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Tag Archives | Antakya

Homemade Oruk, version of Kibbeh or Baked Icli Kofte, from Antakya

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; these bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat stuffing are a real treat.

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; these bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat stuffing are a real treat.

Oruk, or (Sam Orugu as they are also referred) the baked oval bulgur balls with delicious ground meat and walnuts filling, is a very popular dish at my hometown, Antakya (Antioch). It is a very special dish that turns up at my mother’s table at every festive event and family gatherings.

Antakya’s Oruk is a version of the delicious Kibbeh, which is considered to be the national dish of Lebanon. A very popular dish, kibbeh has variations in the Middle East, Cyprus (where it is called koupes) and Turkey.  I suppose the difference between them is the spices & some ingredients used (for instance, there is allspice and pine nuts in Kibbeh), as well as the cooking method (Oruk is baked whereas Kibbeh is generally fried). There is also the Turkish Icli Kofte; this one is similar to Oruk, but rather than being baked, icli kofte is first boiled in water then sautéed in oil. If you have made any of these, I would love to hear your experience and perhaps stories behind them.

Whenever we go back to Turkey, oruk welcomes us at the first night of our visit, along with mother’s other specialty dishes like Mevlubi; the layers of rice with eggplants, meat, onion or potatoes, Cevizli Biber; walnut & red pepper paste dip or this delicious yoghurt based soup with bulgur balls in it. Surrounded by this special food and the company, we always know that we are back home.

Oruk or baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh

Antakya’s Oruk or baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh

I have been getting requests from readers on how to make oruk or baked icli kofte. Making oruk is a grand event at home; I grew up watching my grandmother and mother making this special treat with family and friends gathered around a big table in Antakya. Some would make the filling, some to prepare the bulgur dough and some to do the stuffing. Since there were no food processors around in those days, they would ground the meat and bulgur with hand held machines. There were lots of kneading and mixing involved and since they would make vast amounts to share and it would almost take a day for this feast to get ready. A lot of effort, but well worth it.

Taray baked Sini Orugu is easier to make and equally delicious.

Tray baked Sini Orugu is easier to make and equally delicious.

A few tips here to ease the process. I suggest you to prepare the filling a day in advance, if you have a limited time. The filling anyway needs to be cool and this really helps with spreading the work. A few readers emailed to say that their bulgur dough couldn’t stay intact. Semolina is the key here; it works great as the binding agent in the bulgur dough. You also need to have water aside and continuously wet your hands while shaping the dough. Ground meat that goes in the bulgur dough needs to be extra lean and double ground (you may ask your butcher to do this for you or you can pulse the ground meat in your food processor a few times). You may also prepare the easier Sini Oruk; tray baked bulgur spread with ground meat and stuffing in the middle. They are both very special treats at the end, quite a sacred food for me and worth all the effort.

If you are an oruk, icli kofte or kibbeh fan, I hope you would give it a go and make these delicious treats at home. Yes, it does take a bit of a time & effort, but it is totally worth it; a very rewarding, satisfying experience and makes any day special. The leftovers also freeze beautifully.

Serves 12 -14 generously

For the filling:

250gr/9oz ground beef (medium fat)

100gr/4oz shelled walnuts, finely crushed to small pieces (but not ground, needs to have a bite to it)

3 medium onions finely grated

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

30ml/2tbsp. olive oil

10ml/2tsp. ground black pepper

10ml/2tsp. red pepper flakes/ pul biber

Salt to taste (at least 2 tsp. recommended)

For the bulgur dough:

450gr/1lb. fine bulgur, koftelik bulgur (if you can only get coarse bulgur, you can pulse it a few times in food processor)

12fl.oz/ 1 ½ cup warm water to wet the bulgur and another 1 cup warm water to knead bulgur

167gr/ 1 cup semolina

4 fl.oz./½ cup warm water for semolina

250gr/9oz extra lean (double) ground beef

60ml/4 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi

15ml/3tsp. ground cumin

10ml/2tsp. red pepper flakes/ pul biber

Salt to taste (bear in mind that the pepper paste is quite salty too)

Bowl of cold water for shaping the oval balls

Grease a small baking tray for the oval balls and a 32cm/12” round baking dish (or equivalent size) for tray bake oruk

Preheat the oven to 160 C/320F/Gas Mark 3

Oruk, icli kofte filling with ground meat, onions, walnut and spices.

