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Tag Archives | Aubergine

Bended Eggplant Kebabs with Meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk

Bended eggplant kebab with meatballs; Patlicanli beli bukuk kebap; utterly delicious

Bended eggplant kebab with meatballs; Patlicanli beli bukuk kebap; utterly delicious

Our national favorite Patlican, or aubergine or eggplants are appearing in the markets more now; I love its deliciously sweet, meaty flesh in mezzes, salads, casseroles, even in boreks, savory pastries. This recipe, bended eggplant slices with meatballs or Patlicanli beli bukuk, or Boynu bukuk as we call it, is a childhood favorite. Marriage of the delicate eggplant flesh with meatballs, baked in a delicious tomato sauce with peppers is simply heavenly. All you need is some crusty bread or rice aside and you are all set with a scrumptious, complete meal.

Lightly brown the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes in a heavy pan or bake in the oven.

Lightly brown the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes in a heavy pan or bake in the oven.

You need slim and long purple eggplants for this recipe, as they are first quartered lengthways and then each quarter are cut into deep splits (keeping the skin intact). Once the slices are shallow fried (or baked in the oven, if you prefer), they will soften and bend. If you are in Turkey, you can get those really slim and long eggplants, patlican, which won’t need cutting lengthways; you can just cut deep splits side ways and prepare the recipe.

Gently bend the sautéed eggplant slices and insert the meatballs at the splits, gently push the meatballs in.

Gently bend the sautéed eggplant slices and insert the meatballs at the splits, gently push the meatballs in.

We then insert small meatballs, koftes to these slits, which will naturally bend the eggplants and hence comes the name; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk or Patlicanli Boynu Bukuk Kebab (Bended Eggplant Kebab). It may sound a little tricky to do, but it really is not; you will get the hang of it in a few tries. The meatballs cocooned around the eggplants cook deliciously in the juicy sauce with peppers and tomato sauce.

Baked bended eggplant slices with meatballs - Patlicanli beli bukuk

Baked bended eggplant slices with meatballs – Patlicanli beli bukuk

I hope you enjoy one of our favorite kebabs with patlican, eggplant. Cacik dip with yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint would be delicious aside, so as this wholesome bulgur pilaf with almonds. I use biber salcasi, Turkish red pepper paste  to flavor the sauce and it adds a delicious heat, if you like it too. If not, you can replace it with tomato paste.

Bended eggplant slices with meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk Kebab

Bended eggplant slices with meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk Kebab

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Bended Eggplant Kebabs with Meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk
 
