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Recipes    

Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Casseroles and Stews

Turkish Meatballs and vegetables casserole; Izmir Kofte, my way


This is a popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!) that can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain white rice or a slice of crusty bread. This is Izmir Kofte my way, as I like to add some more vegetables. You can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

I usually double the recipe and freeze some, as it freezes very well.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time :30 minutes             Cooking time : 45 -50 minutes

For the kofte (meatballs):

450 gr /1 lb ground lamb or beef, or a mixture
1 medium onion, grated
2 slices of stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
1 egg, beaten
1 bunch finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

A bowl of water for kneading kofte / wetting hands

And the rest:

450 gr / 1 lb medium potatoes, sliced like thin apple quadrants
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, coarsely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
240 ml / 1 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the kofte ingredients except the meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles a soft dough. With wet hands take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a large finger shape about 1 inch thick. Continue until all the mixture is used. The meatballs can now be covered and stored in the fridge until required.

In an oven dish, create layers with the vegetables and the meatballs. Add the chopped tomatoes, water and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Bake in the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Serve hot, with plain rice or some crusty bread by the side.

My cookery book Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, covers over 90 authentic Turkish recipes, including delicious casseroles like this and many more, with my personal stories and stunning photos. Signed copies can be ordered here at this link if interested, it is delivered worldwide:

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Karniyarik – Stuffed Eggplants (Aubergines) with ground lamb, tomatoes and onions

 

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes

Karniyarik; Stuffed eggplants with ground meat, onion, tomatoes




This impressive dish is a legacy of the Ottoman Palace kitchens and yet another of the imperial demands for ingenuity concerning the much loved eggplant, aubergine, you will find this dish wherever you go in Turkey! Though traditionally made with ground lamb, you may prepare it with ground beef or have a vegetarian version too. Simply replace the meat with your favorite vegetable (mushrooms, chickpeas work very well), sprinkle some grated cheese over the top and bake it, it turns out to be a delicious alternative.

This Karniyarik recipe and many more are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, along with stunning photography and personal stories. Signed copies are now 30 % OFF for a limited time at this link and delivered worldwide including the USA.

You can cook this dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven. Karniyarik freezes very well, once cooked. Here’s also my YouTube video for how to make Karniyarik :

Preparation time – 45 minutes Cooking time – 55 minutes

3 dark purple eggplants (aubergines; small to medium variety if possible)
340 gr / 12 ounces ground (minced) lean lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
240 ml / 1 cup water
1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian (flat) parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 – 4 tablespoons canola oil or ground nut oil for shallow frying
6 thin slices of tomato and green bell peppers, seeded – for decorative topping
1 -2  teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

Cut the eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 1/2″-13 mm- uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants.

In a little of the olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Add the ground lamb and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix well. Continue cooking for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Seasoning is important, so please check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt or pepper if you would like.

Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the canola oil or gorundnut oil. With the split sides facing up, place them into a well-oiled ovenproof dish or a baking tray. Spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a green bell pepper. Mix the water with a drizzle of olive oil. Pour this mixture on the baking tray. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until they are tender and the eggplants are nicely browned on top.

Serve hot with plain rice and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.

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Baked Chicken Casserole with Vegetables; Firinda Sebzeli Tavuk

Baked Chicken Casserole with Vegetables, Sebzeli firin tavuk

Baked Chicken Casserole with Vegetables, Sebzeli firin tavuk

In Turkey, we use a lot of fresh vegetables – usage of frozen vegetable and fruit is minimal. With this abundance, you can create endless casseroles with adding meat or keeping it vegetarian.

This recipe appears a lot in our home; it is so easy to make, healthy and very delicious too. You can add or replace your favorite vegetables of the season; peas, eggplants and zucchini work well too. I like to double the recipe and freeze the half, as it freezes so well. You can make it a complete meal with plain rice a side and a dollop of plain yoghurt.

Please remember; Turkish cooking is all about using fresh produce and flavoring the dishes with artful use of spices. It is wonderfully amazing to see that you can have healthy food without compromising the taste, thanks to the spices. Make your casserole as fiery as you would like with more red pepper flakes! Afiyet Olsun!

Serves 4 – 6

Preparation time: 35 minutes  Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

450 gr/1 lb chicken breasts(cut in chunks) and thighs
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
450 gr/1 lb potatoes, cut in half and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper paste (or tomato paste)
45 ml/3 tablespoons olive oil
400 gr/14 oz can chopped tomato
240 ml/8 oz/1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon (or more!) red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C/350F/Gas mark 4

In your casserole dish marinate the vegetables with olive oil, chopped tomatoes, red pepper paste (or tomato paste), salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes. Make sure all the vegetables are well coated with the olive oil, paste and spices using your hands.

Add the meat and blend well with the marinated vegetables. You can add a little more pinch of salt if you like. Cover and let the flavors blend for about 15 minutes in the fridge.

Add the water to the marination, mix well. Bake in the oven uncovered. Half way through baking (after about 20 minutes), take the casserole out of the oven and give a gentle mix; this will give a chance for the vegetables and the meat to golden brown evenly. Put the casserole back in the oven and cook for further 20 minutes or until nicely golden brown on top.

Serve warm with plain rice and a dollop of natural plain yoghurt by the side.

Tips: You can marinate the meat with the vegetables in the morning or even a day in advance; cover and leave it in the fridge for the flavors to blend even more.

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