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Our Turkish Cookery Course in Amman, Jordan; A Very Special Trip

Making Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with participants in Amman, Jordan

Making Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with participants in Amman, Jordan

Merhaba All,

I have just returned from Amman, Jordan, where we had our 3 day Turkish cookery course; it was a very special trip from the start to beginning and I wanted share some highlights here with you.

JA University students helping out at our Turkish cookery course.

JA University students helping out at our Turkish cookery course.

Preparing for our Turkish cookery course in Jordan, love the fresh produce

Preparing for our Turkish cookery course in Jordan, love the fresh produce

My huge thanks first of all to dear Mrs Suhair Kilani and Panthera Jordan for organising our Turkish Cookery Course in Amman; Mrs Kilani has done so much for spreading the word on Turkish cuisine and make our course happen 2nd time in Jordan, my heartfelt thanks to her. It was very special to return to JA University to teach and I love being with the students there. They have been very enthusiastic and hard working; always a very happy feeling being inspired by them and be able to inspire. I was very touched by all the kindness and generous hospitality of our Jordanian friends , it really has been a very special trip.

Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association Opening

Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association Opening

With dear Suhair Kilani and Manar Bilbesi at the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association

With dear Suhair Kilani and Manar Bilbeisi at the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association

I had the honor to be the guest speaker at the opening of the new premises of the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association. It was an honor to be able to meet Turkish food lovers and have a chance to talk about Turkish cuisine. I have been so touched by dear Jordanians’ love and interest for Turkish cuisine and Turkey.

Potato and bulgur patties at our course in Jordan, it was a huge hit!

Potato and bulgur patties at our course in Jordan, it was a huge hit!

Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with spinach and cheese, another very popular dish from our Turkich cookery course

Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with spinach and cheese, another very popular dish from our Turkish cookery course

Zeytinyagli Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice from our class, big hit

Zeytinyagli Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice from our class, big hit

We had over 14 classic Turkish recipes we made during our Turkish cookery course. It was wonderful to see the keen interest from the participants and their enjoyment; some of the highlights have been Potato and bulgur rolls with pomegranate molasses, stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice,  Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with cheese and spinach and many more.

Islim Kebabi, eggplant slices wrapped around marinated chicken

Islim Kebabi, eggplant slices wrapped around marinated chicken

Making Sekerpare with the participants

Making Sekerpare with the participants

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Cezerye, caramalised carrot paste with walnuts from our class, delicious and healthy

We also made other classics such as Iskender Kebab, Stuffed peppers and tomatoes, Dolma, this delightful, gluten-free Islim Kebabi, marinated chicken wrapped around eggplant slices,  Manti, Turkish dumplings and many more. Desserts we made included Sekerpare, Semolina cookies in syrup, Cezerye, caramalised carrot paste with walnuts, Semolina Halva and the very special Tavuk Gogsu; Ottoman milk pudding with finely shredded chicken. I will share the recipe of this unusual but delicious dessert in a separate post.

Our visit to the Turkish Embassy in Amman

Our visit to the Turkish Embassy in Amman

Our Turkish cookery course in Amman has been very generously supported by the Turkish Embassy in Amman; it was a great honor to be able to visit our Turkish Ambassador, Mr Onal, to give our thanks for their support. Also very humbled by his kind words for our contribution to Turkish cuisine, we hope to organise many more of these courses in the near future.

A delightful pomegranate tree at TIKA office in Amman

A delightful pomegranate tree at the TIKA office in Amman

Turkish tea, cay, very kindly offered at the TIKA office

Turkish tea, cay, very kindly offered at the TIKA office

More kindness and hospitality followed, we felt home at the wonderful TIKA office in Amman and seeing their garden, I was transported to my grandmother’s 450 year old stone home in  old Antakya. She used to have pomegranate, fig and walnut trees in her garden and we would wake up with the doves singing, seeing these beautiful trees and hearing the doves were a very magical reminiscence.

TV interview during our Turkish cookery course in Amman.

TV interview during our Turkish cookery course in Amman.

Giving certificates to the participants of our Turkish cookery course

Giving certificates to the participants of our Turkish cookery course

Last day of our Turkish cookery course was filmed and I was interviewed on Turkish cuisine and its perception in Amman, to be aired on national TV. We also made it to Jordanian Times apparently! So good to see all this interest for Turkish cuisine. Another highlight was giving certificates to the participants of our 3 day Turkish cookery course, they have been all so enthusiastic and wonderful.

