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Tag Archives | Aubergine

My Mother's Arab Kebab; from Historic Antakya (Antioch)

Arab Kebab- or Arap Kebabi, as we say in Turkish – is a juicy, delicious specialty made in the homes in Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. This kebab is also so easy to make; I remember my mother making in almost no time, with delicious aromas coming from the kitchen, and how we used to dip our potato and bulgur patties to its delicious sauce.  Antakya  is a city rich in history and traditions; I greatly admire that folks from different religions and backgrounds live and trade happily there over many centuries. This kebab is a heritage passed from the Arab community living in Antakya region.

Juicy, delicious Arab Kebab; make sure to cook a few potatoes in its delicious sauce and make potato&bulgur patties; they go so well with this kebab.

There is abundance of onion in this kebab, which makes it so delicious (and healthy too). I love the natural sweetness the onions bring out to the dish. There are no eggplants (aubergines) in the traditional Arab Kebab, though I like to add on my version. Again, the sweet, almost meaty texture of the eggplant goes so well in the kebab – you can simply take the eggplant out for the traditional Arab Kebab. We also like to add red pepper paste to this kebab, for a richer, spicier flavor. You can find red pepper paste in the Middle Eastern stores or Tulumba.com or Marketurk online stores. You can also make your own red pepper paste; here is my recipe if you would like to have a go.

Turkish red pepper paste – Biber Salcasi; an essential ingredient especially for the Southern Turkish Cooking.

The potato & bulgur patties with onion and parsley go so well with Arab Kebab. We like to add a few potatoes to the kebab to cook, so that they can soak up this wonderful sauce. We then use these deliciously flavored cooked potatoes in our bulgur & potato patties. Dipping the patties to the sauce of Arab Kebab is just heavenly.

These potato and bulgur patties are also wonderful when dipped into olive oil and pomegranate sauce.

You can make the Arab Kebab ahead of time and give a gentle heat just before serving.  The left overs can also be frozen successfully.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 30 minutes             Cooking time: 35 – 40 minutes

 

500 gr/1 1/4 lb/ 2 cups lean ground beef or lamb

3-4 medium onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 medium size eggplant, finely diced

1 green bell (or pointy) pepper, finely chopped

400gr/14oz can of good quality chopped tomatoes

15ml/1 tbsp red pepper paste – optional-

30ml/ 2 tbsp olive oil

12oz/ 1 1/2 cup hot water

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

5-10ml/1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3-4 medium potatoes skinned and halved (to be used for the potato & bulgur patties)

 

Sprinkle salt over the eggplants; salt will help the moisture to come out of them.

Cut each eggplant length wise and then about 3-4 in cubes, lay them on a wide flat tray and generously season with salt. This will help the moisture to come out of the eggplants. Leave for about 15 minutes. Drain the water that came out of the eggplants and squeeze them with a paper towel to extract the excess water.

Heat the oil in a large wide pan and sauté the onions for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Stir in the ground meat and sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the eggplants, garlic, green pepper and cook for further 4-5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, red pepper paste and the hot water, giving a good stir. Stir in the potatoes to the mixture. Season with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes, combine well.

Arab Kebab has a wonderful sauce to dip the bulgur & potato patties or your bread in.

Cover the pan and gently simmer for about 30 minutes, until all the ingredients cooked and the sauce thickened. Stir in the chopped parsley and combine well, the Arab Kebab is ready. The end result should have a good amount of juice/liquid, as we would like to dip the potato & bulgur patties this sauce. Take the cooked potatoes out to be used in the potato & bulgur patties.

Arab Kebab with onions, garlic, peppers, aubergines in rich tomato sauce; enjoy!

Have you ever tried this kebab or any variation of it? I would love to hear from you 🙂

Afiyet Olsun,
Ozlem

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Let’s have a go at Turkish Cuisine; Sultan’s Delight, Zucchini Fritters, Kunefe (Kadayifi); Easier than You Think!

“Thank you for the wonderful Turkish cooking class; I learned so much about the Turkish cuisine, and couldn’t believe how easy it is to cook delicious, healthy food”; this has been one of the comments at my recent Turkish cooking class. It is always a pleasure to see participants’ enjoying the class and realize how easy to make Turkish dishes, using fresh ingredients.

It is a pleasure and lots of fun sharing Turkish cuisine, recipes, traditions at the cookery classes

Well, I have a new Turkish cookery class coming up on Saturday, 20th October, and I wanted to share what we will be up to.  The classes are friendly, informal with step by step demonstration of the recipes, and packed with useful information on where to source ingredients,  substitution ( when needed) and on Turkish cuisine and culture. If you are in the area and would like to join us, please contact me. If not, I hope the recipes may still inspire you to have a go to treat yourself, family and friends; they are delicious and easier than you think! Here is our menu for the class:

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters flavored with Feta and Dill – Mucver. This appetizer is a wonderful way to flavor the zucchini; dill and feta really goes well with the zucchini. An important tip here is to squeeze out any excess water of the grated zucchini with a paper/tea towel. This will prevent the fritters to get soggy.  You can enjoy mucver  warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. It is truly delicious with garlic infused yoghurt by the side.

Zucchini fritters are utterly delicious; garlicky yoghurt would complement them well.

Sultan’s Delight –  Ragout With Pureed Eggplant And Béchamel Sauce – Hunkar Begendi

Hunkar Begendi; delicious ragout on a bed of smoked eggplant puree; for a vegetarian option, you can serve the puree with grilled vegetables.

This Ottoman classic is served with smoky tasting eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce. When Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat or vegetables.

