmering.
  7. Simmer for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes; the juice will get thicken and reduce to ¾ cups.
  8. Turn the heat off and let the pomegranate molasses cool. It will thicken more as it cools down.
  9. Once cool, pour into a glass jar with an airtight lid on.
  10. Store in the fridge up to 2 months.
  11. Makes ¾ cup / 177 ml/ 6 fl oz. pomegranate molasses
 

Continue Reading

Turkish vegetarian rose ravioli with filo pastry; Mantarli Gul Manti

Turkish vegetarian rose ravioli with filo pastry; mushrooms make a delicious filling.

Turkish vegetarian rose ravioli with filo pastry; mushrooms make a delicious filling.

The traditional manti, Turkish dumplings or ravioli, was a central dish in the 15th century Ottoman cuisine. A very popular dish, it was cooked in imperial kitchens and was eaten by Sultan Mehmet II almost daily. This version of manti, traditionally made with “yufka”, the fresh pastry sheets, is a popular one at home and was a big hit at our Turkish cookery class last Saturday. These mantis are also named as “Sosyete Mantisi” or Gul Manti / Gul Boregi, as they look like the shape of rose.

Baked Turkish rose ravioli with filo pastry and mushroom filling; Mantarli Gul Manti or Gul Boregi

Baked Turkish rose ravioli with filo pastry and mushroom filling; Mantarli Gul Manti or Gul Boregi

Gul Manti is traditionally made with ground meat and onion filling. We made a vegetarian version during our class, using chestnut mushrooms, onions, garlic and tomato; it proved to be a delicious vegetarian filling and we all enjoyed it.

Spread 1 ½  tablespoon of the mushroom mixture in a line the middle of the filo pastry.

Spread 1 ½ tablespoon of the mushroom mixture in a line the middle of the filo pastry.

Roll the pastry like a cigar. Seal the ends of the pastry with a little water.

Roll the pastry like a cigar. Seal the ends of the pastry with a little water.

Then, starting from one end, roll the cigar shape into a rose shape.

Then, starting from one end, roll the cigar shape into a rose shape.

Seal the ends of the pastry well with a little water.

Seal the ends of the pastry well with a little water.

Rose ravioli, gul manti, may seem a little awkward to make but they look so attractive that the extra effort is worthwhile. Please bear in mind that filo pastry dries out quickly and may become difficult to work with. To prevent this, keep the pastry sheets under a damp dish towel and only take out one at a time. Above is a step by step photo of how to fold and bend the filo pastry into the rose shape. If the pastry breaks as you fold/bend, please don’t worry. Keep a bowl of water by your side and seal all the broken parts with water and patch with a little pastry. It will all work just fine at the end.

Baked Turkish rose ravioli with mushrooms, gul manti; we served bulgur and potato patties aside at our Turkish cookery class

Baked Turkish rose ravioli with mushrooms, gul manti; we served bulgur and potato patties aside at our Turkish cookery class

With the garlicky yoghurt and red pepper flakes infused olive oil drizzled over, these rose raviolis with mushroom filling make an impressive, delicious course. We served them with bulgur and potato patties, bulgurlu, patatesli kofte with pomegranate molasses aside, they complemented each other well.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Turkish vegetarian rose ravioli with filo pastry; Mantarli Gul Manti
 