I hope you enjoy this childhood favorite; Bended Eggplant Slices with Meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk. It is a delicious, moist kebab that you can prepare ahead of time. Marriage of the delicate eggplant flesh with meatballs, baked in a delicious tomato sauce with peppers is heavenly; an impressive dish, great for entertaining.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish casseroles with eggplants and meatballs
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 long purple eggplants/aubergines
  • 2 bell or pointy peppers (green, red or yellow), deseeded, quartered and cut in chunky slices
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • Light olive oil or canola oil to shallow fry the eggplants
  • 4 – 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste, Biber salcasi or tomato paste
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp. water to dilute pepper paste or tomato paste
  • 400 gr/14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 16 fl oz. / 2 cups of water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Kofte/Meatball ingredients:
  • 400 gr/14 oz. ground beef, lamb or mixture
  • 1 onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 slice of slate bread (white or brown), soaked in a bowl of water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Cut the stalk of the eggplants and slice in half lengthways. Then cut each slice again in lengthways, you will get 4 long quarters per eggplant.
  3. Then cut each eggplant quarter into 3 -4 deep splits (keeping the skin intact), depending on the length of the eggplant.
  4. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture and the bitter juices come out of the eggplants. Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly afterwards.
  5. To prepare the meatballs, soak the stale bread slice in a small bowl of water then squeeze dry. In a large bowl, combine all the kofte, meatball ingredients except the meat and knead well. That will help soften the onions and blend the ingredients homogenously. Stir in the ground meat, season with salt (about 1 - 2 tsp.) and ground black pepper to your taste. Knead for a good 3-5 minutes with your hands, until the mixture becomes elastic and mixed well. Cover this mixture with a cling film and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes (or a little more, if you can).
  6. While the meatball mixture is resting, prepare the eggplant quarters. Pour in 2 tbsp. light olive oil or canola oil in a heavy pan and lightly brown the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes. You may need to top up with light olive oil if you’re shallow frying (Alternatively, you can bake the eggplant quarters in the preheated oven at 200 C, for 20 – 25 minutes. Make sure the tray and the eggplants are greased with olive oil before baking). Place the sautéed eggplant quarters on a large tray and set aside.
  7. Shape the meatball mixture into walnut sized meatballs. Gently bend the sautéed eggplant slices and insert the meatballs at the splits, gently push the meatballs in. You will insert 3-4 meatballs into each eggplant slice.
  8. Carry on until all the meatballs are inserted into the splits of the eggplants. If you have any meatballs left over, you can place them in the middle of the bended eggplants with meatballs or you can place them around the tray.
  9. Place the eggplants with meatballs in a baking tray.
  10. Spread the chopped onions, garlic and peppers around and stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil over these vegetables and gently mix with your hands.
  11. Pour in the chopped tomatoes around the tray.
  12. Dilute 1 tbsp. pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste, with 4 tbsp. water in a small bowl. Pour in this mixture over the tray too.
  13. Stir in 16 fl oz. / 2 cups of water over the tray and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine well.
  14. Bake, uncovered for 40 – 45 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked and meatballs and vegetables start to brown. About 25 minutes into baking, check if more water needed in the tray. If so add another ½ cup of water, it is delicious to have some juice in this tray bake.
  15. Gently take out the squared eggplant slices with meatballs, using a large spatula. Serve hot with Cacik dip of cucumbers with yoghurt by the side. Plain rice or bulgur pilaf with almonds (recipe available in my blog) also goes well with this eggplant & meatball kebab.
 

 

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Ancient, Wholesome; Bulgur Pilaf with Freekeh, Eggplant and Meat

Firik or Freekeh is a super food and an ancient grain; I absolutely love its delicious, nutty taste, similar to pearl barley. Freekeh used to feature a lot at my grandmother’s table in Antakya, ancient Antioch, when I was a child. Cooked with bulgur and fresh butter, it always tasted so heavenly and the mesmerizing smells always greeted us. Freekeh is a real treat by itself and pairs with bulgur, vegetables, chickpeas and meat beautifully.

Ancient firik or freekeh; a delicious and healthy grain, pairs with bulgur and vegetables so well.

Ancient firik or freekeh; a delicious and healthy grain, pairs with bulgur and vegetables so well.

Firik, (as in Turkish) or Freekeh (sometimes spelled frikeh)  or farik is a cereal  food made from green wheat that goes through a roasting process in its production.  Firik is a popular and ancient grain used Middle Eastern & Southern Turkish cuisine and also popular in Levantine, Egyptian, Arabian Peninsula and North African cuisine. The wheat is harvested while the grains are yellow and the seeds are still soft; it is then piled and sun-dried. The piles are then carefully set on fire so only the straw and chaff burn and not the seeds. It is the high moisture content of the seeds that prevents them from burning. The now roasted wheat undergoes further thrashing and sun-drying to make the flavor, texture, and color uniform. It is this thrashing or rubbing process of the grains that gives this food its name, farīk or “rubbed.” The seeds are now cracked into smaller pieces so they look like a green bulgur.

Antakya - Antioch's ancient Long Market - Uzun Carsi, with abundance of grains, spices and more

Antakya – Antioch’s ancient Long Market – Uzun Carsi, with abundance of grains, spices and more

This delicious, ancient grain freekeh is a similar food made from barley and it is also mentioned in the Bible. Freekeh is also considered as a superfood, as in the category of the healthy grains such as quinoa and farro. Freekeh has at least four times as much fiber  as some other comparable grains, consisting mostly of insoluble fiber. It also has a low glycemic index so is suitable for managing diabetes. You can get freekeh in Middle Eastern or specialty food stores abroad, though it is widely available in Turkey. Bulgur is now widely available in supermarkets, so great to see.

Freekeh with bulgur, eggplants and meat - Firikli Bulgur Pilavi; a delicious & healthy meal.

Freekeh with bulgur, eggplants and meat – Firikli Bulgur Pilavi; a delicious & healthy meal.

