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Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice - a favorite street food in Turkey, easy to make at home

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice – a favorite street food in Turkey, quite easy to make at home

Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious treat we love as a nation. A favorite street and beach side food in Turkey, we would get a plateful of stuffed mussels from the local vendor at the beach in Turgut Reis, Bodrum. My son would tuck them in straight and they disappear far too quickly. You would also be welcomed by the street stalls, selling stuffed muscles in Istanbul, especially at Beyoglu district. You gently break off the top shell, give a good squeeze of lemon juice over the mussel with aromatic rice then scoop this delicious mixture with using the loose shell as a spoon, just heavenly.

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Midye dolma - stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

Midye dolma – stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

I was greatly inspired by Somer Sivrioglu’s amazing Turkish cookery book, Anatolia; Adventures in Turkish Cooking and encouraged to have a go at making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home. My recipe here is slightly adapted from Somer’s recipe in Anatolia cookery book. It’s a gem of a Turkish cookery book with clearly written, wonderful Turkish classics and beautiful photos from Turkey; Anatolia is highly recommended.

. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Some important tips on making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home:

1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

I was very glad to have a go at this delicious delicacy, midye dolma. It was well worth the effort and we as a family greatly enjoyed these stuffed mussels. The juicy currants and crunchy pine nuts go so well in the aromatic rice with herbs- they are a marriage made in heaven with mussels.  Midye dolma would make an impressive, delicious starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.8 from 4 reviews
Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma
 
Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious street food we love as a nation in Turkey. They are well worth the effort to make at home; these scrumptious stuffed mussels, midye dolma would make an impressive starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!
Author:
Recipe type: Seafood; mussels with aromatic rice
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 25 - 30 stuffed mussels
Ingredients
  • 25 - 30 large black mussels, cleaned and bearded
  • 2 medium to large onions, finely chopped
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. currants
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. pine nuts
  • 110 gr/ 3 ¾ oz. / ½ cup short grain rice
  • 1 tomato, very finely chopped or grated
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped fresh dill
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 240 ml/ 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the currants in a bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
  2. Place the rice into a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain the rice and set aside.
  3. Make the stuffing first (you can also make the stuffing a day ahead of time). Heat the oil in a medium sized pan and stir in the onions. Sauté over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pine nuts to the onions, sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice, currants, chopped tomato, tomato paste, spices and season with salt to your taste. Pour in the hot water (about 240 ml/ 8 fl oz. / 1 cup) and combine all well. Bring to the boil then cover to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Rice will be “al dente” and still have a bite to it. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  5. Once cool, stir in the chopped dill and parsley to the aromatic rice and combine well. Check the seasoning and add more salt or ground black pepper if you’d like. Set aside to cool. You can cook this delicious aromatic rice a day ahead of time and keep in the fridge, covered. This really helps the flavors to blend in and phase your cooking time wise.
  6. Now, open the mussels. If you’ve bought the mussels in a vacuum bag, open the bag over a bowl to catch any liquid inside. Place the mussels in a large bowl and rinse under cold water. Scrub the shells clean and scrape off any dirt. Using a blunt knife, carefully force the point of the knife into the gap at the pointy end of each mussel (if opening the shells become challenging, soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels). Slice through the meat so the shell opens with half the meat attached to each half shell – once you cut through the thick, round connecting muscle at the bottom of the mussel, it will be easy to open.
  7. Pour the juice from the mussel to a bowl. Snip off the beards and using your finger, remove any grit at the base. Spread the half shells to tear the muscle of the mussel, but leave the two halves connected. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.
  8. Place the mussels on a wide heavy pan, with the tips pointing outwards towards the edge of the pan, with the shells slightly overlapping (to prevent them opening). Build a tight spiral of shells in the center of the pan. There should be one layer of mussels, so if you have mussels left over, use another pan to keep on the layering. Place a wide plate over the mussels to prevent them from opening too wide while they cook.
  9. Strain the mussel juice through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin (cheese cloth) three times to remove any grit. Mix the mussel juice with water, make it up about 250 ml/ 9 oz. / generous 1 cup water (have another 1 cup of water ready if you are using two pans). Pour this mixture to the pan; the water level should only reach to the half of the shell. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to cool at room temperature. Then cover and keep them in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour to cool further and for the flavors to settle. Serve stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, midye dolma on a big platter with lemon wedges by the side. They are best enjoyed eating with your hands, using the top shell to scoop the mixture out of the bottom shell, with a generous squeeze of lemon over the mussel with aromatic rice.
Notes
1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.
 