With the garlicky yoghurt and red pepper flakes infused olive oil drizzled over, these vegetarian Turkish rose raviolis (or Gul Manti / Gul Boregi) with mushroom filling make an impressive, delicious course. Filo pastry is used here, please follow the instructions so that they won't get dried. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Savory Pastries
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 260 gr / 9 oz. filo pastry sheets, thawed
  • 225 gr / 8 oz. chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and chopped finely
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 small to medium tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 bunch or ½ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly grounded black pepper
  • 4 fl oz. / ½ cup vegetable stock
  • For garlic yoghurt:
  • 260 gr / 9 oz. natural plain yoghurt, brought to room temp.
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
  • For red pepper infused sauce:
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 5-10 ml/ 1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Dried mint to sprinkle over to finish the rose ravioli
  • Small bowl of cold water aside to shape and seal the rose ravioli
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C
  2. For best results, thaw the frozen filo pastry in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature30 minutes before using. That enables the filo thaw completely. If it is fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the filo to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.
  3. Bring the yoghurt to room temperature by taking out the fridge and set aside in a warm spot in the kitchen.
  4. Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and chop finely.
  5. Sauté the chopped onions with some olive oil for a couple of minutes, until soft.
  6. Add the mushrooms and the garlic, cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened and most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes and gently cook for another 3 – 5 minutes, until most of the juice is evaporated.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley and mix well. Set aside to cool.
  8. Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil.
  9. On a dry surface, place the filo pastry sheets on top of one another and cut in half horizontally to form rectangles. Place damp paper towel over them to keep moist. Have a bowl of water near you.
  10. Take out two rectangular filo pastry sheets on a dry surface (cover the rest of the filo pastry with damp towel).
  11. Spread 1 ½ tablespoon of the mushroom mixture in a line the middle and roll like a cigar. Seal the ends of the pastry with a little water.
  12. Then, starting from one end, roll the cigar shape into a rose shape sealing the end again with a little water. Make sure you seal all the openings/cracks with a little water. If any bigger cracks appear, you can patch it with a little pastry, sealing with water again, it works.
  13. Brush the gul manti with a little olive oil and place them on a greased tray. Repeat this with all rectangles.
  14. Bake in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until golden.
  15. Take the gul manti out of the oven once they are golden brown. Then place a dessert spoonful of stock on each hot manti and put in the oven for another 5 minutes to soak up the stock. The finished rose mantis should be nice and crispy outside and moist inside.
  16. For the garlic yoghurt; whisk together the yoghurt and the crushed garlic in a bowl until smooth and creamy.
  17. For the red pepper infused sauce; melt the butter (or gently heat the olive oil) in a small pan. Add the red pepper flakes and mix well.
  18. Place the hot rose ravioli (gul manti) on a serving dish. Pour the garlic yoghurt over it first then dribble the peppery sauce over the garlic yoghurt.
  19. Finish the dish by sprinkling dried mint over it and serve immediately.
Notes
1) Filo pastry dries out very quickly and becomes unworkable. To prevent this, keep the pastry sheets under a damp dish towel or paper tpwel and only take out one at a time. Any leftover pastry can be rolled up, sealed in a freezer bag and kept in the freezer.
2) You can freeze the baked gul mantis, rose ravioli. They can be successfully reheated on a greased tray (at 350 F /180C for about 15 minutes)

Continue Reading

Wholesome Turkish Cuisine, use of spices and Hospitality above all

Elmbridge Food Festival at Painshill Park, Surrey - England

Elmbridge Food Festival at Painshill Park, Surrey – England

Talking about Turkish cuisine and culinary heritage at the demo theatre, Elmbridge Food Festival

Talking about Turkish cuisine and culinary heritage at the demo theatre, Elmbridge Food Festival

I was delighted to be one of the guest speakers at the Elmbridge Food Festival at the Painshill Park’s, the beautiful 18th century landscape garden, Surrey – England last weekend. The festival showcased the local produce, artisanal bakery as well as ethnic cuisines in Surrey. It was a gorgeous weekend with sun upon us and a well-attended enthusiastic crowd at the demo theatre.

So much to talk about (now that I was given a mic and a crowd!); Turkish hospitality, importance of seasonality, use of spices and more

So much to talk about (now that I was given a mic and a crowd!); Turkish hospitality, importance of seasonality, use of spices and more

 

Fresh fruit and vegetables galore at the markets, pazar, in Turkey,

Fresh fruit and vegetables galore at the markets, pazar, in Turkey

It was a great opportunity to talk about delicious, wholesome Turkish cuisine and that it is beyond kebabs (as much as we love them). Turkish cuisine is based on fresh, seasonal produce. We are a lucky nation blessed with four seasons and abundance of seasonal fruit and vegetables regularly on display at farmer’s markets, pazar. In addition to fresh produce, wholesome grains like bulgur, legumes, dried fruits and nuts also feature frequently in Turkish cuisine. Here is some more information on Turkish cuisine and culinary traditions, if you like.

