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Tag Archives | Antakya Cuisine

Flatbreads with feta, zahtar and red pepper paste; Biberli Ekmek

Turkish flat breads with crumbled feta, hot pepper paste, zahtar and sesame seeds, Biberli Ekmek

Turkish flat breads with crumbled feta, hot pepper paste, zahtar and sesame seeds, Biberli Ekmek

This delicious flat bread with spicy red pepper paste, biber salcasi, feta cheese and za’atar or zahtar spice blend is a specialty from the Antakya cuisine and brings special memories back. I remember my grandmother and mum preparing the delicious topping at home and we children would take it to the local bakery, firin, to be baked over flat breads. They always smelled mesmerizing and we couldn’t wait to have a bite (or two).

Aromatic and pungent zahtar or za'atar blend

Aromatic and pungent zahtar or za’atar blend

Fresh Zahter or Zahtar is a popular herb grown in southern part of Turkey, especially around Kilis and Antakya in spring. Fresh zahter looks more like summer savory, or a crossing of marjoram, oregano and thyme. This herb is wonderful on salads like this Zeytin Ufeleme, Olive salad with pomegranate molasses and zahtar. Za’atar is also the name given to the exotic blend of herbs, spices and nuts, widely used in Southern Turkish as well as Middle Eastern cooking. At my home town, Antakya, zahtar blend is a rich mixture of dried zahter, sesame seeds, crushed cooked chickpeas, cumin, nigella seeds, sea salt, sumac and many more. It has a lovely, pungent, nutty taste and flavors salads, meat, and vegetables beautifully. In Antakya, locals simply dip their bread to a bowl of olive oil than to this zahtar blend for a delicious breakfast. I now see wholesome zahtar available even in supermarkets these days, you can also make your own zahter or za’atar blend, here’s my recipe.

Spread the topping over the flat bread and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

Spread the topping over the flat bread and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

These delicious and healthy flat breads also feature Antakya’s much loved olive oil, Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi and crumbled feta cheese, cokelek. Combined with zahtar, sesame seeds and cumin, it makes a scrumptious, wholesome and fragrant topping for the flat breads. There is a delicious heat from red pepper paste, biber salcasi, a staple in Antakya cuisine and in my kitchen, which add so much flavor. You can make your own red pepper paste, biber salcasi with my recipe; it really is worth the effort. If not, you can add red pepper flakes, mixed with tomato paste instead.

Delicious flat breads with crumbled feta, red pepper paste, sesame seeds and spices; Biberli Ekmek

Delicious flat breads with crumbled feta, red pepper paste, sesame seeds and spices; Biberli Ekmek

I hope you enjoy Biberli Ekmek; it is delicious served as a mezze (try with hummus, muhammara, cevizli biber – red pepper paste and walnut dip or with cacik, yoghurt dip with cucumbers and dried mint), accompanies tea time, soups and main courses so well.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Flatbreads with feta, zahtar and red pepper paste; Biberli Ekmek
 
