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Tag Archives | red pepper flakes

Okra with chicken, vegetables and chickpeas in lemon & mint sauce & Tavuklu, nohutlu bamya

Bountiful Fruit and Vegetable Market in Istanbul

Turkish cuisine is based on using fresh ingredients; fruit and vegetables are bought daily and seasonality is the key. However, especially in Southern Turkey, we also like to dry vegetables like eggplant (aubergine), bell and pointy peppers and okra when they are fresh, to be used when they’re not in season. In villages, these vegetables are simply attached in a piece of string when fresh (we scoop out the middle part/flesh of aubergines and peppers first; they are wonderful when stuffed with aromatic rice and/or ground meat), and hang outside village homes or terraces, to dry at the summer sunshine. With all the moisture gone, the result is intensely flavored dried vegetables ready to use.

Whenever I go to the Spice Market in Istanbul, I always get dried okra, aubergine and peppers. They not only taste great, but they also make wonderful decoration and a great talking point at my cooking classes.

Dried vegetables and spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Recently, my good friend and brilliant blogger Peri posted a wonderful Okra and Potato Stir fry recipe, at her blog Peri’s Spice Ladle, flavoring the okra with fragrant Indian spices, and inspired me to use my dried okra. It is amazing to see the similarities between Turkish and Indian cuisine, especially the love of spices; Peri’s lovely recipes are worth checking out.

Dried eggplants, okra and peppers used a lot in southern Turkish cooking; see how tiny the baby okra is!

Dried eggplants, okra and peppers used a lot in southern Turkish cooking; see how tiny the baby okra is!

So here comes Southern Turkish style okra with chicken. In Southern Turkish cooking, we like to keep the okra as whole, give a little trim to the stalk. We use lemon juice to reduce the sliminess and flavor the okra with dried mint and red pepper flakes; I love the refreshing, tangy taste of the dish and the texture that comes with the chickpeas. For a vegetarian option, you can skip chicken; potatoes would really work well with this dish too.

 Serves 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes               Cooking time: 35 minutes

225gr/ 1/2lb fresh okra or dried okra

250gr/9oz chicken breast, cut in bite size chunks

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes

400gr/14oz can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

8fl oz/1 cup hot water

10ml/2 tsp dried mint

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Plain rice to serve

Wedge of lemon to serve

To prepare the okra:

If you are using dried okra, simmer them in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just soft enough to slip through the string. Drain the water and take out the string, set aside.

Simmer dried okra for a few minutes in boiling water

If you are using fresh okra, trim the stalks, then place the okra in a bowl. You can  treat them with the juice of lemon to retain color and reduce sliminess. As an alternative, you can also or sprinkle with 2-3 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar over okra and leave it to stand for about 1 hr, as  Ghille Basan, the prominent Turkish cookery author recommends.

Saute onion, garlic, chicken, add the chopped tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and chicken pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes to brown them. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and ground black pepper. Mix to combine thoroughly.

Add lemon juice and hot water over the okra

Sprinkle the okra over the chicken and pour the lemon juice and hot water on top. Stir, cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the okra are tender but not soggy. Add the (rinsed) cooked chickpeas, combine well and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the dried mint and red pepper flakes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

 Bamya, etli ve nohutlu 038

Okra with chicken, chickpeas and vegetables; dried mint and red pepper flakes add a wonderful flavor

Serve hot with plain rice and extra wedge of lemon by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

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Leftovers Supper – Eggs with Potatoes, Bell Peppers and Spring Onions – Patatesli, Biberli Sahan Yumurta

Do you do leftovers suppers? We do it quite often and must say I really enjoy it. Not only you finish up all the bits and bobs remaining, but also it is easy to prepare and can turn to delicious suppers. I usually have a few boiled leftover potatoes, the odd bell pepper or courgette (zucchini) waiting for their turn to be finished. And me being an egg lover, vegetables usually end up marrying with eggs.

This supper is super easy to prepare and you can use any vegetable in your fridge that needs finishing; mushroom, onions, peppers, courgettes all work very well. I especially love to add potato and sprinkle some cumin over them; the light smoky flavor of cumin is magical on sautéed potatoes, combined with eggs. Another good example of how you can add wonderful flavors to dishes using spices. With some green salad (or garlicky yoghurt) and crusty bread by the side, this is quite a perfect leftovers dinner for me or a lovely brunch treat.

Patatesli, kirmizi biberli yumurta-OTT

Eggs with potatoes, bell peppers and spring onions; a little cumin and red pepper flakes add a lot of flavor here.

 
Serves 1-2
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 8 minutes

2 free range medium eggs
1/4 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 spring (green) onions, coarsely chopped
1-2 small boiled potatoes, coarsely chopped
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
5ml/1 teaspoon ground cumin
5ml/1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Green Salad (of lettuce, cucumbers, radishes and anything else you fancy) to serve by the side
Fresh crusty bread to serve by the side

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the chopped boiled potatoes and bell peppers. Sprinkle half of the ground cumin and red pepper flakes over them and season with salt and black pepper. Stir and sauté for about 3-4 minutes over medium heat and let the spices infuse on the vegetables. Stir in the spring (green) onions and cook for another minute.


Create two holes in the pan with sautéed vegetables around and crack the eggs there. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until the egg white is set and egg yolk is still runny (you can cook a little more if you like your eggs well done). Sprinkle the left over cumin and red pepper flakes over the eggs, and season with salt and pepper.

How about serving this lovely leftovers supper with some fresh green salad? Just coarsely chop the lettuce, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes (or any salad needs finishing in your fridge!), drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and squeeze of lemon over, season with salt and pepper. You are ready to go!

Serve the eggs hot with green salad and some crusty bread by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Crumbled White Cheese or Feta Salad with Spices; Cokelek Salatasi

Cokelek Salatasi- crumbled feta with spices, tomato, cucumber and onions

Cokelek Salatasi- crumbled white cheese, lor peynir or feta with spices, tomato, cucumber and onions

This is such a satisfying, delicious and healthy salad. The cumin and red pepper flakes amazingly transform the humble Turkish white cheese (or if it’s not available, Greek feta cheese). In my hometown, Antakya (Antioch), this special crumbled white cheese mixed with cumin, red pepper flakes and oregano is called Cokelek and readily available. Well, I can’t get Cokelek at the moment, though pleased to say that the crumbled feta with these spices work just as good, highly recommended. If you are in Turkey, you can also make this salad with the creamy lor peynir; its mild taste goes well with this salad.

This easy salad is a wonderful treat for lunch or weekend brunch with some pita bread. My heartfelt thanks goes to my mother, who made this salad to us almost daily and injected us the love of food.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 10 – 15 minutes

½ small yellow or red onion, finely diced
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
¼ of long cucumber or ½ small cucumber, finely diced
Handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
110gr/40z Cokelek or lor peynir, as available in Turkey (or Greek feta cheese as an alternative),
5 ml/1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 ml/1 teaspoon red pepper (or paprika) flakes
5 ml/1 teaspoon dried oregano
30 ml/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 ml/1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Pita bread wedges to serve

In a bowl, mix the Turkish white cheese, lor peynir (or Greek feta cheese), onion, cumin, oregano and red pepper flakes with your hands. This will soften the onion and infuse the spices to the feta and onion. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, and mix well. Check the seasoning and add salt and black pepper to your taste.

Serve with pita bread wedges.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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