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Roasts and Kebaps

A Special, Flying Visit to Istanbul

 

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

We had a flying visit to Istanbul last weekend; packed with family and friends to see, my niece’s beautiful wedding and delicious Turkish food to savor; every minute of it was special. And what better greeting than of seeing Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings upon arrival, a very warm welcome that I couldn’t resist.

My dear sister Oznur and fellow blogger Senior Dogs Abroad timely informed me that the Yenikapi Metro train line is now connected to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It’s indeed joyful news; we took the metro train line from the airport all the way to 4th Levent – a seamless, smooth journey just over 1 hour and great value. I highly recommend using the Metro train line from Ataturk Airport to all the way to Taksim and beyond.

Kofteci Huseyin – Beyoglu, Istanbul:

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu - Istanbul

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu – Istanbul

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Just before I departed for Istanbul, I got a note from a reader, Chris, asking if I can visit Kofteci Huseyin in BeyogluIstanbul (address: Sehit Muhtar Mah. Kurabiye Sok, Akgun Is Hani, 14/A – Beyoglu – Istanbul). Apparently he had one of the best koftes, Turkish meatballs there and the tomato based sauce served with the meatballs there was just amazing. Well, I had a packed schedule but now was so curious about Kofteci Huseyin that I had to make it and so glad I did. Tucked behind Beyoglu, Kofteci Huseyin is a tiny lokanta, serving the very best Turkish meatballs with fasulye piyazi, Turkish bean salad with onions, since 1958. You are greeted with a warm smile and your koftes are made to order in front of you and served with freshly baked somun ekmek, Turkish bread with piyaz. You can tell they are passionate about their kofte; sourcing out their meat from local butchers, prepared lovingly. Kofteci Huseyin says “They ask me why I don’t serve soup or desserts; making kofte is what I do best and that’s our specialty. Every day we make kofte out of 40 kg of minced (ground beef), onion and bread crumbs and once the meat is finished, our job is finished for the day too, around 4 pm. They ask me why I don’t serve in the evenings; well, there are friends and family to see, time to pause, until the next kofte tomorrow”. I liked his way of thinking.

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Chris especially wanted to know how they make the delicious tomato based sauce served next to the Turkish meatballs, koftes there. It’s a secret recipe apparently, though they revealed there’s crushed tomatoes and Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber in it. I have a feeling there’s also a touch of Biber Salcasi, Turkish hot pepper paste in the sauce, adding a spicy peppery flavor. Kofteci Huseyin is a delightful, small kofteci if you happen to be at Beyoglu area and I am grateful that Chris asked me to investigate. If you’d like to make kofte at home, here is my kofte, Turkish meatballs recipe 101.

Sahi Istanbul:

Meeting up with friends at Sahi Istanbul.

Meeting up with friends, Cicekten and Revan at Sahi Istanbul.

Have you discovered the beautiful Sahi Istanbul in Karakoy?  Founded by ex-colleague and dear friend Cicekten, Sahi Istanbul is home from home for me, offering the best of authentic , genuine Turkish design (as its name refers to), with traditional and contemporary objects, sourced from Turkish artisans all around Turkey. I love the beautiful hand decorated ceramics, locally sourced textiles and the authentic Turkish delights I long to taste there, whenever I am home. It was a delightful to stop by at Sahi Istanbul meeting with friends and Cicekten showered us with the best possible Turkish hospitality.

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep.

 

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Homemade Turkish delights (which you can have a go at making them at Sahi Istanbul – Karakoy); scrumptious boreks, pastries and the original baklava sourced from Gaziantep; we washed them all down with endless glasses of Turkish tea, cay and chats. Please pay a visit to Sahi Istanbul if you can, you won’t be disappointed. Sahi Istanbul’s website in English will also be available shortly.

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics, books and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Sahi Istanbul also very generously gave away their authentic Turkish bracelets and Turkish homemade soaps for my Turkish cookery classes at the Central Market Cooking Schools in the US in February 2014. Special gifts to showcase Turkish crafts and hospitality, I am very grateful to their generosity.

A Delightful Meet up over Turkish Breakfast:

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together with Senior Dogs

No visit to Turkey is complete without a leisurely Turkish breakfast with friends and family, my favorite meal of the day. Just before our departure, we managed to sit at our local café by the Bosphorus with my parents, my sister and family and dear friends and fellow bloggers Senior Dogs Abroad.  Senior Dogs live in Istanbul and blogs about life in Turkey (as well as world affairs) and I have been meaning to introduce them to my parents. My parents were delighted and so impressed with their Turkish and even more that they will be traveling to Eastern Turkey shortly. We lived in Elazig at the southeast of Turkey over 8 years when I was a child and my parents were eager to give as many tips as to where to visit- we all look forward to their adventures up there, not to be missed! As always, it was a delightful few hours spent together with family and friends.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers  is a favorite with us; delicious for a leisurely brunch or a light supper, it is so easy to make it at home too; here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Time to say farewell and hope to see you soon, Istanbul; a special city that calls for us often.

Afiyet Olsun ve Yine Gorusmek Dilegiyle,

Ozlem

Peri’s Spice Ladle’s e-book, Spice Up Your Celebration is out now!!

spiceupyourcelebration3D-680x1079I really am delighted to see that dear friend and fellow blogger Peri’s Spice Ladle’s ebook, Spice Up Your Celebration; Indian Inspired recipes for Occasions, Holidays and Entertaining is out now! We have been enjoying Peri’s delicious and easy to follow Indian recipes for a long time and she really made me appreciate a variety of spices to incorporate our dishes through her wonderful, Indian inspired delicious recipes. This gem of a book is a great source to make and enjoy delicious Indian cuisine in the comfort of your home; it’s a keeper in our home and I hope you enjoy it too. You can view the details of the Spice Up Your Celebration ebook through here. Enjoy!

