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Tag Archives | esnaf lokantasi

Comforting (and gluten-free) Spinach with ground meat, onions & wholegrain basmati rice – Kiymali Ispanak

Comforting & delicious Spinach with ground meat, onions and wholegrain basmati rice - also gluten-free!

Comforting & delicious Spinach with ground meat, onions and wholegrain basmati rice – also gluten-free!

Kiymali Ispanak, Spinach with ground meat, onions and rice is one of my favorite comfort food that I turn to often. Spinach is a much loved vegetable in Turkey and often finds its way in boreks, savory pastries and also enjoyed with eggs. This dish, like other all-in-one pan dishes called “Tencere Yemekleri” in Turkish, is a popular one at home. Spinach, rice and ground meat are cooked together in the pan, with a generous tomato based sauce to dip your bread in. It is very easy to cook, delicious and you have a complete, healthy dish in a short time. This meal is also gluten-free if you use wholegrain basmati rice.

Scrumptious array of home cooked stews, stuffed vegetables, dolmas, koftes and more at traditional lokantas in Turkey

Scrumptious array of home cooked stews, stuffed vegetables, dolmas, koftes and more at traditional lokantas in Turkey

“Tencere Yemekleri” is also popular by the locals, enjoyed at  the traditional, local restaurants called “Esnaf Lokantasi”. Trays of mouthwatering precooked and gently heated bean stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables, spinach with onion and eggs and many more are displayed in a buffet style. This is slowly cooked “fast food”, Turkish style; all you need to do is to pick up your tray and point to the Chef, Asci, which dishes you would like to try. They are ever so inviting, healthy, delicious, great value and a wonderful way to sample some home style Turkish meals. We enjoyed this feast in Asik Restaurant in Didyma during our Culinary & Cultural Turkey tour this year; really a feast to all senses.

Kiymali Ispanak; Spinach with ground meat, onions and rice, a complete, healthy & delicious meal.

Kiymali Ispanak; Spinach with ground meat, onions and rice, a complete, healthy & delicious meal.

I hope you enjoy this favorite comfort food featuring spinach. I like to use all the stems and leaves of the spinach, once washed well. Plain or garlic yoghurt with crusty bread aside go really well with this spinach meal.

Bulgur and potato patties with spring onion; bulgurlu, patatesli kofte

Bulgur and potato patties with spring onion; bulgurlu, patatesli kofte

We also enjoy this potato and bulgur patties, bulgurlu & patatesli kofte, to go with this spinach dish; they are delicious to dip into wonderful sauce of the spinach meal.

Serves  4

750 gr/1lb 10oz fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped

2 medium onions, finely chopped

225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

90gr/3 ½ oz. / ½ cup wholegrain basmati rice, rinsed and drained

30ml/2 tbsp. tomato paste (or 1 tbsp. double concentrated tomato paste)

30ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil

750ml/ 1 ¼ pints/3 cups hot water

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Plain natural yoghurt to serve

Red pepper flakes to serve

Heat the olive oil in a heavy, deep pan. Stir in the onions and cook until golden. Add the ground beef and garlic, stir and cook for a few minutes, until the juice from the meat is evaporated. Add the rinsed rice, tomato paste and the hot water, stir well. Once the mixture starts to bubble, add the chopped spinach and season with salt and ground black pepper. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes.

Comforting & delicious Spinach with ground meat, onions and wholegrain basmati rice - also gluten-free!

Comforting Spinach with ground meat, onions and wholegrain basmati rice

You can serve this delicious spinach meal with a dollop of plain yoghurt over the top, sprinkled with red pepper flakes. Fresh, crusty bread aside is ideal to mop up the delicious juices.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Chocolate & Almond Easter Cake & Fascinating Turkey Trip, Just Around the Corner – Some Useful Tips to Share

Easter is around the corner and although the weather in England at the moment is more of winter-like than spring, the hopes are high and we are busy making an Easter hat for my 6 year old daughter and getting the Easter chocolates ready : )

Almond and chocolate Easter Cake, easy, delicious and so moist

Almond and chocolate Easter Cake, easy, delicious and so moist

I have been making this lovely chocolate & almond Easter cake over and over again; it has never failed to disappoint us and I wanted the share with you all again. The ground almonds make this cake really moist and the cake stays fresh for 4-5 days. It is a rich cake and I like to cut it in small squares to enjoy the it as a “treat”. The children absolutely love decorating with little Easter eggs and licking out the bowl of remaining melted chocolate in the end – so do I : )!

Here is the recipe for the Chocolate & Almond Easter Cake, I hope you enjoy it.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 Fascinating Turkey Trip, Just Around the Corner – Some Useful Tips To Share

The Fountain of Sultanahmet III prior the entrance of the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia at the background

The Fountain of Sultanahmet III prior the entrance of the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia at the background

 I will shortly be packing my bag to depart for home, Turkey for my culinary & cultural tour. I am thrilled to be traveling with a group of enthusiastic travelers and food lovers around Istanbul, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Priene, Miletus, Didyma, ride along the Aegean coast, visiting this fascinating land and enjoying the Turkish Cusine. It will be special to be in Istanbul during the Easter Period, as we plan on visiting the St Antony’s Catholic Church as well as the Greek Patriarchal Seminary in Heybeli Island. I hope you join and enjoy our adventures in Turkey through my blog in the next coming weeks.