I hope you enjoy Biberli Ekmek; Turkish flat breads with crumbled feta, red pepper paste, sesame seeds, spices and zahtar blend. This easy recipe from Antakya, southern Turkey also showcases region's wonderful olive oil and crumbled feta, cokelek. Delicious and wholesome; try as a mezze (try with Hummus, Muhammara – red pepper paste and walnut dip or with Cacik, yoghurt dip with cucumbers and dried mint), or at tea time, with soups and main courses.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish flat breads with spicy feta cheese topping
Cuisine: Turkish Regional Cuisine - Antakya Cuisine
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 3 cups/16 oz./ 1 lb. plain flour
  • 1 sachet (7 gr ) dried yeast
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup / 4 fl. oz. luke warm milk
  • ¾ cup/ 5 fl. oz. luke warm water
  • ⅓ cup / 3 fl. oz. olive oil
  • For the topping:
  • 200 gr/ 7 oz. crumbled feta cheese or cokelek
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 45 ml/ 3 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. zahtar or za’atar
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Prepare the topping first. Combine the crumbled feta (or cokelek), red pepper paste, tomato paste all the spices, sesame seeds and olive oil. Knead with your hands to blend them well to form a smooth paste. Set the topping aside.
  3. Now let’s make the dough. Combine the flour, dried yeast and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the warm milk, warm water and olive oil and knead for 3 minutes to form a soft dough. If it gets sticky, drizzle a little extra olive oil in your hand to shape the dough, it really helps.
  5. Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil and spread the dough as a thin flat bread base, reaching all the edges (about ¼ cm, 0.9”).
  6. Spread the topping evenly over the flat bread.
  7. Leave the flat bread with topping on at a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Once the dough's risen, bake in the preheated oven (180 C / 350 F) for 18 – 20 minutes.
  9. Let the baked flat bread with spicy feta cheese topping, Biberli Ekmek to cool down for 15 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve as part of a mezze spread or with tea, Turkish cay.
 

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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 8 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
 

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Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with lemon, olive oil

Baba ghanoush; Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

This delicious salad or dip, Abagannuc or Baba ghanoush, is very popular in Antakya and Southern Turkish cuisine and one of our family favorites. It has many variations throughout the Middle East, where tahini maybe added or plain yoghurt and what to include or not include may invite heated debates! No matter how the finishing touch will be, the essence of this salad remains the same; the aubergines are traditionally cooked over open fire or over the burner to get the smoky flavor. The skin of aubergines and peppers burn and their flesh becomes soft, sweet and tender.

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

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 the vegetables without much of a mess!

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

You can cook the aubergines a day ahead of time; just add ½ juice of lemon after mashing and combine well, that will help to retain its color. Cover and keep in the fridge until you make the salad. I also added a drizzle of pomegranate molasses as a dressing in this version; the smoky flavor of aubergines and peppers worked really well with pomegranate molasses. When in season, pomegranate seeds would also be lovely over this salad.

Abagannuc or baba ghanoush goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

I hope you enjoy our version of Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, packed with flavor.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baba ghanoush-Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with garlic, olive oil
 
Abagannuc or baba ghanoush is a popular mezze or salad in southern Turkish cuisine, where eggplants are char grilled to get a delicious, smoky flavor. It has different versions throughout the Middle East. We'd like to add a little pomegranate molasses in our version for a tangy, sweet flavor. This salad / dip goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Mezzes, Salads
Cuisine: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 medium aubergines / eggplants
  • 1 pointy red pepper or bell pepper
  • 3 small, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with salt and finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • A drizzle (about 10ml/2 tsp) pomegranate molasses to decorate (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to serve
Instructions
  1. Line the base of your burners with a foil to protect, keeping only the burners exposed.
  2. Place the eggplants or aubergines and pepper directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally. (You can roast the tomatoes on a barbeque or on the oven at 200 C for about 20-25 minutes, as it can get quite messy over the burner.)
  3. If you prefer not to have the smoky flavor, you can also score the aubergines with a knife in few places and bake on a baking tray for 50 – 60 minutes. In this case, turn them around every 20 minutes or so that they would cook evenly. Pepper would need about 35-40 minutes to cook in the oven and chargrill.
  4. If you are cooking over the burner, use metal tongs to turn the aubergines and pepper 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.
  5. Remove the cooked aubergines, tomatoes and the pepper to a colander to allow them to cool. Once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain aubergine’s bitter juices. I like to gently squeeze the aubergine flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  6. Chop the flesh of the aubergine, pepper and tomatoes coarsely and mash them with a fork.
  7. Place the flesh in a bowl and stir in the chopped garlic, lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil, combine well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. When serving, drizzle with pomegranate molasses over (if you prefer to) and give a gentle mix; its tangy flavor works really well with the smoked aubergine and peppers.
 

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