I cooked my firik, freekeh here with bulgur, onions, eggplants (aubergine) and chunks of meat. The delicious nutty texture of the grains worked so well with the vegetables. Addition of any meat of your choice is lovely though just with the grains and vegetables itself, this meal would be a delicious vegetarian feast. Chickpeas would go well in this dish too. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi, gives a wonderful, rich flavor to this dish; you can make your own red pepper paste too, here is my recipe  if you like to make your own. You can also add some heat and flavor with the Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber.

Serves 6

Preparation time: 25 minutes                  Cooking time: 30 -35 minutes

350gr/12oz/2 cups coarse bulgur, rinsed and drained

225gr/8oz/ generous 1 cup firik or freekeh, rinsed and drained

1 large eggplant (aubergine), diced

2 medium onions, finely diced

450gr/ 1 lb. small chunks of beef, chicken or lamb (optional)

15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste (biber salcasi)

15 ml/1 tbsp. tomato puree

60ml/2 fl. oz./ ¼ cup olive oil

2 pints/ 5 cups hot water

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

Red pepper flakes, pul biber to serve

Cacik dip of diced cucumbers, plain yoghurt and dried mint  to serve

Layer the eggplant pieces on a tray and sprinkle salt over them, leave them aside for 15 minutes (salt will help the moisture and bitter juices come out of the eggplant).

Layer the eggplant pieces on a tray and sprinkle salt over them (salt will help the moisture and bitter juices come out of the eggplant).

First prepare the eggplants (aubergines). Peel the eggplants lengthways in stripes using a vegetable peeler or a small sharp knife. Cut the eggplant in quarters and then slice into bite size pieces. Layer the eggplant pieces on a tray and sprinkle salt over them, leave them aside for 15 minutes (salt will help the moisture and bitter juices come out of the eggplant). After 15 minutes, dry the eggplants with kitchen or paper towel thoroughly.

Heat the 2 tbsp. olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onions until soft and they begin to color. Add the pieces of meat, stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Toss in the diced eggplants and the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil. Stir and sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until they start to color and soften. Then stir in the red pepper paste and tomato paste and combine well with the vegetables and the meat. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Bulgur pilaf with freekeh, eggplants and meat; firikli bulgur pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with freekeh, eggplants and meat; firikli bulgur pilavi

 Now add the bulgur and freekeh to the pan and mix well. Pour in the hot water, stir and bring it to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and place the lid on firmly. Rest the pilaf for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cacik dip with yoghurt, cucumber and dried mint; delicious and refreshing

Cacik dip with yoghurt, cucumber and dried mint; delicious and refreshing

Serve the bulgur and frekeeh pilaf hot with Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber sprinkled over, if you like. Refreshing Cacik Dip of diced cucumbers and dried mint with yoghurt complements this bulgur & freekeh pilaf very well.

Ancient St Peter's Church, Antakya, Antioch where early Christians congregated.

Ancient St Peter’s Church, Antakya, Antioch where early Christians congregated.

I hope you enjoy this delicious, ancient food, packed with goodness; Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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A Turkish Classic; Eggplants stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil; Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Patlican, eggplants or aubergines are one of the most popular vegetables (actually fruit, as it has seeds in it) in Turkey; we must have over 200 recipes showcasing our beloved patlican, eggplant. I love this classic Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi or “Imam Fainted”, one of the most popular eggplant dishes at home. Legend says  “Imam Fainted” either due to the shock or the pleasure at the quantity of the olive oil used in this dish! No doubt, eggplant loves olive oil and tastes so good in this Imam Bayildi.

Imam Bayildi; this delicious stuffed eggplants in olive oil is lovely vegetarian course, enjoyed at  room temperature or cold

Imam Bayildi; this delicious stuffed eggplants in olive oil is lovely vegetarian course, enjoyed at room temperature or cold

The aubergines are gently poached in this dish with a generous mixture of onions, tomatoes and garlic. This dish is in the category of Vegetables cooked in olive oil, Zeytinyaglis in Turkish cuisine, where the vegetables are poached in olive oil and little water and served either cold or room temperature with a slice of lemon aside. It is delicious and refreshing for hot summer days, just melts in the mouth.

