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

Asure – Noah’s Dessert

Asure; dessert of Noah's Ark; a festive treat

Asure; Noah’s Dessert; a festive treat

This delicious dessert of grains, pulses and dried fruit, referred as Asure or Ashura – Noah’s Dessert-, is most probably one of Turkey’s most famous dessert. According to the legend, Noah made it on the Ark by combining whatever ingredients were left on the ark. It is also the traditional dessert to serve on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharrem, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Asure is always made in large quantities and shared with friends and neighbors.

Though the ingredients list is pretty rich, I believe whatever grains, pulses and dried fruit you have in your pantry will do. And if you are short of time, why not using good quality pre-cooked chickpeas and beans in cans; I am all up for it if it helps making this wonderful dessert. Adding the pomegranate seeds over the top give a festive touch and make the dessert refreshing too.

Desserts play an important role in Turkish culture and the centre piece at religious festivals, weddings and family celebrations. A wide variety of sweet treats from baklava to fruit based desserts are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. You can order a signed copy at this link, if you’d like.

This recipe is a slight adaptation from dear Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking; one of my favorite authors.

Serves 10 – 12

50gr/2oz haricot (navy) beans, soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
50gr/2oz skinned broad (fava) beans soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
50gr/2oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and drained
115gr/4oz pot barley, with husks removed, and soaked overnight in plenty of water
50gr/2oz rice, washed and drained
115gr/4oz dried apricots
50gr/2oz raisins
50gr/2oz currants
225gr/8oz sugar
30ml/2 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch) or rice flour
150ml /1/4 pint rose water

To garnish:
2 teaspoons/10 ml cinnamon
4-5 dried figs, sliced
4-5 dried apricots, sliced
15 ml/1 tablespoon sultanas
30 ml/2 tablespoon crushed walnuts
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate

Cook the beans in separate pans of fresh water until just tender. The haricot beans will require about 50 minutes; the broad beans and chickpeas about 1 hour.

Transfer the barley and its soaking water to a large, deep pan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender, topping up with the water during the cooking time if necessary.

Add the cooked beans, chickpeas and the rice, and bring the liquid to boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place all the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then drain. Add the fruit to the pan with the beans and stir in the sugar. Continue to simmer, stirring from time to time, until the mixture thickens.

Mix the corn flour or rice flour with a little water to form a creamy paste. Add 30ml/2tbsp of the hot liquid from the pan to the paste and add it to the pan, stirring constantly. Add the rose water and continue to simmer the mixture for another 15 minutes, stirring from to time, until the mixture is very thick.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Shake the bowl to make sure the surface is flat and leave the pudding to cool. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the pudding and arrange the sliced dried figs, apricots, sultanas and walnuts over the top. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over generously. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts – Fistikli ve Cevizli Baklava

Baklava; image from Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, by Sian Irvine Photography

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. There is no bad time for a good piece of baklava! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful.

I am passionate about my homeland’s delicious, healthy Turkish cuisine; this baklava recipe and over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland; Signed hardback copies are now 30 % OFF here, and delivered worldwide, including the US – ebook option available too. Afiyet Olsun.

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

This recipe is an adaptation from Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, one of my favorite Turkish cookery authors.  My version of baklava is less sweet and more fragrant and lemony, must say really pleased with it. With using filo pastry sheets, baklava is much easier to make than you think. I hope you would give it a go sometime and enjoy this wonderful treat.

Also, here is my Baklava YouTube video, I hope you enjoy it:

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Serves 12
Preparation time :20 minutes                 Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

230 gr/ 8oz / 1 cup melted unsalted butter
440 gr/1 lb. 2 packs of filo pastry sheets – total 24 sheets –
375 gr/ 13 oz. walnuts and unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
10 ml / 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the syrup:
450 gr/ 2 ¼ cups sugar
420 ml/ 14 fl. oz. / 1 ¾ cup water
Juice of ½ large lemon

30cmx19 cm (12inx7in) baking dish to bake

To serve:
Ground pistachio nuts to sprinkle over the baklavas

Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F / Gas 3

Make the syrup first. Put the sugar into a heavy pan, pour in water and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice, them simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Leave to cool in the pan.

Melt the butter in a small pan and then brush a little over the bottom and sides of the baking pan.

To thaw frozen filo sheets, it is best to place it in the fridge the night before and bring it to room temperature 2 hours before using. If in the fridge, take out the filo pastry sheets 20 minutes prior using, to bring to the room temperature. Place two sheets of filo pastry in the bottom of the greased pan and brush it with melted butter (trim from the edges to fit, if needed). Continue until you have used 12 filo sheets, brushing every two sheets with butter. Ease the sheets into the corners and trim the edges if they flop over the rim of the pan.

Spread the walnuts over the 12th buttered sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon, and then continue as before with the remaining filo sheets. Brush the top one as well, then, using a sharp knife cut diagonal parallel lines right through all the layers to the bottom to form small diamond shapes.

Bake the baklava into the oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden – if it is still pale, increase the temperature for a few minutes at the end.

When the baklava is ready, remove it from the oven and slowly pour the cooled syrup over the piping hot pastry. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to soak up the syrup, then take it out and leave to cool.

Once the baklava is cool, lift the diamond shaped pieces out of the pan and arrange them in a serving dish. Serve baklava pieces with ground pistachios over them, always at room temperature.

Note: Baklava should never be stored at the refrigerator, as the fat congeals, pastry absorbs the moisture and it becomes soggy.

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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