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Tag Archives | Turkish mezzes

Cerkez Tavugu – Circassian chicken with walnut sauce

Cerkez Tavugu; Circassian chicken with walnut sauce; simply delicious and wholesome

Cerkez Tavugu; Circassian chicken with walnut sauce; simply delicious and wholesome

During the Ottoman reign, the Sultans took a particular liking to women of Circassian origin and many were captured to serve in the harems as concubines and wives. These fair beauties delighted the Sultans and with them came this dish. Originally the dish was made with fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, used liberally in Circassian cuisine and I love it this way. However the palace chefs decided to create their own tamer version. This is a great option for a light lunch, served with a green salad and toasted bread or steamed vegetables. This meze also makes a great sandwich filler!

You can also spice up your left over chicken roast with this walnut sauce. No cream, no mayonnaise, just with such a tasty, healthy dressing, you can create a delicious chicken dish.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Serves 6-8
Preparation time – 30 minutes Cooking time – 1 hour

1 Whole chicken, trimmed of excess fat OR
225 gr / 8 oz chicken breast and 225 gr/8 oz chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
350 gr/12 oz walnuts, crushed
4 slices of stale bread, crusts removed * (you can use gluten-free bread to make this dish gluten-free)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt
10 ml/ 2 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes – if not available, paprika or cayenne pepper
1 small bunch of coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish:
30 ml/ 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 ml/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes/paprika flakes
1 handful shelled walnuts, chopped
Roughly chopped coriander (cilantro)

Combine the chicken leg and breast, the onion and water to almost cover the chicken in a large pan, season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, discard the skin (if whole chicken used), strip the meat from the bones, tear into thin strips and put to one side. Reserve the cooking liquid.

For the walnut dressing, soak the bread in a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Squeeze dry and crumble the bread into a bowl with walnuts, garlic cloves, salt and red pepper flakes. In a food processor blitz these together to form a paste. Add a spoonful at a time of the reserved cooking liquid until a creamy consistency is obtained. Fold in the coriander (cilantro) leaves and season with salt and pepper if needed.

In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with half the walnut dressing. Pour onto a serving plate and cover with the remaining sauce. You can refrigerate at this stage until required.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the Turkish red pepper flakes, cook gently for about a minute. To serve, sprinkle the dressed chicken with chopped walnuts, sprigs of coriander (cilantro) and a drizzle of the red pepper flakes / paprika infused oil over it.

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Smoked Eggplant Salad with Garlic Yoghurt – Patlicanli Yogurtlama

Patlicanli yogurtlama; smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint

Patlicanli yogurtlama; smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint

Another refreshing smoked eggplant salad from southern Turkey, Antakya, this time with garlic yoghurt and mint. It goes very well with grilled meats, or just with some nice crusty bread as an appetizer. If you can cook the eggplants over open fire or on stove top, eggplants get a delicious, smoky flavor.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes

1 medium eggplant (aubergine)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
About 200 ml/ 7 fl oz/1 cup plain yoghurt
5 ml/ 1 teaspoon dried mint
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of a quarter of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 C/ 400 F

Cook the eggplants (aubergines) on a barbecue grill or over and open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. (Alternatively they can be baked in a hot oven for about 45 minutes). Peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices. (You can prepare the eggplants this way a day in advance; squeeze lemon juice over to retain its color and keep in the fridge covered). Finely chop the flesh and set aside.

Combine the yoghurt, flesh of eggplant, garlic, salt, black pepper and the dried mint in a mixing bowl. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish, sprinkle a little more dried mint and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir

 

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Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with tomatoes, onions, olive oil and pomegranate molasses; a delicious bowl of health

My good friend Kate came over and we made Kisir today; it was lovely to cook with a friend and share the food. Kate is such a foodie and it is amazing to see how the food connects people no matter where we come from, a universal language. We talked about how important it is for us to be able to share and have an access to the recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and be able to pass on to friends, family and to the next generation. More than being recipes, they really reflect our heritage, culture, traditions and keep the memories alive.

So here comes kisir. Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate syrup) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce full of antioxidants.

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! I hope you can get to try the recipe. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, a good balsamic vinegar and lemon juice also works well in this bulgur wheat salad. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi is used widely in this salad in Southern Turkish cooking; you can always make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

2 cups coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate sauce
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Handful of finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lettuce leaves to serve

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften-. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.

Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate syrup together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take spoonfuls of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Note: Bulgur wheat unlike cracked wheat, is a grain made from the cooked wheat berries which have the bran removed, and are then dried and pounded. There are two varieties generally available, fine and coarse. If you can get the fine bulgur wheat, use 1/2 cup water for 1 cup fine bulgur wheat.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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