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Slowing down in Bodrum, chasing the waves and local treats

Greetings from Bodrum – Bodrum’dan merhaba; we have been at Turgutreis in Bodrum for a few days. It feels so good to slow down and chase the waves.. Here are what we’ve been up to and some local treats. Most of them can be easily made at home, hope they inspire or bring a smile.

Beautiful pots and flowers of Turgutreis, Bodrum

Beautiful pots and flowers of Turgutreis, Bodrum

We are staying at my parents’ time share home in Turgutreis; Bodrum in general is a very popular holiday destination, though it is good to see Turgutreis still retains the village feel at places. My dad gets his daily egg and freshly picked tomatoes, peppers and aubergine at the nearby farm, from Fatma Teyze. And what a delightful commute walking at the beach for 15 minutes to get the fresh eggs..

Sevgi Baci's delicious gozlemes, Turgutreis - Bodrum

Sevgi Baci’s delicious gozlemes, Turgutreis – Bodrum

We can’t get enough of Sevgi Baci’s made to order Gozlemes, Anatolian flat breads with fillings; this time it is cheese and potato.

Kabak cicegi dolmasi; stuffed zucchini, courgette flowers with aromatic rice and onion

Kabak cicegi dolmasi; stuffed zucchini, courgette flowers with aromatic rice and onion

Have you ever tried stuffed courgette/zucchini flowers? It is a delicacy especially  in the Aegean region in Turkey; courgette flowers are stuffed with aromatic rice with herbs and onions, cooked and served with a slice of lemon, so fragrant and delicious.

Stuffed grapevine leaves with aromatic rice; Zeytinyagli Sarma

Stuffed grapevine leaves with aromatic rice; Zeytinyagli Sarma

Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice and onions filling, Zeytinyagli Sarma is another delicious mezzes we have been having; served with a slice of lemon, it’s such a delicious, refreshing treat. Here’s my recipe if you’d like to have a go.

Children queuing for stuffed mussels, Midye Dolma in Turgutreis, Bodrum

Children queuing for stuffed mussels, Midye Dolma in Turgutreis, Bodrum

Since the weather is warm, Zeytinyaglis, that is vegetables cooked in olive oil as well as sea food are to go food items. I loved seeing stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, served at the beach in Turgutreis. Also delighted to see the kids (including my children) queuing for them!:) Mussels here are stuffed in their shell with cooked rice & grated onion with spices; red pepper flakes and a hit of cinnamon. All you need is a squeeze of lemon and the whole plateful disappears within minutes.

Midye dolma; Stuffed Mussels

Midye dolma; Stuffed Mussels

Karpuz, peynir, ekmek; coolwatermelon, Turkish white cheese (try Ezine peyniri, if you can) and freshly baked bread.. This is a traditional and a very refreshing lunch or snack at home, especially in hot days and we have been enjoying our fair share. A delicious, refreshing and healthy lunch alternative.

Cool water melon, feta cheese and freshly baked bread - Karpuz, peynir, ekmek make a delicious, refreshing lunch

Cool water melon, feta cheese and freshly baked bread – Karpuz, peynir, ekmek make a delicious, refreshing lunch

How about eggs cooked with ripe tomatoes, green peppers, onions? Scrambled or left as a whole, they make such a delicious start for the day for Turkish breakfast. Here is my recipe for the scrambled egg with vegetables, Menemen.

