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Author Archive | Ozlem Warren

Eggplants with Lentils, cooked in Olive Oil; Mercimekli Mualla

 

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

It is high time for an eggplant (aubergine) recipe, the king of vegetables at home. Eggplant lovers at home claim we have over 200 eggplant, patlican recipes, as we love this special vegetable so much. My name in our home is actually “Patlican” too – or Patli as short-. When my husband heard the name for the first time, he liked the sound of it so much that he decided to call me Patlican! No complaints.

We have a whole section in Turkish cuisine called “Vegetables cooked in Olive Oil”, Zeytinyaglilar, where we cook vegetables in olive oil and serve them either cold or at room temperature. Once cooked, it is important for the dish to cool down in its pan and rest, allowing all the flavors to blend. Usually served with a wedge of lemon, this style of cooking is very healthy, tasty and refreshing.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book – available to order now

This traditional recipe, Patlicanli Mercimekli Mualla, is from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. The amazing flavors of green lentils, olive oil, eggplant and dried mint blend so well and take me back to Antakya immediately. This is a traditional recipe and I am especially happy to be able to pass it on to food lovers and the next generation, and delighted to include at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes From My Homeland, available to order at this link.  It is a joy to trace these recipes over many phone calls to my mother, passionately exchange opinions on it and finally have a chance to share with you. I hope you enjoy this wonderful dish and pass it on.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes

180 gr / 1 cup green lentils
2 medium eggplants (aubergine)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and thinly sliced
400 gr / 14 oz (a can of) chopped tomatoes in juice
50 ml/ about 2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup olive oil and
45 ml / 3 tablespoons of olive oil to saute eggplants
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried mint (spearmint)
240 ml/ 8 lf oz / 1 cup water

Crusty bread to serve

Put lentils in a pan of boiling water, stir and cover. Simmer in low heat for 15 minutes. Drain its water and set aside.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants in zebra stripes. Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and then cut each half into medium thick slices. Spread them on a wide tray, sprinkle salt over and leave aside for 15 minutes. With using paper towel, squeeze excess water out of eggplants.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and very lightly sauté the eggplant slices for a minute or two. This will help eggplants to soften up and start bringing out their lovely sweet flesh.

In a large bowl, combine the partially cooked lentils, onion, garlic, bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, salt, mint, olive oil and the sugar, mix well. Season with ground black pepper, check the seasoning and add more salt if needed.

In a wide heavy pan, place a layer of the eggplant slices. Spread the half of the vegetable mixture over the eggplants evenly. Place the remaining of the eggplant slices over the top and spread the remaining vegetable mixture over. Add the water, cover and cook in medium to low heat for about 40 minutes.

Once cooked, cover and cool the dish in the pan. Serve at room temperature with some crusty bread.

Tips and facts on Eggplant (Aubergine):

1) This wonderful vegetable (actually fruit, as it has seeds) has about 90 % water, which makes it low in fat and calories. You need to get rid of the sour juice of the eggplant before cooking. You can do that by salting the eggplant slices, and squeezing the sour juice out using a paper towel.

2) You can’t eat eggplants raw but once cooked, the flesh becomes meaty and sweet; which makes a great vegetarian option.

3) We Turks love eggplants; we grill it, broil it, bake in the oven, smoke it and even make lovely jams out of it! As nation’s favorite vegetable, it is believed we have over 200 recipes featuring the beloved eggplant, patlican.

4) When shopping for eggplants, look for bright dark purple color and a healthy green stem. It should feel heavy for its size. Try to get a small to medium size eggplants as they tend to have less seeds.

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Angus's Spaghetti Shrimp with Turkish Red Pepper Flakes infused Olive Oil – Angus'un Karidesli, Kirmizi Biberli Makarnasi


My husband Angus makes an incredible shrimp spaghetti using Turkish red pepper flakes and he kindly let me share his wonderful and easy to prepare recipe with you. He infuses the smoky Turkish red pepper flakes in olive oil, which adds an amazing flavor to the shrimps. I always, always look forward to his shrimp spaghetti!

If you can’t get hold of Turkish red pepper flakes (preferably Aleppo), substitute with hot chili flakes. Make it as fiery as you like!

Serves 2 generously

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

280 gr / 10 ounce spaghetti
225 gr / 1/2 lb raw king prawns, shelled
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon of Turkish red pepper flakes

Thinly shaved Pecorino Romano to serve

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of lightly salted boiling water until a minute before it is al dente (please refer to the cooking time on the pasta’s packaging). Drain the water and set aside the pasta in the colander.

Heat the olive oil in the pasta pan on a medium heat and add the red pepper flakes. Stir gently and let the red pepper flakes infuse to the olive oil for about 30 seconds (avoid cooking longer as the red pepper flakes go black and can burn quickly). Add the shrimps and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, combine the cooked spaghetti with the shrimps and mix well for a minute. Make sure all the spaghetti is well coated with the olive oil infused red pepper flakes and the shrimp.

Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl and serve with shaved Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. A green leafy salad with a simple lemon dressing goes very well with this dish.

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Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters with Feta and Dill – Kabak Mucveri

Mucver; zucchini fritters with feta cheese, onion and dill

Mucver; zucchini fritters with feta cheese, onion and dill

Zucchini are the most widely available summer squash in Turkey. They are very versatile, used in many dishes and their flowers are perfect for stuffing. This wonderful vegetarian fritters are fantastic accompanied by garlic infused yoghurt or a leafy salad and crusty bread. You can enjoy them as a meze/appetizer for supper or light lunch dish. The bite size versions would be a great party / finger food too. They are also wonderful served next day as a cold snack.

If you are after a lighter flavor, you can bake the spread in a greased baking dish (at 180 C / 350 F) for about 35-40 minutes, like my mother does. You can then cut in squares and serve.

I love the vegetarian dishes, mezes and dips in Turkish cuisine and over 70 % of my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, showcases these recipes, including this Kabak Mucveri. Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book is available to order at this link.

Adopted from Angie Mitchell’s Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

3 medium zucchini (courgette), grated
150 gr / 6 oz  Turkish white cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
45 ml / 3 tablespoons all purpose (plain) white flour
Pinch of paprika (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil (or sunflower oil) for shallow frying
Sprigs of dill for garnish

Place the grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Crumble or grate the feta cheese.

Using a tea towel, squeeze out any excess water from the zucchini and put in a bowl.

Transfer the flour to a large bowl and beat in the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and beat into a batter (Take care not to add salt if your cheese is salty). Mix well.

In a frying pan, heat enough oil to shallow fry. Using a tablespoon, drop the spoonfuls of batter mix into the hot oil. Fry over a medium heat on both sides until golden brown. Remove with a straining spoon and drain on absorbent kitchen paper towel.

This meze (appetizer) can be enjoyed warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. Garnish with sprigs of dill and accompany with garlic infused yoghurt.

For garlic infused yoghurt, crush a couple of garlic cloves with salt, combine the yoghurt and garlic and beat until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Note: Summer squash is an effective diuretic and its potassium content benefits those with high blood pressure. Dill is known to aid digestion.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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