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

Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with lemon, olive oil

Baba ghanoush; Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

This delicious salad or dip, Abagannuc or Baba ghanoush, is very popular in Antakya and Southern Turkish cuisine and one of our family favorites. It has many variations throughout the Middle East, where tahini maybe added or plain yoghurt and what to include or not include may invite heated debates! No matter how the finishing touch will be, the essence of this salad remains the same; the aubergines are traditionally cooked over open fire or over the burner to get the smoky flavor. The skin of aubergines and peppers burn and their flesh becomes soft, sweet and tender.

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook the vegetables without much of a mess!

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

You can cook the aubergines a day ahead of time; just add ½ juice of lemon after mashing and combine well, that will help to retain its color. Cover and keep in the fridge until you make the salad. I also added a drizzle of pomegranate molasses as a dressing in this version; the smoky flavor of aubergines and peppers worked really well with pomegranate molasses. When in season, pomegranate seeds would also be lovely over this salad.

Abagannuc or baba ghanoush goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table book now available here

I hope you enjoy our version of Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, packed with flavor. This delicious meze and over 90 authentic recipes from my homeland are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table; signed copies available at this link (it is 10 % off), delivered worldwide including the US and Canada.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 3 reviews
Baba ghanoush-Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with garlic, olive oil
 
Abagannuc or baba ghanoush is a popular mezze or salad in southern Turkish cuisine, where eggplants are char grilled to get a delicious, smoky flavor. It has different versions throughout the Middle East. We'd like to add a little pomegranate molasses in our version for a tangy, sweet flavor. This salad / dip goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Mezzes, Salads
Cuisine: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 medium aubergines / eggplants
  • 1 pointy red pepper or bell pepper
  • 3 small, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with salt and finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • A drizzle (about 10ml/2 tsp) pomegranate molasses to decorate (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to serve
Instructions
  1. Line the base of your burners with a foil to protect, keeping only the burners exposed.
  2. Place the eggplants or aubergines and pepper directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally. (You can roast the tomatoes on a barbeque or on the oven at 200 C for about 20-25 minutes, as it can get quite messy over the burner.)
  3. If you prefer not to have the smoky flavor, you can also score the aubergines with a knife in few places and bake on a baking tray for 50 – 60 minutes. In this case, turn them around every 20 minutes or so that they would cook evenly. Pepper would need about 35-40 minutes to cook in the oven and chargrill.
  4. If you are cooking over the burner, use metal tongs to turn the aubergines and pepper around so that all sides would cook evenly and the skin is nicely chargrilled. Cook until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft.
  5. Remove the cooked aubergines, tomatoes and the pepper to a colander to allow them to cool. Once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain aubergine’s bitter juices. I like to gently squeeze the aubergine flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  6. Chop the flesh of the aubergine, pepper and tomatoes coarsely and mash them with a fork.
  7. Place the flesh in a bowl and stir in the chopped garlic, lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil, combine well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. When serving, drizzle with pomegranate molasses over (if you prefer to) and give a gentle mix; its tangy flavor works really well with the smoked aubergine and peppers.
 

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Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Chestnuts & My Turkish Cooking Classes in Surrey & Istanbul in February!

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

As much as I love indulging in rich festive food during the holidays, I look forward to returning to my salad days. Salads made with seasonal ingredients form an important part of Turkish cuisine and this refreshing spinach salad with jewel like pomegranates and seasonal chestnuts became a big hit with us.

Roasted chestnut stall in Istanbul; they are iresistable.

Roasted chestnut stall, Kestaneci, in Istanbul; they are irresistible.

Roasted chestnut stalls are a frequent sight in Turkey at this time of the year; straight from the roasting tin, I love their delicious, warming and comforting taste. You can use roasted or cooked chestnuts in this salad. Precooked chestnuts are also widely available in supermarkets these days. We often use nuts in Turkish cuisine; I also added some pine nuts to my salad and sautéed it with the cooked chestnuts, for a nice texture and a delicious bite.

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama - Turkey

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama – Turkey

The star of this salad is really the pomegranate seeds. Packed with goodness, antioxidants and a deliciously vibrant, sweet & tangy flavor, they just bring the salad together so nicely. A drizzle of pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is my choice of salad dressing here; we use this dressing a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine, as in Kisir, Bulgur wheat salad with vegetables and Turkish hot pepper paste, or the Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts. You may use a good quality balsamic vinegar instead, if you can’t get pomegranate molasses.

 Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts - delicious and wholesome

Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts – delicious and wholesome

I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious and refreshing salad. Here is another idea; why not add some pomegranate seeds to plain yogurt, with some walnuts, dried apricots and a drizzle of honey for breakfast ? A delicious, wholesome start for the day 🙂

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Serves 2 – 4

175gr / 6oz fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and pat dried

½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

2-3 celery sticks, roughly chopped

45ml/3 tbsp. pine nuts

110gr/4oz cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

30ml/2tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1tbsp pomegranate molasses

Seeds of a pomegranate, about 8oz / 1 cup (you can use less if you prefer)

Slices of crusty bread or Turkish pide (flat bread) to serve

 

Arrange the washed spinach leaves, sliced red onions and chopped celery in a salad bowl, combine well.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the cooked chestnuts and pine nuts. Gently sauté until pine nuts turn to golden brown (keep an eye on especially the pine nuts, as they burn quickly after browning).

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Toss the sautéed nuts to the salad mixture and combine well. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses and stir in the pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately, accompanied by Turkish pide (flat bread) or some crusty bread. This salad also complements grilled fish and meat very nicely.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

My Turkish Cooking Classes coming up in Weybridge- Surrey and Istanbul in February!

Refreshing crumbled feta salad with spices

Delicious crumbled feta cheese salad with spices & olive oil; Cokelek Salatasi

I am delighted to be teaching 2 Turkish cookery classes in February;  on Saturday, 8th February, from 10am to 12 noon in Weybridge, Surrey and on Wednesday, 19th February at the Istanbul Culinary Institute in Istanbul.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year;  it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year; it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

From Feta Cheese Salad with red onions, tomatoes and spices to Stuffed Courgettes (Zucchini) with ground meat and chickpeas in Pomegranate Sauce and to Revani, Semolina sponge cake & More; Please join us to learn how to prepare delicious and wholesome Turkish Cuisine and artful use of spices.

You can find the details for the classes at this link, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Cookery Classes. I would be delighted to have your company to share and enjoy Turkish cuisine together, if you’d like to join us. Participation is limited and early booking recommended.

 

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Turkish Meatballs, Kofte 101 and Grated Carrots, Red Cabbage Salad

Homemade Turkish meatballs; a childhood favorite; delicious with grated carrot & red cabbage salad aside.

Homemade Turkish meatballs; a childhood favorite; delicious with grated carrot & red cabbage salad aside.

These homemade Turkish meatballs are one of my childhood favorites; my mother would always keep some in the freezer ready to cook instantly and the delicious aroma greets you as soon as you are home. For me there is nothing quite like homemade meatballs, our koftes.

Historic Sultanahmet Koftecisi; they have been making delicious koftes for almost 100 years.

Historic Sultanahmet Koftecisi; they have been making delicious koftes for almost 100 years.

We Turks love our koftes, Turkish meatballs. Almost every region in Turkey has their own specialty of these meatballs. One of my favorite type is the Sultanahmet Koftesi prepared by the historic Sultanahmet Koftecisi; served with fasulye piyazi, delicious beans salad with red onions and sumac aside; they have been making these delicious Koftes in Sultanahmet, Istanbul for almost 100 years.

Izmir kofte; Turkish meatballs with potato, peppers and tomatoes; simply delicious.

Izmir kofte; Turkish meatballs with potato, peppers and tomatoes; simply delicious.

How about the melt-in-the-mouth Izmir Kofte? Here the Turkish style meatballs are cooked with tomatoes, peppers and onions in a delicious tomato based sauce. A delicious, complete meal you can prepare ahead of time.

Back to our Turkish meatballs 101; here are some important tips on kofte making that my mother taught us; it is simple, delicious and a winner with children, as well as adults. I follow the delicious Turkish blog, Kulaktan Dolma Tarifler by Semsa Denizsel and loved her tips on making proper kofte too. Now comes some important tips on homemade Turkish meatballs:

  • I like to have half & half mixture of ground beef and ground lamb in my meatballs; you need at least about 25% of the meat content as ground lamb for that delicious, melt-in-the-mouth meatball taste.
  • Our koftes have quite a generous grated onion in it, as well as parsley, stale bread, 1 egg and salt & ground black pepper seasoning. My mother includes a generous amount of stale bread crumbs in the mixture and that makes koftes taste wonderful and moist.
  • Mix the ingredients (except the meat) first; that softens the onions and the mixture blends with the meat better.
  • Make sure to rest the shaped meatballs in the fridge for about 30 minutes or more before cooking, that helps the meatballs and flavors to settle.
  • If you are a kofte, meatballs fan like we are, make a double batch and freeze half of the shaped but uncooked meatballs in the fridge. You can layer these meatballs in a container and put cling film between each layer, so that they don’t stick together. Just make sure to remove the cling film before cooking.
  •  A great tip from Semsa; cook one meatball on the pan or grill first to check the seasoning. If they need more salt or pepper, add some to the rest of the meatballs. Good seasoning is essential.
Kofte, homemade Turkish meatballs, a favorite for the children and adults.

Kofte, homemade Turkish meatballs, a favorite for the children and adults.

Turkish cuisine is a feast to all senses; healthy, family friendly, great for entertaining too. I have included over 90 authentic Turkish recipes at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table can be ordered at this link with 30 % off discount, it is delivered promptly, worldwide.

Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table book, available to order at this link

 

Homemade Turkish Meatballs, Kofte; A Childhood Favorite: 

Serves 4 – 6

225gr/ 8oz ground beef

225gr/8oz ground lamb

1 medium or 2 small onions, grated

3 slices of stale bread (of your choice), crusts removed

1 egg

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Light olive oil for shallow frying

 

Kofte ingredients; first mix all except the meat well.

Kofte ingredients; first mix all except the meat well.

 Soak the stale bread slices in a small bowl of water then squeeze them dry. In a large bowl, combine all the kofte, meatball ingredients except the meat and knead well. That will help soften the onions and blend the ingredients homogeneously. Stir in the ground meat, season with salt (about 1 – 2 tsp.) and ground black pepper to your taste. Knead for a good 3-5 minutes with your hands, until the mixture becomes elastic and mixed well. Cover this mixture with a cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Place the meatballs in a tray ready cook side by side.

Place the meatballs in a tray ready cook side by side.

After 30 minutes or just before cooking them, have a bowl of water next to you and start shaping the meatballs. First wet your hands and take a small tangerine size of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Slightly flatten each ball with the heel of your hand. Place the meatballs in a tray ready cook side by side and continue until all the meat mixture is shaped into meatballs.

Sizzling, delicious koftes, Turkish meatballs.

Sizzling, delicious koftes, Turkish meatballs.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a wide, heavy (preferably non-stick) pan and place the meatballs, 4 -5 of them at a time. Cook for about 6 -8 minutes (3- 4 minutes each side), until cooked and browned on all sides. Alternatively, you can grill them until brown both sides. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Home made kofte, Turkish meatballs, ready to enjoy!

Home made kofte, Turkish meatballs, ready to enjoy!

Serve the meatballs hot with this refreshing grated carrots and red cabbage salad by the side. Cacik dip of diced cucumber in yoghurt with dried mint would go also really well with these delicious meatballs.

 Grated Carrots and Red Cabbage Salad – Havuc ve Kirmizi Lahana Salatasi

This crunchy, vibrant salad is popular served in lokantas as well as kebab houses in Turkey and accompanies grilled meat, fish and vegetables deliciously. It is simple to make and the refreshing lemon juice and the sharp balsamic vinegar dressing pair greatly with the carrots and the red cabbage.

Vibrant, refreshing grated carrot and red cabbage salad with sliced cucumbers.

Vibrant, refreshing grated carrot and red cabbage salad with sliced cucumbers.

Serves 4 – 6

1 small red cabbage

2 medium carrots, grated

1 small or ½ medium size cucumber, halved and sliced

30 ml/ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

45 ml. / 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Remove the tough outer leaves and the middle hard part of the red cabbage. Halve the cabbage and slice thinly. Place the sliced cabbage in a bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt and the pepper; using your hands to knead well to soften them up. If you have time, cover and keep this marinated cabbage in the fridge for a few hours before serving, for all the flavors to blend in. This salad keeps in the fridge for a good couple of days and it will taste even better the next day!

Place the grated carrots in a bowl and drizzle 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and the lemon juice over. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Place the dressed carrots and the cabbage side by side on a serving dish. Add the sliced cucumbers and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the cabbage and cucumbers. Serve the salad with your meatballs or grilled fish or vegetables.

 Havuc ve kirmizi lahana salatasi; grated carrots and red cabbage pair well with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

Havuc ve kirmizi lahana salatasi; grated carrots and red cabbage pair well with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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