Eggs with tomatoes, peppers and onion

Eggs with tomatoes, peppers and onion

Our local eatery in Avta – Turgutreis is wonderful. Kevser Teyze and Ismail Usta prepares freshly cooked casseroles, tencere yemekleri daily, using the local produce. We look forward to their food everyday!

Kevser teyze's freshly prepared casseroles

Kevser teyze’s freshly prepared casseroles

Karniyarik, Stuffed eggplants with ground meat and vegetables, dolma, stuffed peppers, kuru fasulye, Turkish bean stew with onions, tomatoes, peppers (also with meat if you like), okra with onions, peppers, tomatoes (also with meat as an option) all freshly made. It is so good to see these local eateries around and well worth hunting for them.

Delicious okra cooked with onions, peppers, tomatoes, with or without meat

Delicious okra cooked with onions, peppers, tomatoes, chickpeas with or without meat

We also made it to the beautiful Gumusluk. There is a wonderful art scene in Gumusluk, loved all the handmade art, crafts, pottery and tiles.

Hand made tiles and crafts in Gumusluk

Hand made tiles and crafts in Gumusluk

Gumusluk Unlu Mamulleri has been an amazing discovery; this wonderful bakery makes delicious boreks, pastries, simit and boreks; we got all these from them and enjoyed with cay by the harbor. Their rolled spinach pie, ispanakli borek was especially delightful.

Ispanakli kol boregi, Gumusluk Unlu Mamulleri

Ispanakli kol boregi, Gumusluk Unlu Mamulleri

Sunset is beautiful at Gumusluk and the walk to the Tavsan Adasi, we will be back.

Sunset at Gumusluk and the walk to the Tavsan Adasi

Sunset at Gumusluk and the walk to the Tavsan Adasi

These delicious lokmas; little dough balls soaked in syrup, are another specialty here; they have a light batter and you feel like you can eat the whole bowl!

Delicious lokma dessert of the Aegean

Delicious lokma dessert of the Aegean

How about the zucchini fritters with feta and dill, mucver? It is in abundance at the moment, and these delicious fritters are a real treat with a dollop of yoghurt aside.

Zucchini fritters with feta, onions and dill; Mucver

Zucchini fritters with feta, onions and dill; Mucver

One of the real treats of our Bodrum stay has been to have a chance to meet up with Alan and J of the wonderful blog Archers of Okcular. A keen nature lover, Alan’s blog inspires me a lot, as well as the wonderful projects they do, such as their Okcular Book Project. The sale of Alan’s brilliant Okcular Guide Book provides funds for the environmental and community projects in their Okcular village near Dalyan, as well as to the Okcular Primary School. It has been so wonderful to meet Alan and J in person; we chatted, ate, drank teas and coffees with my parents, who proved that language is no barrier! Happy days and thanks to them for coming over to see us.

A very memorable meet up with Alan and J of Archers of Okcular

A very memorable meet up with Alan and J of Archers of Okcular

Here is another delicious local treat we enjoyed, Sandal Sefasi, from Bodrum. This reminded me of the stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onions and tomatoes, Karniyarik – with a twist. This time halved eggplants are stuffed with cubed chunks of meat in onion and tomato sauce, topped with cheddar cheese, a slice of tomato and pepper, delicious!

Sansal Sefasi; stuffed eggplants with cubes of meat in tomato and onion sauce, topped with cheddar cheese

Sansal Sefasi; stuffed eggplants with cubes of meat in tomato and onion sauce, topped with cheddar cheese

Time to sign off to tend the children, eager to jump into the sea.

Gumusluk, Bodrum; with beautiful, crystal clear sea

Gumusluk, Bodrum; with beautiful, crystal clear sea

Until next time, Bodrum’dan Selamlar,

Ozlem

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Multicolors of Istanbul; Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, Street Food & Time Out at the Princes' Islands

Overlooking Eminonu. Golden Horn, Spice Market, Istanbul

Overlooking Eminonu. Golden Horn, Spice Market and Yeni Cami, Istanbul

Istanbul’dan Merhabalar – Greetings from Istanbul!– I am embracing the many, vibrant colors of Istanbul; the Golden Horn, Spice Market, Grand Bazaar and the always vibrant Eminonu. This is the hub of life for many locals along with visitors in Istanbul.

