Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Cookery Classes

I teach Turkish cooking classes in England,Turkey & USA, hope you can join us!,
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Pilafs and Rice

Rice with Lamb (or Beef) and Onions; Etli Pilav, The Aegean Way; and Spring time in Ephesus – popular with children and cats too!:)

Rice, pilaff form a very important part of Turkish cuisine; we Turks like to have rice, bulgur wheat or pulses for at least one meal every day. Pilav or pilaffs are enjoyed as an accompaniment to stews and casseroles like to this Kuru Fasulye, dried beans stew with chicken in tomato sauce or are served as the main course, like this popular Turkish street food Nohutlu Pilav – Rice with chickpeas (and chicken) . The cooking of rice is regarded as an art (and traditionally an important test for the bride-to-be to master before marriage!); the grains must be soft but still have a bite to them.

Etli Pilav - Rice with onions and chunks of meat; a delicious meal on its own.

Etli Pilav – Rice with onions and chunks of meat; a delicious meal on its own.

One of the dishes we made at our Aegean style Turkish cooking class at Hanimeli, near Sirince was this very delicious & impressive Etli Pilav – Rice cooked with chunks of meat and onions. It is common to incorporate meat and vegetables into the rice and flavors change in different regions, with the use of different spices. It has been very interesting to see  how Etli Pilav is made at the Aegean region and compare it with the Mevlubi – rice with marinated meat, eggpplant, onions and potatoes cooked in Southern Turkey, more fragrant and richer with the use of spices and red pepper paste, biber salcasi.

Mevlubi; Upside down rice with marinated meat, eggplants, onions and potato; Southern Turkish way

Mevlubi; Upside down rice with marinated meat, eggplants, onions and potato; the  Southern Turkish way

















We greatly enjoyed this delicately flavored Etli Pilav, the Aegean style; the marriage of sauteed onions and meat was so delicious cooked with rice.

Rice with Chunks of Meat and Onion – Etli Pilav

Serves 4-6

Preparation time : 15 minutes                         Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

350gr/12oz/1 ¾ cups long grain or wholegrain basmati rice, rinsed and drained

450gr/1 lb. beef or lamb, cut in small chunks

2 medium onions, quartered and sliced thinly

30ml/2 tablespoon butter

1lt/4 cups of the meat’s cooking liquid reserved

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Non-stick pan works best for this dish

Make sure to reserve the cooking liquid of the meat for the rice.

Make sure to reserve the cooking liquid of the meat for the rice.


Place the meat in a heavy pan, pour in the water (enough to cover the meat and some more) and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until tender at low to medium heat. Season with salt and ground black pepper and make sure to reserve and keep the cooking liquid.











Spread the cooked meat evenly over the onions, then stir in the rice and the cooking liquid over.

In a separate pan (non-stick pan works best), stir in 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Then take out the cooked meat from the other pan and spread them evenly over the onions. Over the meat, stir in and spread the rinsed rice. Add the cooking liquid, the remaining 1 tbsp. butter and salt to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed.

Once cooked, turned the heat off and place a paper towel over the pan and cover with the lid. Rest the rice for about 10 minutes, this will help all the moisture to be absorbed and rice to settle.

Hanimeli's staff is getting ready to turn the rice upside down!

Hanimeli’s staff is getting ready to turn the rice upside down!

Before serving, turn the rice upside down on a wide serving tray, onions and the meat will appear as layers at the top, looking like a delicious savory cake. The delicious flavors of the cooked meat and onion blend in with the rice and make it very flavorsome.

Etli Pilav; Upside down rice with onions and meat.

Etli Pilav; Upside down rice with onions and meat.





Season with ground black pepper and serve hot. This dish can be a meal on its own, or you can complement with this Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables, Zeytinyagli Patlican or how about with this refreshing Purslane with garlic yoghurt, Yogurtlu Semizotu?

Joy of Cooking together; our feast is ready.

Joy of Cooking together; our feast is ready.





Etli Pilav - Rice with onions and meat-; Zeytinyagli Patlican - Eggplants with vegetables cooked in olive oil and many more at our Aegean style cooking class in Turkey

Etli Pilav – Rice with onions and meat-; Zeytinyagli Patlican – Eggplants with vegetables cooked in olive oil and many more at our Aegean style cooking class in Turkey

Hope this inspires for healthy, delicious meals, cooked and enjoyed together.  Afiyet Olsun,


Spring time in Ephesus, Turkey – Popular with children and cats too!-

The Curete Street, "The citizens of the city" - the main street of the Ephesus, Turkey.

The Curete Street, “The citizens of the city” – the main street of the Ephesus, Turkey.

 I love to be able to have a chance to cook with locals and enjoy regional Turkish cuisine,  exploring the magnificent sites all around Turkey. After our Aegean style Turkish cooking class, we made it to the Ephesus, dating back to 6000 BC, to the Neolithic age. Ephesus, the best preserved Roman city in the Eastern Mediterranean with its Temple of Artemis, is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.  Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which served to make it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world. Only about 25 % of this magnificent site has been excavated; just imagine its grandeur once more excavation done.

Ephesus and the lovely cats ; )

Ephesus and the lovely cats : )


































Spring is a great time to visit Ephesus, with mild, pleasant temperatures reaching around 70F. Cats seems to be the residents of Ephesus at the moment, greatly enjoying this fantastic site! It has also been lovely to see children from babies, toddlers to teenagers at Ephesus; seeing is believing and this experience is I am sure to stay with them more than any history book. I remember taking our son to Ephesus when he was about 5 years old; his fascination with the Old Roman Milestone is still vivid in his memories. And how about this little one? He certainly enjoyed strolling around Ephesus!