My sweet models displaying dried bell peppers and eggplants!

My sweet models displaying dried bell peppers and eggplants!

The dried bell peppers, eggplants (aubergines) and baby okra attracted a lot of attention (thanks to my sweet helpers!) during the food festival. This is a mainly southern Turkish tradition; the excess produce of meaty peppers, aubergines (eggplants) and baby okra are dried under the hot sun in the summer at the southern part of Turkey. The flesh and seeds of the eggplants and pepper are taken out and left for drying at the regions of Antakya and Gaziantep. They will end up having a rich, concentrated flavor and delicious when stuffed with ground meat and aromatic rice, as in these stuffed dried eggplants and peppers, kuru patlican ve biber dolmasi.

Hummus, flavored with red pepper flakes infused olive oil

Hummus, flavored with red pepper flakes infused olive oil

The fresh produce, grains and legumes are also flavored with artful use of spices in Turkish cuisine. For instance, we use pungent, warm cumin often. Combined with chickpeas and tahini, cumin is the spice that makes hummus taste like hummus. Cumin is wonderful on lamb and beef; with chickpeas, lentils, cabbage, eggplant and cooked tomato; or combined with spices like dried mint, paprika, cilantro (coriander) and saffron. It’s also perfect with garlic or fennel.

Ezo Gelin Corba, Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup, flavored with dried mint and red pepper flakes.

Ezo Gelin Corba, Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup, flavored with dried mint and red pepper flakes.

How about the hearty Red lentils and bulgur soup, Ezo Gelin Corba? This spicy red lentil soup is one of my favorites; rich in fiber and protein and flavored with the refreshing dried mint and smoky, spicy Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes. It is a very satisfying, heartwarming meal itself with some crusty bread aside. You can read more about spices used in Turkish cuisine here; they are a wholesome way of adding flavors naturally.

Turkish Delights, Lokum

Turkish Delights, Lokum

We finished our talk with the Turkish Delights, Lokum, one of Turkey’s hallmarks. The real thing is much more fragrant, less sweet and packed with flavor, compared to the ones I came across abroad. Therefore I decided to make my own Turkish delight and demonstrated in one of of Turkish cookery classes. You’d be pleasantly surprised to see it is easier than you think, though bear in mind that home made lokum will be softer than the commercial ones but packed with flavor. Here’s my home made Turkish delight recipe, if you’d like to try out.

Serving Turkish Delights at the Elmbridge Food Festival

Serving Turkish Delights at the Elmbridge Food Festival

One of the highlights of my talk at the food festival was the hospitality, generosity of Turkish cuisine and culture. Hospitality is a big part of Turkish culture and you can feel it everyday life all around. I vividly remember friends and extended family members knocking the door of my Grandmother’s 400 year old house in Antakya spontaneously and happily welcomed to the dinner table. We would all sit around her courtyard dinner table under the fig tree and have a feast of senses with arrays of wonderful mezzes, abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables cooked in olive oil (Zeytinyaglilar), succulent kebabs and many more. You will be offered tea or Turkish coffee in the banks, shops, wherever you go with a smile. Turkish saying “Basimin ustunde yerin var” (“I would place you above my head”) I think sums the Turkish hospitality very well. We Turks place our guests at the top of our heads and would be delighted to share our food with them, even it is some fresh bread and cheese.

Children helping me out for serving Turkish Delights.

Children helping me out for serving Turkish Delights.

I hope this inspires and you keep on enjoying delicious, wholesome Turkish cuisine.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

Continue Reading