The Eminonu district is the heart of Old Istanbul housing the Spice Market, Grand Bazaar, lot of local small businesses. Yeni Cami – New Mosque is at the center of Eminonu, and the place is always vibrant, buzzing with locals as well as tourists doing their shopping, hopping on and off to the ferry, Vapur, to travel to the Asian side of the city, as well as to the Princes’ Islands. I can just sit and watch the world go by here anytime of the day..

Gaziantep's Keme Kebab with Keme truffles and meat

Gaziantep’s Keme Kebab with Keme truffles and meat

Have you ever had Gaziantep’s Keme Kebab? Keme is a type of a special truffle that’s grown in Gaziantep region between March to June; it is meaty and very delicious. Keme kebab features Gaziantep’s famous truffles with chunks of lamb. Look out for Keme if you are visiting at  this period, you can enjoy this delicious kebab in Istanbul too.  Gaziantep Cuisine is a culinary delight; here is some more information on the fabulous Gaziantep Cuisine and history.

Evie perfected the art of holding Turkish tea glass, cay

Evie perfected the art of holding Turkish tea glass, cay

After a good meal – or to be honest, any time! – a glass of cay – Turkish tea, is in order. Dear Evie from our Culinary tour, soon perfected the art of holding the Turkish tea glass : )

Pul biber - red pepper flakes-, cumin, dried mint, sumac and many more - Spice Market is a foodie's heaven

Pul biber – red pepper flakes-, cumin, dried mint, sumac and many more – Spice Market is a foodie’s heaven

 If you like spices, then you are in heaven in the Spice Market, Istanbul. In this ancient food market, you can find a great variety of spices used in Turkish cuisine. Spices feature an important role in Turkish cuisine, as we add  a lot of flavor to our dishes through the artful use of spices. I use the pul biber, the Turkish red pepper flakes with almost every savory dish ( and even sometimes in desserts like this Choc0late cake with a touch of red pepper flakes). Cumin is another commonly used fragrant spice, and it is cumin, what makes hummus, taste like hummus. How about the tangy sumac? This fragrant spice adds a delicious, zesty flavor to salads like to  this piyaz salad with onions, tomatoes and parsley with sumac.

Dried fruit like dried apricots, dried figs, dried peppers and nuts are also great buys at the Spice Market.

Dried fruit like dried apricots, dried figs, dried peppers and nuts are also great buys at the Spice Market.

Spice Market is also the right address to get delicious dried fruit like apricots, figs and many more. Shops even sell dried water melon, lemon and oranges, such wonderful colours and packed with flavor. Turkish dried apricots are one of the world’s best; they are very healthy and makes great snacks. This simple but delicious dessert, baked apricots with walnuts, is very easy to make and tastes wonderful. How about the dried peppers, okra, eggplant and corn? We dry vegetables when they are in season, then use them in stews, as well as stuffing them with aromatic rice in dolmas. They have a rich, delicious taste.

Grand Bazaar - Kapali Carsi, Istanbul
Grand Bazaar – Kapali Carsi, Istanbul
Ancient Grand Bazaar - the building itself and colours are mesmerising

Ancient Grand Bazaar – the building itself and colours are mesmerising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 500 years old Grand Bazaar, Kapali Carsi in Istanbul is most probably the ancient shopping mall in the world. It is a popular place to shop for the locals as well as visitors, though you would expect high prices. I like to go to the Grand Bazaar just to admire this magnificent building, the colors, ornate columns, a living history. It is also a good place to get small souvenirs.

 

Time Out at the Princes’ Islands, Istanbul

On the ferry to the Princes' Islands - over looking the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

On the ferry to the Princes’ Islands – over looking the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

As much as I love the city of Istanbul, it is always refreshing to take a little time off and visit the charming, quiter Princes’ Islands. You can take the ferry from many ports in Istanbul (Kadikoy, Besiktas, Karakoy) and within an hour time, you are in the charming Princes’ Islands.