Oruk, icli kofte filling with ground meat, onions, walnut and spices.

First make the filling, as it needs to cool down (to save time & spread the work, you can also prepare the filling a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered). Heat the oil in a heavy pan and stir in the medium fat ground beef. Sauté and stir the meat, breaking the lumps into smaller pieces, over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, until all the juice evaporated. Add the grated onion, salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 5–8 minutes until onions softened and begin to color. Then add the finely crushed walnuts and the chopped parsley, mix well and turn the heat off. Leave aside to cool down (This really is a delicious filling, we couldn’t help having a few tea spoonfuls, it would also make a great pasta sauce).

Now, let’s make the bulgur dough. Place the fine bulgur in a large mixing bowl (big enough for you to be able to knead). Stir in the red pepper paste, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes and using your hands, mix them all well. Then slowly pour the 1 ½ cup warm water all over it.  Again using your hands, give the bulgur mixture a good mix and make sure all bulgur is wet. Let it rest and absorb the water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, place the semolina in a separate bowl and stir in the ½ cup warm water over it. Using your hands, knead and turn the semolina mixture into a soft dough. Semolina is important here as it helps binding the bulgur dough.

Have the ½ cup warm water bowl next to you and start kneading the bulgur mixture for about 5 minutes. Wet your hands continuously while kneading. Stir in the semolina dough into this bulgur mixture and wetting your hands, knead for another 5 minutes, you will see that the dough is getting more elastic and binding together.  Add the double ground extra lean beef to the mixture (you can use your food processor for the meat) and again with wetting your hands, knead for 10 minutes, until you get a smooth, elastic dough.

Spoon the filling into the bulgur shell

Spoon the filling into the bulgur shell

Now, have a bowl of cold water aside to shape the oval bulgur balls; to avoid sticking bulgur dough into your hands and for the balls to stay intact. Wet your hands with the cold water and take a small tangerine size bulgur dough into your palm. Roll it into an oval shape and then using your thumb, hollow out an opening in the middle.  Shape the ball into a thin-walled (about ¼”-thick) oval with an opening at one end by molding ball around finger, gradually tapering closed end. Mend any cracks in the shell with a moistened finger. Fill the bulgur shell with about 1½ tbsp. of the filling.

Pinch the edges of the bulgur ball to seal

Pinch the edges of the bulgur ball to seal and roll into an oval shape.

Moisten edges of opening, then pinch the edges of the ball to seal. Wet your hands and gently form the stuffed bulgur ball into the shape of an oval with slightly pointy edges. Place it on an oiled tray. Repeat the same shaping with remaining filling and bulgur dough. (I made 5 oruk, oval stuffed bulgur balls and a baked sini oruk, in  32cm / about 12” round baking dish. Alternatively,  you can make about 18 oval oruk balls if you like). Place all the finished oval bulgur balls in a well-oiled baking tray and coat them all with olive oil.

Sini Oruk is another type of baked icli kofte and this tray baked version is much easier. To make it, divide the remaining your bulgur dough into two. Grease a (preferably) round baking dish of 32” diameter with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Wetting your hands with cold water, spread a thin layer of half of the bulgur dough onto the oiled baking dish. Make sure the spread stays intact; wet your hands and seal any broken parts. Spread the ground meat and walnut filling evenly over the bulgur dough spread, press gently.

 

Place the stretched bulgur dough onto the filling over the round baking dish and bind all together.

Place the stretched bulgur dough onto the filling over the round baking dish and bind all together.

Grease a chopping board or a work surface with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Take a handful of the remaining bulgur dough and spread with your hands to form a thin layer (about 1/3cm). Place this stretched bulgur dough onto the filling over the round baking dish. Continue until you finish the dough and the top layer is covered, like a patchwork. Wet your hands and bind all the loose ends. (We need to prepare the top layer on another oiled surface so that we won’t press too hard over the filling and break it into parts.). Oil the top layer of the bulgur spread, with about 2 tbsp. olive oil and cut into diamond or triangle shaped slices.