Turkish coffee, enjoyed by everyone at our Turkish cookery course.

Turkish coffee, enjoyed by everyone at our Turkish cookery course.

We made everyone Turkish coffee at the end; many thanks to Ozerlat Coffee for providing our Turkish coffee, everyone greatly enjoyed the aromatic taste and the traditions, rituals behind this special drink, it really is more than a drink for us.

Our Turkish Cookery Course in Jordan has been a very special trip from start to the end, my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their warm hospitality, can’t wait to come back again!

Brief but very Special Stop in Istanbul

Hello from Istanbul; a very precious stop at the Bosphorus

Hello from Istanbul; a very precious stop at the Bosphorus

Icing on the cake of this trip has been a brief but very special stop in Istanbul afterwards; the city I adore. As soon as I landed, I was by the Bosphorus in Bebek, a very special, memorable moment!

Dear Claudia Turgut's photo exhibition at PositivIST, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

Dear Claudia Turgut’s photo exhibition at PositivIST, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

Mum, my lovely sister Oznur and me together, a very precious moment

Mum, my lovely sister Oznur and me together, a very precious moment

Dear friend and ex-fellow blogger, owner of the wonderful A Seasonal Cook in Turkey blog Claudia Turgut has now a wonderful new passion, photography. She and some other photographers opened this lovely photo exhibition called PositivIST, sharing Istanbul they love through their photographs. Thanks to my lovely sister, we managed to make it to the Exhibition and met lovely Claudia. The exhibition continues until October 13th, located in Arnavutkoy Istanbul and highly recommended; gorgeous photos of Istanbul from these wonderful artists.

Fascinating Bosphorus and Istanbul

Fascinating Bosphorus and Istanbul

Glass of Cay by the Bosphorus, heavenly

Glass of Cay by the Bosphorus, heavenly

 Time to say farewell to this fascinating city, Istanbul, until next time; it was a huge dose of home, seeing loved ones being at home, treasured every minute.

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Swiss chard stuffed with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat, rice and herbs; Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat, rice and herbs; Kis Sarmasi

Any sight of large leaves gets me excited with the prospect of stuffing them. I grew up with my mother’s delicious stuffed vine leaves, yaprak sarma  and stuffed cabbage leaves, lahana sarmasi ,one of our favorite meals.  As a family affair, my father would prepare the leaves and mother and whoever around the table would o the stuffing. And of course, everyone would be very keen to do a “quality check” after cooking, just to make sure they’re cooked 🙂 Happy days.

Turkish people are very fond of stuffed vegetables or dolmas as we call in Turkish. Stuffed tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplants are the year round favorites. Cabbage leaves are stuffed in winter and vine leaves and zucchini flowers herald a fresh option in spring time. The success of any great dolma, which literally means “stuffed”, relies heavily on getting the stuffing right. With a dollop of yoghurt or a slice of lemon aside, they are utterly delicious. For a vegetarian option, try this stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice and herb filling; Zeytinyagli sarma; they are simply irresistible, with a wedge of lemon aside.

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice in hot pepper sauce - delicious

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice in hot pepper sauce

I got some wonderful leafy winter greens, (similar to Swiss chard, though with a slimmer stem) from my local market. Like cabbage leaves, they need to soften up first so that they can be stuffed. With a southern Turkish addition of  Turkish hot pepper paste sauce, biber salcasi (or a tomato based sauce) and garlic yoghurt aside, they were so delicious. You can use cabbage leaves or Swiss card here too. Please don’t worry about  making the perfect roll; as long as they’re not over filled, they stay intact and taste delicious. I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls, or sarmas, as much as we did.

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi
 
Serves: 4 -6
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard
  • For the filling:
  • 225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, grated
  • 110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)
  • 45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking
  • Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 60ml/ 4 tbsp. water
  • Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)
  • Garlic yoghurt sauce:
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped
  • 8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. dried mint (optional)
Instructions
  1. Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.
  2. Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).
  3. Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water
  4. Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.
  5. Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.
  6. Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.
  7. Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.
  8. Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.
  9. Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.
  10. Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).
  11. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. Once it starts to bubble, cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.
  12. While the rolls (sarma,as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.
  13. For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4-5 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.
  14. Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.
Serves 4 -6

Preparation time: 40-45 minutes                    Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard

For the filling:

225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)

2 small or 1 large onion, grated

110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)

45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking

Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:

15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

60ml/ 4 tbsp. water

Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)

Garlic yoghurt sauce:

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped

8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt

Salt to taste

½ tsp. dried mint (optional)

 

Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.

Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.

Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).

Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water

Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water

Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.

Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.

Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.

Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. stuffing.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. stuffing.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.

fold in the sides of the leaf

fold in the sides of the leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.

Then roll into a tight log.

Then roll into a tight log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.

Place the stuffed leaves seam side down in a wide, deep pan.

Place the stuffed leaves seam side down in a wide, deep pan.

Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place the pan over a medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact). Cover and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.

Place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).

Place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).

While the rolls (sarma, as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.

For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.

Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.

Stuffed winter leaves with ground meat and aromatic rice; Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter leaves with ground meat and aromatic rice; Kis Sarmasi

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Note: The stems or any broken leaves and a bit of left over filling can turn into a delicious meal. Simply chop the leaves and stems and sauté with some olive oil and garlic, adding the filling if any left over. You can add a few tomatoes in it or crack an egg; it would make a delicious bite.

 

 

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Traditional Food From Beypazari – Guest Blogpost by Turkish Travel Blog

I am delighted to host a guest blogpost by Natalie, from Turkish Travel Blog; I greatly enjoy reading Natalie’s travels around Turkey, her passion for this country and its people; it always gives me such a great dose of home : ) Please do visit Natalie’s Turkish Travel Blog and enjoy this wonderful blogpost below on Foods from Beypazari. I certainly would love to visit Beypazari after reading Natalie’s post!

The latest destination in my travels was the region of Beypazari, which is located on the outskirts of the capital Ankara. While the region has fantastic landscape views, a variety of bird species specific to the area and majestic Ottoman houses, there was one thing that really stood out for me.

The people of Beypazari love their food and as a result, there are many local dishes worth trying. To tell you about them all, I would need to write a book so instead, here is a quick recap of my experience.

The Local Cuisine of Beypazari

I was amused to find the town sculpture in the city center was a carrot. The town has strong respect for this humble vegetable because annually 70% of Turkey’s carrots are grown in  Beypazari. The respect even extends to holding a festival each year beginning in the first week of June.

The glorious Carrot Statue in Beypazari

If you cannot visit the festival, you will not miss out as various carrot products are sold all year round. Street vendors sell freshly squeezed carrot juice as quick refreshments and you can spread a big dose of carrot jam on your morning toast.

For me, the prize product was carrot lokum, which is not as sweet as its counterpart, the traditional Turkish Delight although it is just as tasty.

Carrot Lokum - Havuc Lokum; a delicacy in Beypazari

One morning, I entered the local bakers shop and my nostrils instantly filled with the exotic smell of cinnamon. This ingredient is one of many in Beypazari’s main local food called Kuru.

The locals eat it at any time and in any place, including breakfast, as a snack or with a cup of tea. I even heard of one couple that took some on holiday because the thought of going without their daily dose of kuru was just too much.

Freshly baked, delicious Kuru; another specialty food in Beypazari.

Kuru is made from basic dough however; the key to its success is baking it twice. This version was too hard and brittle for my liking but the baker happily provided me with some kuru that had only been baked once. It was soft and tasty with just a hint of cinnamon flavor.

Sarma is a dish found all over Turkey but the locals of Beypazari insist their version is the best because it is slimmer than normal. As much as I like sarma, I was more fascinated with the local Baklava.

Beypazari Baklava

To make Beypazari baklava, you must include at least eighty layers of pastry compared with the normal 40.  The portions that I tasted also had a twist because it included walnuts instead of pistachios.

Other Beypazari foods to tempt you include tarhana soup and Beypazari güveç (stew), but if you are in the area, I recommend visiting the local Yasayan Museum (Living Museum). Based in an old Ottoman house, it was reconstructed to show life in the past.

In the old days, all generations of the family used to live together so the kitchen was a hive of activity. The kitchens of the Yasayan Museum are interesting. Can you imagine cooking a pot of food this big?

The Kitchen of Yasayan Museum, Beypazari

 

 

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