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Gluten-free recipes

Chickpea Pilaf with Chicken and Vegetables; Turn Your Leftovers into a Complete, Delicious Meal

Chickpea pilaf spiced up with red pepper flakes, chicken and vegetables; healthy and delicious way to turn your leftovers to a complete meal.

Nohutlu pilav, Chickpea Pilaf is a popular street food in Turkey. Street stalls, selling this delicious and great value pilaf, appear at almost every corner in Istanbul and elsewhere; all you need to do is to get a tub of this delicious grub with a few pickles or tursu by the side and your lunch is ready to be enjoyed!

Traditional Nohutlu Pilav, Chickpea Pilav at a street stall in Izmir; photo credit Turkey's For Life.

Just as I was preparing my version of the chickpea pilaf, I enjoyed reading the wonderful blog Turkey For Life’s delicious adventure in Izmir, where they had the nohutlu pilav; please have a look,  a great read : )

The story of Nohutlu Pilaf goes back to the Ottoman Period. According to Ghillie Basan’s  The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, Mahmut Pasha, the Grand Vizier of Mehmet the Conqueror, used to invite his Ministers to lunch every Friday, where he would serve a special mound of rice and chickpea pilaf at the end of the meal. As each minister dipped into the rice with his spoon, solid gold balls the same size as the chickpeas would be revealed, bringing good fortune to those who managed to one on their spoon.

A few red pepper flakes add a lot of flavor to the chickpeas, onions and chicken.

We do have more than our fair share of chickpeas in our house, as we eat hummus almost daily. This time I used the chickpeas in pilaf, to finish off the leftover vegetables and roast chicken we had recently. I love the original chickpea pilaf and its gorgeous buttery taste. At this version, I spiced the original nohutlu pilaf up a little. I sautéed the onions with our leftover chicken roast and Brussels sprouts with olive oil and red pepper flakes, then combined this with pilaf and chickpeas, which made a complete meal (A Japanese study has shown that adding spice & chilli to your meal reduces your appetite, another good reason to incorporate spices to your diet).

Chilli or red pepper flakes not only add a lot of flavor to your dishes, it also helps you to loose weight.

The pilaf was a delicious combination and we managed to finish all the leftovers; seeing the brussels sprouts especially disappearing at the children’s plate was a joy! You can any other vegetables of your choice here (peas work well too) and can also serve the vegetables by the side if you prefer that way. For a vegetarian option, simply omit the meat.

Chickpea pilaf with chicken and vegetables; a great makeover for your leftovers!

You can enjoy this delicious pilaf; Cacik – Cucumber & yoghurt with dried mint- or the refreshing Shepherd”s Salad would also complement well. Hope you enjoy this nohutlu pilav with a twist, Afiyet Olsun!

Serves 4-6

Preparation time:                20 minutes                            Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

100gr/4oz cooked left over chicken or your choice of meat, cut in stripes or small chunks

350gr/12oz long grain rice, rinsed and drained (you can use wholegrain basmati rice for gluten-free version)

100gr/4oz cooked chickpeas*, rinsed

100gr/4oz cooked (left over) peas or brussel sprouts, halved

2 medium onions, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon –optional-

15ml/1tbsp butter

30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

750ml/1 ¼ pints/3 cups chicken stock or water

5-10ml/1-2 tsp Turkish red pepper flakes/ chilli flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

*If you like to use dried chickpeas, you need to soak them in plenty of cold water a night before. The next day, drain the chickpeas, put them in a pan and fill with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, partially cover the pan. Simmer the chickpeas for about 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse well under cold running water.

Saute onions in olive oil and stir in the chicken and red pepper flakes,

Pour the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the onion and cook until it softens. Add the cooked chicken pieces and red pepper flakes, and combine well. Toss the cooked peas or brussels sprouts with the mixture and stir in the lemon juice (Being a lemon fan, I like the zing and the refreshing taste lemon juice brings to the dish. You can skip this if you prefer to). Season with salt and ground pepper. Cover and cook under low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat.

Chickpeas go well with onions, chicken and brussels sprouts.

In a separate pan, gently melt the butter. Add the rice and the stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, give a good stir and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and put the lid tightly on top. This will help rice to steam and the tea towel will absorb any excess moisture.

Stir in the cooked pilaf rice to the chickpeas with chicken and vegetables mixture, combine them well.

I hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

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Yoghurt with Dried Apricots, Walnuts, Pomegranates Seeds and Honey & More Ideas for a Delicious Brunch – Turkish Style

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and blueberries; healthy, delicious, refreshing start for your day. 

Dried apricots, figs, prunes and raisins; not only very nutritious but also very delicious.

I wanted to share a delicious, healthy and refreshing breakfast that we like to do in my family; yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and berries, drizzled with honey. This delicious treat is also suitable for gluten-free diet.

Back home in Istanbul, my parents still start a day with a few walnuts and dried fruit like apricots and prunes. Walnuts are power food; they are so rich in antioxidants that a small amount is more than enough. Just a handful of walnuts per day will help reduce the chances of heart disease, and other cardiovascular-related issues. Some of the best apricots are produced in Malatya, Turkey and the excess produce is being dried to be enjoyed all year around. Dried apricots and prunes are excellent sources of several important nutrients, including fiber, potassium and antioxidant carotenoids. Dried apricots and walnuts also pair very well, try the caramelized apricots stuffed with walnuts as a dessert; a delicious and nutritious treat. 

I have been eating this delicious yoghurt with dried and fresh fruits as a breakfast a lot recently; very refreshing and make you feel good. Yoghurt, another nutritious food that boosts your immune system, features a lot in Turkish cuisine. We use yoghurt in mezzes and appetizers, in soups, in marinating meat and many more.

I love the marriage of creamy yoghurt with the crunchy walnuts and juicy & zesty apricots, berries and pomegranates seeds. It is very easy to make and hopefully it will jump start your day!

This yoghurt with dried fruit, berries and walnuts is also suitable for gluten-free diet.

Serves 2

225 gr/8 oz/1 cup plain natural yoghurt

45 – 60 ml/ 3 – 4 tbsp walnuts, chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp dried apricots, chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp blueberries (or a berry of your choice)

30 ml / 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

15-30ml/ 1-2 tbsp natural honey

Place the yoghurt in a bowl and simply stir in the walnuts, dried apricot, berries and pomegranate seeds, give a gentle mix. Drizzle the honey over and sprinkle extra few pomegranate seeds or berries if you like.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Plain yoghurt, cheese, olives, oats and grains are also a part of Turkish breakfast.

We Turks love a good brunch especially at the weekends and to welcome the New Year; here are some of my favorite Turkish brunch treats, if you would like to indulge later in the day:

Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. eggs with Turkish dried beef sausage, sucuk, variety of cheese, sesame seeded bread rings, simit, honey with Turkish thivk cream, kaymak – a heavenly brunch to welcome the new year!

Eggs with Turkish dried beef sausages – Sucuklu Yumurta-

Sucuklu yumurta - Turkish dried beef sausages with egg; so irresistable.

This is for me the center piece of the Turkish breakfasts/brunches. The spicy Turkish sausage, sucuk, goes so well with the runny egg. This with a crusty bread and a glass of cay – Turkish tea – by the side, would be my ultimate brunch 🙂

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, spring (green) onions and feta cheese – Menemen

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onion and feta cheese, a delicious vegetarian breakfast.

 If you rather like a vegetarian option for your eggs; this scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese would just fit the bill; delicious, juicy and healthy.

 Fillo pastry rolls, stuffed with mashed potato, cheese and parsley – Patatesli, Peynirli Borek

Fillo pastry rolls with cheese, parsley and mashed potato; a winner with children, as well as adults!

Fillo pastry rolls with cheese, parsley and mashed potato; a winner with children, as well as adults!

No Turkish brunch is complete without boreks – paper thin pastry, yufka, stuffed with cheese and vegetables. If you can’t find yufka, fillo sheets work well. This recipe also makes use of any left over vegetable like potatoes, delicious.

Olive salad with onions, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses – Zeytin Ufeleme

Olives with tomatoes, onion, parsely flavoured with olive oil and pomegranate molasses, a delicious treat from Antakya, Antioch.

This delicious olive salad hails from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. Olives are deliciously flavoured with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Wonderful for brunch, as well as an appetizer.

Sesame encrusted bread rings – Simit

Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings must be the most popular street food in Turkey.

Simit is indeed the quintessential Turkish food; these sesame-encrusted bread rings must be the most popular snack and street food at home. Most folks in Turkey have simit for breakfast with a cup of cay (tea), sliced cucumber, tomatoes and feta cheese. Simit has a wonderful crust and softer inside, and easy to make at home.