You can prepare Imam Bayildi ahead of time and the left overs can keep in fridge for 2-3 days. I used a little less olive oil here and added dried mint to the filling; the result was a light, utterly delicious and refreshing vegetarian course.

Serves 4

2 large (and slim, if possible) eggplants/aubergines

1 large onion, halved and finely sliced

3 tomatoes, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

60ml/4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

10ml/2 teaspoon sugar

5ml/1 teaspoon dried mint

Salt and black ground pepper to taste

Light olive oil (or canola oil) to shallow fry the eggplants/aubergines

Extra wedges of lemon to serve

 

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines lengthways in zebra stripes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines lengthways in zebra stripes.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the aubergines length ways in zebra stripes, then cut the eggplants / aubergines in half lengthways. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split length ways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt (this will help the moisture come out) over the eggplants and leave for about 10-15 minutes to leach out the moisture and bitter juices of eggplants. After that, thoroughly drain and pat dry the eggplants with paper towel to get rid of this moisture, otherwise they will be soggy.

 Place the sauteed eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Place the sauteed eggplants on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Heat about 1cm/1/2in light olive oil or canola oil in a deep sided pan. Place the eggplants in the oil and shallow fry quickly on both sides until they are softened and have a light brown color, for about 3-5 minutes. Place paper towel on a tray and transfer these eggplants there; the paper towel will absorb the excess olive oil.

Dried mint brings a refreshing flavor to the filling of the eggplants.

Dried mint brings a refreshing flavor to the filling of the eggplants.

Now let’s prepare the filling. Stir in the sliced onions and garlic in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, dried mint, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Knead this mixture with your hands for the dried mint and seasoning to blend well (this will also help the onions to soften). Stir in the tomatoes and parsley to the mixture and combine well.

Lift the eggplants to a chopping board and open up the split in the middle to create pockets. Spoon the mixture into these eggplant pockets, packing it in tightly so that all of the filling is used up (if you have any left over filling, I would simply cook them in the same pan next to these eggplant pockets).

Spoon the filling mixture into the eggplant pockets.

Spoon the filling mixture into the eggplant pockets.

Place the stuffed eggplants side by side in a wide, heavy pan. Mix the remaining olive oil with ½ cup water, lemon juice and sugar and pour it over the eggplants.

Cover the pan with a lid and place over a medium heat to get the oil hot and create some steam. Once the cooking liquid is hot, cook the eggplants for about 45-50 minutes. Once cooked, they should be soft and tender, with a little of cooking liquid left in the bottom of the pan.

Leave Imam Bayildi;  stuffed eggplants in olive oil to cool and rest in the pan after cooking.

Leave Imam Bayildi; stuffed eggplants in olive oil to cool and rest in the pan after cooking.

Leave the eggplants to cool and rest in the pan for the flavors to settle, then carefully transfer them to a serving dish and spoon the oil from the pan over the eggplants. Serve at room temperature or cold, with a wedge of lemon aside and extra garnish of parsley over them.

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; just melt in the mouth

Imam Bayildi; eggplants, aubergines, stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes and poached in olive oil; a delicious vegetarian course, just melts in the mouth

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Tips for buying eggplants: Although these days eggplants are available all year around, July, August and September are their prime time.  When buying, choose eggplants with smooth, shiny skin, heavy for their size, and having no blemishes, tan patches, or bruises. Wrinkled, loose skin is an indication of age, and the fruit will be more bitter. Smaller eggplants have fewer seeds, thinner skin, and tend to be sweeter, tenderer and less bitter.

The US is Calling – time to travel!

Sharing a delicious bite with dear Nancy and Turkish food lovers at my previous Turkish cooking class at Central Market Cooking School, Austin - Texas

Sharing a delicious bite with dear Nancy and Turkish food lovers at my previous Turkish cooking class at Central Market Cooking School, Austin – Texas

I will be departing shortly for the US; we as a family all greatly look forward to visiting dear friends in Texas and in Park City, Utah. I am so very much looking forward returning to Central Market Cooking School in Austin to teach my Turkish Cookery class with them on 2nd August; I know so many of you Turkish food lovers in Austin already booked their spots, my heartfelt thanks to you all. I will be in touch with a post from the US and share our foodie and travel experience 🙂

Best wishes for the summer to you all!

Ozlem

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