Locals in the ferry reading their papers

Locals in the ferry reading their papers

Many locals use the tradional ferry to travel between both sides of Istanbul and going to the islands. I love watching the locals doing their rituals; reading the paper, chatting with friends, doing the puzzle.

A glass of cay at the ferry, is a part of the ferry ritual

A glass of cay at the ferry, is a part of the ferry ritual

You can have a glass or cay, Turkish coffee or other drinks and snacks at the ferry. Sipping a glass of cay is a precious memory and a ritual for many, including me.

Anyone for simit? You can have it at the ferry too.

Anyone for simit? You can have it at the ferry too.

Reflections and taking it all in at the ferry

Reflections and taking it all in at the ferry

You can also sit outside, at the terrace or at the side benches at the ferry; the view is amazing and the reflection is inevitable.

Horse Carriages, Fayton, at the Heybeli Island

Horse Carriages, Fayton, at the Heybeli Island

What makes the islands so special is the serenity, relaxation it provides. No cars are allowed at the islands; you can ride on the horse carriages to explore around the islands, you can also rent a bicycle. It is lusciously green, and you appreciate the slower pace of life after the exciting but (can be) tiring Istanbul.

 

The grounds of the Halki Seminary is beautifully kept and offers wonderful views.
The grounds of the Halki Seminary is beautifully kept and offers wonderful views.

Heybeli Island is one my favorite islands and The Halki Seminary is located at top offers magnificent views. You can take the horse carriage to reach here.

Traveling in good company at Heybeli Island

Traveling in good company at the Heybeli Island

It has been a real pleasure to explore the islands during our culinary & cultural tour with our enthusiastic travelers like Evie, Mary and Natalie. Natalie and Mary are over 80 years old; we all admired their enthusiasm, thirst for Istanbul and zest for life.

 

Mussels stuffed with aromatic rice; delicious street food.
Mussels stuffed with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma; delicious street food.

 I like to eat sea food, especially the street food while in the islands. You can enjoy midye dolma – mussels stuffed with aromatic rice, the fried calamari or freshly fried mussles in most of the cafes. They are fresh, delicious and good value.

Mussels fried in a light batter; fresh and delicious

Mussels fried in a light batter; fresh and delicious

 

Fried calamari; crispy and delicious

Fried calamari; crispy and delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A delicacy; kokorec - have you ever tried some?

A delicacy; kokorec – have you ever tried some?

Have you ever tried kokoreç ? It is a dish of the Balkans and Anatolia, consisting mainly of  lamb and goat intestines, as well as including  sweetbread, hearts, lungs or kidneys. Kokorec is usually roasted on a horizontal skewer over a charcoal, gas, or electrical burner and it is seasoned with red pepper flakes, salt and oregano. It is certainly an acquired taste but once done properly, it is delicious.  Kokorec is enjoyed widely in Turkey, you can have kokorec in the Princes’ Islands too.

Kokorec, flavored with oregano and red pepper flakes; delicious when it is properly made

Kokorec, flavored with oregano and red pepper flakes; delicious when it is properly made

On the ferry again; time to go back to Istanbul

On the ferry again; time to go back to Istanbul

After a wonderful relaxing day at the Princes’ Islands, we got on the ferry again and departed for Istanbul. Seagulls racing with the ferry, the wind behind and the afternoon sun on us, we recharged our batteries  for more adventures in Turkey.

The Maiden Tower, Kiz Kulesi by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

The Maiden Tower, Kiz Kulesi by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Our ferry came nearby to the Maiden Tower, Kiz Kulesi, what a sight I thought, what a beautiful country.. One of those moments that you seal in your memory and have felt very grateful to be here, for this very moment.

Now full of new excitement again to hit the road; Ephesus, Didyma, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, all await to be explored, and shared. I hope you enjoyed what you have seen & read, and I hope you can make it to this wonderful land sometime.

Istanbul’dan Selamlar – Greetings from Istanbul,

Ozlem

 

 

 

 

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