Turkey is a very welcoming country, hospitality is always high on the agenda. I count myself very lucky to be a part of this wonderful country with a rich heritage and a generous culture. Here I wanted to share a few tips on visiting Turkey, I hope they help to make your trip more memorable :

Turks are a friendly bunch; a few Turkish words and a smile goes a long way

Turks are a friendly bunch; a few Turkish words and a smile goes a long way

Converse/Interact with the locals:. Learning a couple of frequently used Turkish words will be very helpful to you (like “Tesekkurler” for “Thank You”, Merhaba for “Hello” etc.) and the locals would really appreciate it. Most of them have high tolerance for different cultures and would be very happy to help to you. A little effort and a smile always go a long way.

Borekci with mouthwatering savory and sweet pastries, and 'sinirsiz" - unlimited cay - very welcome!

Borekci with mouthwatering savory and sweet pastries, and ‘sinirsiz” – unlimited cay – very welcome!

Balik&ekmek; the grilled fish sandwich prepared at the boats is a popular Turkish street food

Balik&ekmek; the grilled fish sandwich prepared at the boats is a popular Turkish street food

Make the Most of the Delicious Turkish Street Food: Turkish cuisine is healthy, delicious and the Turkish street food is of great value. Try and enjoy them whenever you can; boreks – the stuffed savory pastry shops , Simit – sesame encrusted bread rings- stalls  pilaf with chickpeas & chicken stalls are around almost every corner. How about Balik & ekmek – the grilled fish sandwich by the Bosphorus or by any harbor? So delicious and a great opportunity to be a part of the local life.

Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings must be the most popular street food in Turkey.

Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings must be the most popular street food in Turkey.

Try local eateries, and Esnaf Lokantasi, for traditional, delicious, affordable home cooked style Turkish meals

Have you ever tried the humble Esnaf lokantasi, traditional style Turkish restaurants, where mouthwatering trays of precooked – and gently heated – stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables and many more – are displayed in a buffet style.

Delicious casseroles, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed peppers and many more await you at the Esnaf Lokantasi, traditional eateries.

Delicious casseroles, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed peppers and many more await you at the Esnaf Lokantasi, traditional eateries.

 This is slowly cooked “fast food”; all you need to do is to pick up your tray and point to the Chef, Asci, which dishes you would like to try – they are ever so inviting, healthy, delicious, great value  and a wonderful way to sample some home style Turkish meals. Check out IstanbulEats  for local eateries in Istanbul.

Trays of delicious, great value feast; all you need is to grab your tray and point out what you'd like.

Trays of delicious, great value feast; all you need is to grab your tray and point out what you’d like.

Use public transport whenever you can :The underground/subway at the European side of Istanbul, as well as the tram is very efficient and beats the traffic big time, use it as much as you can.

Traveling by the ferry in Istanbul is a very relaxing and hassle free experience.

Traveling by the ferry in Istanbul is a very relaxing and hassle free experience.

When traveling between Asian and the European sides of Istanbul, have a go at the traditional ferries, Vapur. They are delightful to travel and you escape the heavy traffic on the road, with a bonus of a glass of cay & simit to enjoy at the ferry!

Learn how to cook Turkish cuisine: Most folks traveling to Turkey have told me they were amazed to see how delicious, healthy Turkish cuisine is – so true! And good news is, you can learn to make these wonderful mezzeskebabs and more while in Turkey. Istanbul Culinary Institute offers wonderful hands-on classes if you would like to have a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Fragrant, flavorful spices; a must buy at the Spice Market

Fragrant, flavorful spices; a must buy at the Spice Market

Stock up on your spices: Spices have an important part in Turkish cuisine; we add flavor to our dishes through the artful use of spices like the fragrant cumin, fiery Aleppo pepper, refreshing dried mint and tangy sumac. Make sure to get your bach of spices when you visit the Spice Market in Istanbul. I also like to stock up on nuts like the Antep Pistachios (probably the most delicious pistachios you’ve ever tasted), almonds, walnuts and dried fruit like  power food dried apricots and dried figs.

If you’re planning a road trip to Turkey, there are some fantastic blogs like Turkish Travel Blog  and Turkey’s For Life offering great tips, routes and insights for traveling in Turkey, so well worth checking out.

The magnificient Bosphorus, istanbul - make sure to have a boat trip along the Bosphorus Strait

The magnificient Bosphorus, istanbul – make sure to have a boat trip along the Bosphorus Strait

Well, I’d better sign off and finish my packing – I greatly look forward to hitting the road towards home and sharing what we will see, taste and learn; I hope you join us at exploring the fascinating land of Turkey!