Smoking the eggplants is an important step to make the Hunkar Begendi, Sultan's Delight.

Important tip; if you cook the eggplants on stove top or burner, you get a wonderful smoky flavor for the eggplants. As an alternative, you can also bake the eggplants in the oven – make sure to prick the eggplants before baking.

Hunkar Begendi is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. It is great for entertaining; looks very inviting and the marriage of the eggplant & béchamel sauce with the ragout is divine. For a vegetarian option, why not serving the puree with Fried Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce; Saksuka ? 

Kunefe – Kadayifi

Syrup soaked delicate pastry strands with cheese; kunefe is an ultimate treat.

This dessert is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya (please click here for more delicious recipes and photos from Antakya). I can still remember getting the freshly baked Tel Kadayif (pastry strands) from the local bakery, watching the delicate strands forming from the huge sieve. And I can still visualize 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….glorious days .

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli. In Antakya, there are specialty shops like this, making the fresh pastry strands for kunefe.

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 – mozzarella works well too. It can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Kunefe recipe will be in the blog shortly.

We will finish the class with the aromatic Turkish coffee, Turkish way. Always a wonderful experience.

Turkish coffee; delicious way to end a Turkish meal.

Have you ever made any of these dishes? Could I tempt you to have a go?:) I would be more than happy to help you along the way and answer your questions, just let me know. I bet yours will be more delicious than mine:)

My late grandmother's 450 year old stone house in Antakya; the house has been a very happy place to cook and enjoy delicious food, and an inspiration for us to keep the recipes, traditions alive.

Happy Cooking, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

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Casserole of Turkish Meatballs with Aubergine, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Peppers – Sebzeli Firin Kofte

There is a concept of “lokanta” restaurants at home, where slowly cooked and ready to eat casseroles of meatballs and vegetables, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables and many more are displayed on serving trays. The idea is you get a chance to eat freshly cooked  “home style” dinners in a restaurant in no time; you simply pick up your tray and fill in your plate with these scrumptious food and they are very good value too. There is no waiting, and you can have a healthy, delicious meal within 30 minutes. Please check out my previous post Slow Cooked Turkish Fast Food for more delicious, affordable and healthy ways of eating out in Turkey.

Pre-cooked delicious casseroles, pilaffs, vegetables cooked in olive oil; all ready to eat

This week’s recipe is an all-in-one pot popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!), one of the many you can experience at lokantas, in Turkey. It is delicious, healthy and you can easily re-create at home. The casserole can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven, and you can bake ahead of time. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain rice or with my recent bulgur pilaf with sautéed almonds. I like to add a variety of seasonal vegetables to my meatballs casserole; zucchini (courgettes) and peas work well here too. You can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

Casserole of Turkish meatballs and vegetables; a favorite for all

We use red pepper paste, biber salcasi, a lot especially at the Southern Turkey; this concentrated paste of spicy red peppers from home gives a wonderfully rich and spicy flavor to the dishes. You can get red pepper paste in most Middle Eastern or specialty stores these days. If you would like to have a go on making your own, here is my red pepper paste recipe.

Turkish red pepper paste, biber salcasi; you can make at home too.

I usually double this casserole recipe and freeze half the portion, as it freezes very well.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time – 30 minutes          Cooking time – 40-45 minutes

For the kofte (meatballs):

450 gr /1 lb ground lamb, beef or mixture

1 medium onion, grated

2 slices of stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry

1 egg, beaten

1 bunch finely chopped Italian parsley

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

A bowl of water for kneading kofte / wetting hands

 And the rest:

450 gr / 1 lb medium potatoes, sliced like thin apple quadrants

1 green, red or yellow bell pepper, deseeded and sliced

1 medium carrot, coarsely sliced

1 aubergine, cut in half lengthways and sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon red pepper paste -optional-

1 tablespoon olive oil

240 ml / 1 cup water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

 

Ingredients for the Turkish meatballs

Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the kofte, meatballs ingredients except the meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles soft dough. With wet hands take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a large finger shape about 1 inch thick. Continue until all the mixture is used. The meatballs can now be covered and stored in the fridge until required.

Salt helps the moisture to come out of the eggplants; make sure you drain these bitter juices

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplant (aubergine) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplant lengthways, about ½ inch thick. Then cut each slice into three parts. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel.

Coat the vegetables with olive oil, red pepper paste or with tomato paste and red pepper flakes

In an oven dish, spread the vegetables. I like to coat the vegetables with the red pepper paste, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the vegetables and make sure they all get this lovely coating (if you like a milder taste, you can replace the red pepper paste with concentrated tomato paste, and add more red pepper flakes for a spicy flavor). Place the meatballs between the vegetables. Add the chopped tomatoes and water, mix well. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Baked Turkish meatballs with eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes; an all in one delicious dish

Baked Turkish meatballs with eggplants, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes; an all in one delicious dish

Serve hot, with plain rice or bulgur pilaf with almonds by the side.

Have you ever tried our traditional drink Ayran? Ayran is a mixture of plain natural yoghurt, water and a pinch of salt blended together. To make ayran, blend 2 cups of plain yoghurt with 3/4 cup water with a pinch of salt, for about 20 seconds. You will see a nice thick foam and bubbles formed at the top. Serve in water glasses with a few ice cubes in them. Ayran is a popular drink at home, especially with kebabs and casseroles, and it would go well with this casserole too.

Wonderfully foamy and bubbly Ayran; our traditional drink with kebabs and casseroles.

Have you ever tried Ayran? Have you had any experience at eating in lokantas in Turkey?  I would love to hear from you, please share with us, thank you.

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

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