Turkish Hot Red Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi
Red pepper paste is being used a lot in southern Turkish cooking and with my roots being from there, I do use quite a lot too. It brings a wonderful, rich texture and flavor to salads like spicy bulgur wheat salad – kisir -, stews, meat marinating. At home, the ladies in the villages cook big batches of the spicy red peppers and spread them on the top of their terraces to dry out all the juices so that you get the wonderful, concentrated flavor of the hot red peppers. The dried red peppers, as I put a photo on the headline, are also such a wonderful landmark at home, you see them hanging on spice markets and bazaars all around, a feast to the eye and to your stomach!:)
The red pepper paste is available thru the Middle Eastern markets, and the Turkish website www.tulumba.com carries them too. In London, Tas Organic carries a wonderful red pepper paste in jars, and I have been very lucky to get great batches of them, thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, Judith. In the US, Phonecia Bakery (in Austin and Houston) and Sarah’s Deli in Austin carries them.
In case if you can’t get hot red pepper paste, here is a simple recipe (an adaptation from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s wonderful book, Turquoise) to make at home.
Serves 4 – 6
3 long red peppers
3 long red chiles, seeded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roast the peppers and the seeded chiles for 20 minutes on a tray. Turn them once, until the skins blister and char. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
When cool enough to handle, peel the skins away from the peppers and pull away the seeds and membranes. Roughly chop the peppers and put into a blender. Use a sharp knife to scrape the flesh of the chiles away from the skins – this is easier than trying to peel them – Whiz to a fine puree, then add the salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Cover and keep in the fridge. This should keep the fridge for a week or more.
Thanks for the mention Ozlem! Tas Organic near Waterloo has a fabulous deli full of exciting Turkish ingredients, well worth a visit if you are a Turkish cooking fan. There are several Tas restaurants in London too – not that I need to go there now that our authentic Turkish cook has come back to the UK ;-))
Ozlem, congratulations on your amazing blog! My foodie friends and I are so thrilled bout it. Your recipes are the best. I became a Turkish food lover after I attended your cooking class. I understand you’re very busy, but are there any chances of you writing a cook book soon? What a better way to pass your recipes to present and future generations. Thanks again for all the wealth of information you share with us.
Thank you very much for the wonderful comment, it is great to connect with foodies and hear from you:)! It is my great pleasure to share the recipes from my homeland and it is my dream to get these healthy, delicious Turkish recipes in a cookbook, hope soon. Many thanks for your lovely comments and encouragement, much appreciated! Look forward to sharing more recipes and stories. Happy cooking, Ozlem
I've just found your blog, doing a Google search on something else! 🙂 We're Brits who live in Turkey (and write a blog about our life here) and love cooking Turkish food so I'm going to bookmark your site – every little helps when you're trying to impress Turkish friends!! 🙂
Many thanks for your comment and apologies for the late reply, as I missed earlier. Hope you enjoy the Turkish experience, I lived in Istanbul over 15 years and in Turkey for 30 years, has so much to offer. The red pepper paste is from the Southern Turkey origin though you should now be able to find in every good supermarket at home. It really adds a wonderful flavor to casseroles, meat marination and mezes. Enjoy, afiyet olsun!:)
G’day! I was glad when I came across your wonderful website via Google. I plan to make your Biber Salcasi in a Borek recipe I want to try next week! Look forward to my follow up too!
Thank you for inspiring me to do!
G’day to you too Joanne, many thanks for stopping by! So glad you will have a go at biber salcasi, I use it almost daily, adds so much flavor! look forward to hearing how it came out in your borek, many thanks!
G’day! Thank you for inspiring me to make Borek with meat with your Biber Salcasi for the first time!
Would HIGHLY recommend people make TRUE!
Here’s a photo and what I wrote about this wonderful recipe too!
G’day to you too Joanne! Thank you so much for your kind note; i am over the moon that you tried the recipe and enjoyed it : ) I just visited your website, your borek looks delicious, so glad it inspired – thank you for taking the time to write!
Merhaba, what’s the difference between moroccan harissa paste and biber salcasi?
Harrissa usually has other ingredients like garlic, lemon and spices other than hot chillies in it. Turkish pepper paste, biber salcasi consists of the meaty, spicy red peppers, as well as a little salt to preserve. Hope you enjoy it! Ozlem
Thank you for the recipe. i have a question though. chillies and peppers always confuse me as there are so many kinds. can you please tell me the ones used in this recipie.
i assume you are not talking of red capsicum (or bell pepper).
Also, are you using green chillies here or red chillies.
Sorry if im asking too much 🙂
Hello Nishant, not a problem at all, I am glad you asked – it is the combination of pointy red peppers (which tend to be sweet) and red chili peppers I use here, to get the flavor balance, I hope it helps and you enjoy it : ) If you like it spicier, you may add more red chilies if you like.
Thanks for the quick reply Ozlem. Btw, can you post a recipie for Adana Kebap. Chicken prefrable.
One more question please. Many a times i find my meat dough for kebap’s to be soggy and watery (though i try and drain the water from the ingredients). Whats the best solution to this. I try and add some corn flour or bread crumbs but that changes the taste of the kebap altogether
Thanks a Million again 🙂
Hi Ozlem! I love turkish food and love your blog. I visit Istanbul frequently and in my last trip, I bought Biber Salcasi. And a big tub too! After going home, I realized that this may not be what most dishes use and wha I should have gotten was a sweet red pepper paste and not red chili paste. For example, which paste is used in Kisir? Some blogs use the sweet and some use spicy. Are the two interchangeable in recipes based on personal preference?
Merhaba, many thanks for stopping by and your kind words, so glad you’re enjoying my recipes here. Some folks prefer hot pepper paste some sweet – regular- pepper paste. You can use them both; if you like a spicier taste, you can always add red pepper flakes, they are indeed interchangable, based on your taste. Definitely enjoy that, as the pepper paste is packed with flavor – afiyet olsun!:)
I watch my neighbor in Sarimsakli every summer make this..she sits a tray or two in the sun on the balcony. It takes around two weeks to make.
It is a bit of a labor of love but so worth it, oh I miss home made biber salcasi at home!!:)
Thank you for your red pepper paste recipe. How do I make it with a longer shelf life?
Hi Rosalind, you are welcome. You can drizzle olive oil over the top of the jar to seal, with the salt it helps to keep well. You could also freeze the paste too. Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem
Thanks a million!
thanks for the link!