Children love exploring Ephesus too!

Children love exploring Ephesus too!
































Ephesus, once, the trade centre of the ancient world, is located on a very fertile valley. Here is the Goddess of Victory, Nike, in Ephesus – next to one of the many fig trees in the region; they are simply everywhere in Ephesus.

Nike; the Goddess of Victory, at Ephesus - Turkey

Nike; the Goddess of Victory, at Ephesus – Turkey

Last but not least, the Libary of Celsus at Ephesus; what an impressive piece, still takes my breath away, even if I must have seen it over a dozen of times.

Celsus Library, Ephesus - Turkey

Celsus Library, Ephesus – Turkey


Up close at the Library of Celsus, Ephesus - Turkey

Up close at the Library of Celsus, Ephesus – Turkey

Before I sing off; I forgot to mention a wonderful eatery, Asik Restaurant, at my previous post on Didyma. We had a very delicious and generous Turkish Esnaf Lokanta style buffet lunch at Asik Restaurant, right accross the entrance of Didyma. Perhaps 15-20 different types of home cooked traditional Turkish food from Izmir kofte -meatballs with potato in tomato sauce, bulgur pilaff, stuffed cabbage leaves to  eggs cooked with spinach,karniyarik – stuffed eggplants with ground meat and vegetables filling are offer and  you feel like you are in heaven. Hasan Bey treated us to a real Turkish hospitality and we re-filled our plates with this generous, delicious food and greatly enjoyed it. Many of these recipes are available at this blog, if you would like to have a go.

Zeytinyaglis, stews, stuffed cabbage, koftes and more; a delicious and generous Turkish buffet spread at Asik Restaurant, Didyma.

Zeytinyaglis, stews, stuffed cabbage, koftes and more; a delicious and generous Turkish buffet spread at Asik Restaurant, Didyma.

My best wishes for exciting, fulfilling travels, Selamlar,


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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!



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Give Bulgur a Chance and Create Delicious, Satisfying Meals

If you have been following this blog for a while, you must have noticed that bulgur wheat is often used in Turkish cuisine. In addition to its great health benefits, (like it’s wholegrain and high in fiber), I love its delicious, nutty taste and that it is so easy to create a variety of delicious meals with it in no time.

Kisir; Bulgur Wheat Salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses - tastes even better the next day!

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. The coarse type is used for pilaff and fine bulgur is used in salads. Take this wonderful Bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses, Kisir. It is ‘a bowl of health’, refreshing and taste even better the next day!

Stuffed Zucchini (Courgettes), and Peppers with Bulgur, Southern Turkish Style

How about stuffing vegetables with bulgur? A popular way to enjoy Bulgur, especially at the Middle and Southern part of Turkey, a delicious and satisfying meal with some plain yoghurt by the side.

Potato and Bulgur patties with pomegranate molasses, a wonderful appetizer

Bulgur also features quite a lot in Turkish appetizers. These Potato and Bulgur patties are one of my favorite mezzes; they are scrumptious dipped on pomegranate molasses (or good balsamic vinegar).

Spicy Lentil and Bulgur soup with dried mint and vegetables

Bulgur can be a part of hearty, delicious soups too, like this Spicy Bulgur and Lentil Soup. It is common for this soup to be enjoyed as part of breakfast in Anatolia, central part of Turkey.

Bulgur is healthy, delicious, affordable and now widely available. I hope you can give bulgur a chance, you won’t be disappointed. If you are already enjoying bulgur, I wonder what your favorite bulgur recipe is, would you share with us?

Here is a new, delicious recipe featuring bulgur; it has been a great hit at my recent Cooking Class, I hope you enjoy it too.

Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Sautéed Almonds

In Central Anatolia, bulgur wheat is eaten far more than the rice. We like to add vegetables and sometimes nuts to bulgur, like in this recipe. Sautéed almonds give a lovely texture and flavor to bulgur. This pilaff can be a meal by itself, why not serving with Shepherd’s Salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, drizzled with olive oil?

Bulgur Wheat with sauteed almonds


Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 10 minutes            Cooking time: 20 minutes (+10 min resting)

350gr/12oz bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained

75gr/3oz/3/4 cup blanched or flaked almonds

600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cup hot water

30ml/2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Handful of fresh herbs (like parsley or coriander), chopped to serve

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the bulgur, tossing it thoroughly. Pour in the hot water, season with salt and pepper and combine well. Bring to the boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat and cover the pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been completely absorbed.

Turn the heat off, cover the pan with a paper or tea towel and place the lid on top. Leave to steam for a further 10-15 minutes.

A nuts stall in Levent Market, Pazar - Istanbul. Nuts have an important part in Turkish cuisine (and it is OK to have a little siesta in hot summers day!)


Sauteed almonds

In the meantime, heat the rest of the oil in a small pan and stir in the almonds. Gently sauté the almonds for 3-4 minutes, until they are golden (take care, as they can burn quickly).

Stir in the sautéed almonds to the bulgur pilaff, mix well. Serve hot with chopped parsley, coriander, or dill on top. You can also enjoy this dish with Shepherd’s Salad of cucumber, tomatoes and peppers, with a drizzle of olive oil.

Ideally, I would love to eat my bulgur overlooking to fascinating Istanbul; if we can’t be there for the moment, hopefully the photo may provide some ambiance.

Imagine being by the Bosphorus, Istanbul over looking the Topkapi Palace and floating ferries, Vapur

Afiyet Olsun!



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