My best wishes for Happy Travels – Iyi Yolculuklar!

Ozlem

 

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Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken; Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye and more

Dried pulses like chickpeas, beans and lentils are a big part of Turkish cuisine and we eat these staples almost daily; they are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare. Beans, which were established in the early history of Anatolia, are wholesome and nutritious. They are a great source of source of protein, vitamin B1 and dietary fiber. I love beans and included many beans based salads, dips and mains at my Turkish cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, available to order at this link.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book – on its way!

Pulse dishes  are very popular at home as mezzes – such as this  Warm hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive  oil made from chickpeas, tahini, cumin and extra virgin olive oil. Have you ever had hummus served warm? That’s the way we enjoy hummus especially in southern Turkey, warming the hummus brings out the wonderful flavors of tahini, cumin and olive oil, and it is just delicious.

This bean salad with tomatoes, olives, red onion slices and olives is wonderful for lunch or a side dish for grilled meat.

How about this delicious and substantial Turkish bean salad with eggs, olives, onions, and tomatoes; Fasulye Piyazi, for lunch ? We like to serve this salad along with grilled meatballs at home, such a delicious, healthy treat.

Kuru Fasulye; one of the most traditional Turkish dishes, wholesome and so delicious.

This week, I wanted to share our delicious traditional bean stew, Kuru Fasulye.  This bean stew  is very popular at Turkish homes as well as in our traditional restaurants, lokantas. Traditional lokantas in Turkey are also called Esnaf Lokantasi; as the workers used to come to these restaurants for their lunch break- is a wonderful concept.

Fehmi Lokantasi in Kadikoy; delicious, precooked meals all lined up – so many choices!

Have ever been to the vibrant and ever so colorful Kadikoy district in Istanbul? The market is wonderful with the fresh produce and friendly lokantas around.  This is Fehmi Lokantasi in Kadikoy, with mouthwatering displays of ready to eat stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil and many more.

Delicious displays of casseroles, fresh beans cooked in olive oil and many more at Fehmi Lokantasi.

Trays of precooked – and gently heated – stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables and many more – are displayed in a buffet style in traditional lokantas. This is slowly cooked “fast food”; all you need to do is to pick up your tray and point to the Chef, Asci, which dishes you would like to try – they are ever so inviting, I usually end up having small portions of a few to share!-.

Good news is, you can recreate many of these stews and casseroles at home too. I  love this bean stew with chicken and vegetables, as it is so easy, delicious and nutritious. If you are using dried beans, you need to soak them overnight. But if you don’t have time for this, please have a go and use the precooked haricot beans instead. They still work great and you will be preparing a wholesome, delicious meal in no time.

Turkish Bean stew with spicy sausages, sucuklu kuru fasulye

This bean stew is also wonderful when cooked with Turkish spicy sausage, sucuk. You can use any spicy sausage you like or for a vegetarian option, simply omit the meat.

Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken, Onion, Peppers in Tomato Sauce – Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes                           Cooking time: 35 minutes (add 30 minutes cooking time if dried beans are used)

2 cups / 340 gr Cannellini dried white beans or

14oz/1 can of pre-cooked cannellini (or haricot) beans, rinsed

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 green (pointy) or bell pepper, finely chopped

Handful of parsley, coarsely chopped

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil

8oz / 225 gr chicken breast (or your choice of meat), cut in small chunks

14oz/ 400 gr can of chopped tomatoes

300ml/ 1 ¼ cups water

1/2 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Precooked dried beans are perfectly fine to use in the stew; and you will still be making a wholesome meal.

If you are using dried beans, soak them in plenty of water overnight. Next day, drain the water and boil the dried beans in fresh water for about 30 minutes, partially covered, until they are tender but not mushy. Drain the water and set the cooked beans aside.

If you are using precooked white beans, simply drain the juice and rinse the beans under cold water. Set them aside.

In a heavy pan, sauté the onion with the olive oil until soft. Add the meat and sauté for another minute or so. Stir in the green peppers, chopped tomatoes and the red pepper paste (if using) and mix well. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Then stir in the cooked beans and the water, mixing gently so that the beans won’t break. Season with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook in medium heat for. about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and combine well.

Delicious Kuru Fasulye; wonderful with plain rice by the side.

Serve hot with plain rice by the side. You can cook this stew ahead of time, even a day in advance. It freezes very well too. Traditionally; some locals also like to have a quarter of sliced raw onion by the side. A few pickles – tursu, as we say in Turkish- as well as Cacik dip –of yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint– complements this bean stew well.

Cacik dip of plain yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint complements the bean stew well.

Have you ever tried Esnaf Lokantasi – open buffet style traditional Turkish restaurants – in Turkey? What is your favorite slowly cooked “fast food” there? If you haven’t tried this yet, I hope you have a go; healthy, nutritious and so delicious treats will be waiting for you – and please enjoy the sites along the journey 🙂

Kiz Kulesi, Maiden Tower, Istanbul. Try traveling by ferries – vapur – in Istanbul to enjoy wonderful sites like this.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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