Oruk, baked icli kofte and tray baked sini oruk; both equally delicious

Oruk, baked icli kofte and tray baked sini oruk; both equally delicious

Bake both the oval shaped oruk and the tray bake sini oruk in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, until crispy and golden brown at top. Bulgur absorbs olive oil quickly, so coat both oval bulgur balls and the tray bake with extra olive oil towards the end, so they won’t crack.

You can serve the Sam oruk, oval bulgur balls warm. For the tray bake sini oruk, it is best to wait for about 10-15 minutes to cool down so that they won’t break apart. Cooling and refreshing Cacik dip of yoghurt with cucumber and dried mint complements this delicious treat very well.

Delicious, crispy oruk with ground meat and walnuts filling

Delicious, crispy oruk with ground meat and walnuts filling

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

A visual feast of Antakya (Antioch) 

I wanted to finish this oruk, baked icli kofte post with a visual feast of  Antakya, Ancient Antioch, a cradle of many civilizations; a hope you can make it to my homeland sometime.

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Ezme; Delicious Spread of Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers and Herbs with Red Pepper Paste

Scrumptious spread of Ezme; makes a great appetizer and goes really well with grilled meat and vegetables.

Have you ever tried the delicious Turkish mezze, Ezme? This tomato based delicious appetizer has a wonderful mixture of sweet, spicy and acidic flavors and it is one of my favorite mezzes served in the kebab houses at home, a very memorable gastronomic experience.

Humble and fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, peppers transform to a magical taste with a touch of red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil.

Ezme is a very typical Turkish mezze, served in kebab houses throughout Turkey. With a touch of hot red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil, these simple but fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, herbs and good olive oil produce this surprisingly complex yet refreshing and a very more-ish mezze. You can make Ezme ahead of time, so it is very entertaining friendly too.

Biber Salcasi; Turkish hot red pepper paste add a lot of flavour to dishes; you can also easily make at home too.

There are quite a few variations for Ezme; my favorite is the way it is done in the Southeast Turkey, where my roots are from.  Biber Salcasi,  Turkish red pepper paste is a major staple in the regions of Gaziantep  and Antakya and a little of this wonderful paste adds such a rich, complex flavor to the Ezme. You can find red pepper paste in Middle Eastern stores, online Turkish market Tulumba.com also carry it. You can also make red pepper paste in your home, easy and delicious. An important trick to Ezme is to rub the red pepper paste and tomato paste to the onions with your hands so that the paste infuses; these also soften the onions and make them more palatable.

 

Ayran; Turkish traditional drink of yoghurt, water, salt and ice. A few fresh mint in Ayran gives a great refreshing taste to it.

You can serve Ezme over crackers or pita bread as an appetizer; it can also accompany kebabs, grilled meats and roasted vegetables beautifully too. Why not try Ayran, delicious Turkish traditional yoghurt drink to accompany this wonderful feast?

Serves 4                                   Preparation time: 15 – 20 minutes

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, halved and seeds removed

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2-3 small spicy pointy green peppers –(use less or more depending on how spicy you like)

15ml/1 tbsp red pepper paste (or a little less if you prefer less spicy) – If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

15ml/1 tbsp tomato paste

Juice of half a lemon

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

30ml/ 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rub the tomato and red pepper paste to the onions so that the flavours blend well; this also softens the onions and make them more palatable.

Combine the red pepper paste and tomato paste with the onions in a bowl. Knead and mix them well with your hands so that the paste infuses to the onions; this also softens the onions and make them more palatable.  If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes and infuse them to the  onions with the tomato paste.

Ezme is ready to be enjoyed; though not traditional, I like to add a few walnuts over Ezme when serving, for extra texture and taste.

Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and mint, combine well. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over. Season with salt and ground pepper and give them all a good mix. Cover and keep in the fridge until serving. It would be best if you can let the Ezme sit for an hour or so before serving; this will help the flavors mingle & settle.

You can prepare Ezme ahead of time; it tastes even better the next day!