 Cay – Turkish tea

A glass of cay, Turkish tea by the Bosphorus is the ultimate treat for me ; )

Well, Turkish tea, cay, goes down very well to accompany all above! Especially if you are by the Bosphorus, Istanbul, you may loose track of  how many glasses of cay you consumed : )

 

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Turkish Yoghurt Soup with rice, mint and red pepper flakes; Yayla Corbasi

Delicious, ready to eat soups, casseroles, rice and meat courses at the Fehmi Esnaf Lokantasi, Kadikoy- Istanbul – “slowly cooked fast food”, that we Turks love to indulge.

Soups, -“Corba” in Turkish-, form a very important part of Turkish diet; almost every dinner, especially in cooler months, start with soup in Turkish households. In rural Anatolia, it is very common for this yoghurt soup or the hearty red lentil soup to be eaten as breakfast, for a substantial meal, throughout the year. You see soup stalls in every town, village and city in Turkey.

Yayla corbasi; yoghurt with rice soup, flavoured with dried mint and red pepper flakes

This simple but delicious yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi, originates back to Anatolia’s earliest settlers and nomadic herdsman, and it is one of the most popular soups in Turkey, flavored with dried mint and paprika flakes. Traditionally long grain white rice and butter is used in the recipe, here in this version, I used whole grain basmati rice and used olive oil and butter half and half during our class recently. For gluten-free version, please use gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend.

Yayla Corbasi, ready to eat!

Yayla Corbasi is another good example of how you can add flavor through spices. The mild, plain taste of yoghurt is magically transformed with the red pepper flakes and dried mint infused butter/olive oil, to a different, delicious and refreshing level. I hope you can give it a go sometime.

Fancy more soup? How about Ezo Gelin Corbasi – Daughter-in-law’s spicy lentils and bulgur soup with quinoa or this Tomato and vegetables soup with orzo – Sebzeli seriye corbasi ? They are ready in a short time and can certainly warm you up.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 10 minutes               Cooking time: 40 minutes

1.2 litres/2pints/5 cups water (you can also use vegetable stock or for non-vegetarian version, meat/chicken stock if you’d like)

150gr/6oz/1 cup whole grain basmati rice, rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

500gr/1 ¼ lb./2 ¼  cups plain, thick and creamy yoghurt (brand Fage works well)

15ml/1 tbsp. plain flour (for gluten-free version, please use gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend)

2 egg yolk

15 ml/1 tbsp. dried mint

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the dried mint & paprika flakes sauce:

30ml/2 tbsp unsalted butter (you can use olive oil instead of butter, if you prefer)

½ tbsp paprika flakes – you can use more for a spicier flavor!-

½ tbsp dried mint

Whole grain basmati rice worked well in the yoghurt soup. Gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend replaced the plain flour really well too.

Bring the water to the boil in a heavy saucepan and add the rice. Stir well and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the rice is tender and has released its starch to thicken the soup. Remove from the heat.

The flour and egg yolks stabilize the yoghurt and keep it from curdling.

Meanwhile in a bowl, combine the yoghurt, flour, egg yolk and beat until smooth (the flour and egg yolks stabilize the yoghurt and keep it from curdling). From the pan, take a cupful of hot stock and whisk it into the mixture. Return the thickened egg mixture to the soup pan, stir in the dried mint and season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir well and simmer gently for another 10 minutes, or until the soup has a creamy consistency (please add some more water or stock if you like your soup thinner).

Dried mint adds a wonderful, refreshing flavor to this yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi.

To make the dried mint and paprika flakes sauce, melt the butter gently in a separate pan on a low heat. Stir in the dried mint and paprika flakes, stir and cook on a very low heat (so that the spices don’t burn) for about 30 seconds, until the spices start to sizzle. Whisk this sauce into the soup.

This dried mint and red pepper flakes infused sauce will transform the taste of our yoghurt based sauce; you can use olive oil instead of butter, if you like.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of extra paprika flakes for a spicier flavor, if you like.

Yayla Corbasi; yoghurt soup with whole grain rice, dried mint and red pepper flakes, ready!

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Note: If you can’t get strained yoghurt, you can make it yourself. Here is Ghillie Basan’s tip for making strained yoghurt: Line a sieve (strainer) with a piece of muslin and spoon creamy, natural yoghurt into it. Allow the excess liquid to drip through the muslin, then transfer the yoghurt from the sieve to a bowl.

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