Recipes    

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

Cookery Classes

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

Cerkez Tavugu – Circassian chicken with walnut sauce

Cerkez Tavugu; Circassian chicken with walnut sauce; simply delicious and wholesome

Cerkez Tavugu; Circassian chicken with walnut sauce; simply delicious and wholesome

During the Ottoman reign, the Sultans took a particular liking to women of Circassian origin and many were captured to serve in the harems as concubines and wives. These fair beauties delighted the Sultans and with them came this dish. Originally the dish was made with fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, used liberally in Circassian cuisine and I love it this way. However the palace chefs decided to create their own tamer version. This is a great option for a light lunch, served with a green salad and toasted bread or steamed vegetables. This meze also makes a great sandwich filler!

You can also spice up your left over chicken roast with this walnut sauce. No cream, no mayonnaise, just with such a tasty, healthy dressing, you can create a delicious chicken dish.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Serves 6-8
Preparation time – 30 minutes Cooking time – 1 hour

1 Whole chicken, trimmed of excess fat OR
225 gr / 8 oz chicken breast and 225 gr/8 oz chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
350 gr/12 oz walnuts, crushed
4 slices of stale bread, crusts removed * (you can use gluten-free bread to make this dish gluten-free)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt
10 ml/ 2 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes – if not available, paprika or cayenne pepper
1 small bunch of coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish:
30 ml/ 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 ml/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes/paprika flakes
1 handful shelled walnuts, chopped
Roughly chopped coriander (cilantro)

Combine the chicken leg and breast, the onion and water to almost cover the chicken in a large pan, season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, discard the skin (if whole chicken used), strip the meat from the bones, tear into thin strips and put to one side. Reserve the cooking liquid.

For the walnut dressing, soak the bread in a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Squeeze dry and crumble the bread into a bowl with walnuts, garlic cloves, salt and red pepper flakes. In a food processor blitz these together to form a paste. Add a spoonful at a time of the reserved cooking liquid until a creamy consistency is obtained. Fold in the coriander (cilantro) leaves and season with salt and pepper if needed.

In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with half the walnut dressing. Pour onto a serving plate and cover with the remaining sauce. You can refrigerate at this stage until required.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the Turkish red pepper flakes, cook gently for about a minute. To serve, sprinkle the dressed chicken with chopped walnuts, sprigs of coriander (cilantro) and a drizzle of the red pepper flakes / paprika infused oil over it.

, , ,

14 Responses to Cerkez Tavugu – Circassian chicken with walnut sauce

  1. Anonymous December 13, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    This is a simple, but by no means a simplistic dish. It was Ataturk's favorite, and it is mine as well.

  2. Kristin March 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    This is so delicious. I’ve shared it with friends and we all agree that it is the most delicious chicken salad we’ve ever had. The recipe portions are well balanced and the procedure is clearly written. Well done, ma’am.

    • Ozlem Warren March 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Hi Kristin, thank you so much for stopping by, I am so glad you all enjoyed this chicken salad. I love it too, as the creamy sauce of the chicken stock, garlic, bread crumbs and walnuts are so healthy yet so delicious – one of our favorites!

  3. Cali December 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Hi Ozlem how do most people typically eat this? With bread or topped over a pilaf?

    • Ozlem Warren December 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      Hi Cali, this is mostly served as a mezze and enjoyed with slices of pita bread or crackers. Having said that, you can also serve with rice if you like and a green salad aside for a complete meal – we love it, hope you enjoy it too!

    • Ozlem Warren March 25, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      Hi Cali, it is basically a mezze and most folks would eat with flat breads or some with crackers in town. Though I’ve seen some eating with some rice and salad aside too, personal choice!

  4. Cevket March 25, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    If I use peanuts instead of walnut, and add cinnamon and cardamom (Daruchini) to make it more close to North Indian taste, what is your opinion?

    • Ozlem Warren March 25, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Hi, that’s an interesting combination, I am sure the flavors would complement well in a different way, it will be sweeter and more fragrant – quite a different taste than our version, but why not. Glad it inspired and I hope you enjoy it.

  5. Deborah Groom January 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    This could be delicious wrapped in a crepe. If you had a guest who doesn’t like cilantro would the wide leaf parsley be a good substitute or would it alter the taste too much? thanks, Deborah

    • Ozlem Warren January 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

      Merhaba dear Deborah, yes indeed you can use flat leaf parsley, also widely used these at home too. Cerkez Tavugu would be wonderful wrapped in a crepe, delicious idea, also wonderful over toasted bread too – Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Borscht | Loving to Cook for Lovers - December 22, 2014

    […] a Russian author, so we decided on a Russian menu. Our host made Circassian chicken. Something like this, I guess, so it turns out to be more Turkish than Russian, but we all enjoyed it. Another member […]

  2. Turkey – Rio 2016 – Pepper Tree Kitchen - August 18, 2016

    […] Cerkez Tavugu – (Circassian chicken with walnut sauce) by Ozlem Warren.  […]

  3. Meze-makers spill their beans in Turkey’s Mediterranean port | OREKTIKO - November 14, 2017

    […] spices; “topik,” an Armenian dish of vegetable balls now served as a meze; and “cerkez tavugu,” an Ottoman dish known as Circassian chicken, which is shredded chicken served cold in a […]

  4. Meze-makers spill their beans in Turkey’s Mediterranean port | Turkey Agenda - November 14, 2017

    […] spices; “topik,” an Armenian dish of vegetable balls now served as a meze; and “cerkez tavugu,” an Ottoman dish known as Circassian chicken, which is shredded chicken served cold in a […]

Leave a Reply to Ozlem Warren Click here to cancel reply.