Ezme is delicious over flat bread, crackers, pitta bread. I like to add a few walnuts over when serving, love the added texture and taste it adds.

Though not traditional, I like to sprinkle a few walnuts around Ezme when serving; I love the added texture and taste walnuts brings to Ezme.

I hope you enjoy making your own Ezme, and that it brings happy memories of your visit to Turkey or inspires for a visit! : )

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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A Very Festive dessert; Syrup Soaked, Cheese Filled Pastry Strands – Kunefe

Glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, a centerpiece for special occasions.

This glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya, and it was one of the highlights at my Turkish cooking class last Saturday, on October 20th.

Proudly showing and sharing the kunefe at my Turkish cooking class on October 20th – many thanks to dear Nadia for the photo!:)

I spent many happy holidays in Antakya in my childhood; I can still remember getting the freshly baked Tel Kadayif (the pastry strands) from the local bakery, watching the delicate strands forming from the huge sieve from Long Market (Uzun Carsi) in Antakya. And the golden memories of my grandmother cooking Kunefe in her stone oven in her garden, and, we, her grandchildren excitedly waiting for any leftovers of the butter soaked pastry strands is still vivid in my memory, glorious days.

The Master at work in Long Market, Antakya. The dough is pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, called Tel Kadayif.

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – fresh mozzarella works well. I also like to add a little clotted cream; my mother would add the wonderfully thick cream we get in Turkey, called Kaymak.  Kunefe can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Kunefe can also be baked in individual portions, like Sultan Sofrasi in Antakya does wonderfully.

You can get Kadayif, packs of pale strands that look like vermicelli- in Middle Eastern stores (like the Turkish Food Market in Cheam, Surrey – England), online Turkish supermarket Tulumba also carries it.

This festive dessert is easy to make, looks impressive and so delicious, great for entertaining and celebrations. This year starting on October 25th, Muslims around the world will be celebrating the Feast of Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha and I am sure Kunefe will be a part of the festivities in many homes.

Baklava is another very festive dessert and easy to make at home.

Here are also other festive dishes like baklava and other festive desserts  if you would like some more inspirations.

Syrup Soaked, Cheese Filled Pastry Strands – Kunefe

Serves 6

Preparation time: 20 minutes             Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

225gr/8oz ready-prepared kadayif pastry, thawed if frozen

115gr/4oz melted butter

350gr/12oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (dil peyniri in Turkey or  the white kunefelik peynir in southern Turkey works great if you can get)

2-3 tbsp kaymak or clotted cream – optional-

For the syrup:

225gr/8oz sugar

120ml/4fl oz water

Juice of 1/2 small lemon – about 2 tbsp (you can use less, if you prefer)

1-2 tbsp crushed pistachios for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C/350 F

First make the syrup. Place the sugar and water in a pan and simmer over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat through and simmer for about 10 minutes, until it coats the back of the spoon. Then remove from the heat and leave the syrup to cool. The syrup needs to be cool when poured over the cheese filled pastry strands.

Using some of the melted butter, grease a large baking tray.

Soak the pastry strands well in the melted butter to prevent it burning during baking.

Soak the pastry strands well in the melted butter. Use more butter if necessary, as it is important that it is well soaked in order to prevent it burning during the baking time. Divide the pastry strands in two. Spread half of the strands in the base of the baking pan, press it down with your fingers.

Spread or crumble the slices of the fresh mozzarella cheese and the clotted cream (if used) over the top of the pastry and cover with the remainder of the pastry, pressing down firmly.

Cover with the remainder of the pastry over the cheese spread, pressing down firmly.

 

Once you spread the remainder of the pastry over the cheese and pressed down firmly, it is ready to be baked.

Bake the pastry in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the strands are a deep golden color.

Cut the hot, baked pastry strands into portions and pour the prepared cool syrup over it. Serve immediately whilst still hot and the cheese is gooey. You can decorate with a sprinkling of ground pistachio nuts over the top if you like.

 

Afiyet Olsun & Mutlu Bayramlar !

Ozlem

Gorgeous autumn colors in Wisley Gardens, England.

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