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Kadinbudu Kofte; Turkish Lady’s Thigh Meatballs

Kadinbudu kofte; Turkish lady's thigh meatballs

Kadinbudu kofte; Turkish lady’s thigh meatballs

Kadinbudu kofte, or as in the literal translation Lady’s thigh meatballs, is one of the favorite forms of kofte with my children and quite a special treat. This tender, juicy kofte has cooked rice in it rather than stale bread and has a delicious coating of beaten eggs and flour. The cooked rice adds a nice texture and a delicious, moist flavor, combined with cumin, red pepper flakes and onions.

There are theories that this saucy name Kadinbudu kofte, Lady’s thigh meatballs, was given by the Sultan’s chefs at the Ottoman Palace kitchens and that kadinbudu kofte being a favorite of the Sultans; one wonders about the inspirations from the Harem.

Drain the cooked kadinbudu koftes on kitchen paper towel.

Drain the cooked kadinbudu koftes on kitchen paper towel.

A few tips on kadinbudu kofte; you can use leftover cooked rice for this juicy kadinbudu kofte. You can use ground (minced) beef, lamb or mixture. I tend to make my kadinbudu koftes quite chunky; smaller ones may also be a wonderful appetizer or mezze. Having a bowl of water aside and wetting your hands does help shape the meatballs. I like to shallow fry them rather than deep fry, they still get a nice coating and lighter. You can cook kadinbudu kofte ahead of time and give a gentle reheat in the oven (at 180 C /350 F for 15 minutes), just before serving.

Kadinbudu kofte is a delicious, comforting meal with mashed potatoes with spring onions by the side. Seasonal vegetables cooked in olive oil, Cacik dip of cucumbers and yoghurt as well as a refreshing Coban Salata, Shepherd’s Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, onions in olive oil and lemon juice complement kadinbudu kofte well. Kadinbudu kofte is also delicious as a cold picnic lunch.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Kadinbudu Kofte; Turkish Lady’s Thigh Meatballs
 
Kadinbudu kofte, or as in the literal translation Lady’s thigh meatballs, is one of the favorite forms of kofte with my children and quite a special treat. This tender, juicy kofte has cooked rice in it rather than stale bread and has a delicious coating of beaten eggs and flour. The cooked rice adds a nice texture and a delicious, moist flavor, combined with cumin, red pepper flakes and onions.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish meatballs with rice, spices and egg coating
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500 gr/ 1 ¼ lb. ground beef, or lamb or mixture
  • 100 gr/about ½ cup long grain rice, cooked
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk (for the kadinbudu kofte mixture)
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg and the remaining egg white, beaten (for dipping)
  • 60ml/ 4 tbsp. plain (all-purpose flour) for dipping
  • Small bowl of cold water aside for shaping the meatballs
  • Light olive oil or canola oil for shallow frying
  • For mash potatoes with spring onions:
  • 4 medium potatoes, deskinned and cooked
  • 2 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
  • 45 ml/ 3 tbsp. whole milk
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. butter
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onions. Saute for 3 minutes over medium heat, they will start to soften.
  2. Stir in the half of the ground (minced) meat and cook on medium to high heat for about 8 minutes, until all the moisture is absorbed, turn the heat off.
  3. Add the cooked rice and the chopped parsley to the pan and mix with the cooked onions and ground meat. Season with salt, cumin, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper (I like to season at this stage before adding the raw meat, as you can check the seasoning). Set aside to cool.
  4. Stir in the remaining raw meat and egg yolk to the mixture. Using your hands, knead well into a paste. Cover and leave the mixture in the fridge for about 15- 20 minutes to settle.
  5. Spread the flour on a flat plate. Have small bowl of cold water aside to help shape the koftes. Beat 1 large egg and the remaining egg white in a small bowl.
  6. Wet your hands and take large egg sized portions of the meat mixture. Shape and flatten them into an oval ball shape. Repeat until all the mixture is finished; you should be able to have 11-12 koftes.
  7. Dip the koftes in the flour to have a light, all round coating.
  8. Heat 4 – 5 tbsp. light olive oil or canola oil in a frying pan.
  9. Then dip the meatballs into the beaten egg and shallow fry in hot oil for about 3 minutes each side. They will be crisp and golden in color.
  10. Drain the cooked kadinbudu koftes on kitchen paper towel. If serving a little later, take out the paper towel and keep the kadinbudu kofte warm on a baking tray in the preheated oven (180 C/350 F) for 5- 10 minutes.
  11. For the mash potatoes with spring onions, mash the cooked potatoes with milk, 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter, over medium heat, until smooth.
  12. Stir in the chopped spring onions and season with salt and ground black pepper. Combine well.
  13. Serve kadinbudu kofte hot with mashed potatoes with spring onions and vegetables aside.
Notes
You can also use leftover cooked rice for this juicy kadinbudu kofte. You can use ground (minced) beef, lamb or mixture. I tend to make my kadinbudu koftes quite chunky; smaller ones may also be a wonderful appetizer or mezze. Having a bowl of water aside and wetting your hands does help shape the meatballs. I like to shallow fry them rather than deep fry, they still get a nice coating and lighter. You can cook kadinbudu kofte ahead of time and give a gentle reheat in the oven (at 180 C /350 F for 15 minutes), just before serving.

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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 4 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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