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Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken; Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye and more

Dried pulses like chickpeas, beans and lentils are a big part of Turkish cuisine and we eat these staples almost daily; they are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare. Beans, which were established in the early history of Anatolia, are wholesome and nutritious. They are a great source of source of protein, vitamin B1 and dietary fiber. I love beans and included many beans based salads, dips and mains at my Turkish cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, signed copies available to order at this link.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book – signed copies available at this link

Pulse dishes  are very popular at home as mezzes – such as this  Warm hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive  oil made from chickpeas, tahini, cumin and extra virgin olive oil. Have you ever had hummus served warm? That’s the way we enjoy hummus especially in southern Turkey, warming the hummus brings out the wonderful flavors of tahini, cumin and olive oil, and it is just delicious.

This bean salad with tomatoes, olives, red onion slices and olives is wonderful for lunch or a side dish for grilled meat.

How about this delicious and substantial Turkish bean salad with eggs, olives, onions, and tomatoes; Fasulye Piyazi, for lunch ? We like to serve this salad along with grilled meatballs at home, such a delicious, healthy treat.

Kuru Fasulye; one of the most traditional Turkish dishes, wholesome and so delicious.

This week, I wanted to share our delicious traditional bean stew, Kuru Fasulye.  This bean stew  is very popular at Turkish homes as well as in our traditional restaurants, lokantas. Traditional lokantas in Turkey are also called Esnaf Lokantasi; as the workers used to come to these restaurants for their lunch break- is a wonderful concept.

Fehmi Lokantasi in Kadikoy; delicious, precooked meals all lined up – so many choices!

Have ever been to the vibrant and ever so colorful Kadikoy district in Istanbul? The market is wonderful with the fresh produce and friendly lokantas around.  This is Fehmi Lokantasi in Kadikoy, with mouthwatering displays of ready to eat stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil and many more.

Delicious displays of casseroles, fresh beans cooked in olive oil and many more at Fehmi Lokantasi.

Trays of precooked – and gently heated – stews, rice, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables and many more – are displayed in a buffet style in traditional lokantas. This is slowly cooked “fast food”; all you need to do is to pick up your tray and point to the Chef, Asci, which dishes you would like to try – they are ever so inviting, I usually end up having small portions of a few to share!-.

Good news is, you can recreate many of these stews and casseroles at home too. I  love this bean stew with chicken and vegetables, as it is so easy, delicious and nutritious. If you are using dried beans, you need to soak them overnight. But if you don’t have time for this, please have a go and use the precooked haricot beans instead. They still work great and you will be preparing a wholesome, delicious meal in no time.

Turkish Bean stew with spicy sausages, sucuklu kuru fasulye

This bean stew is also wonderful when cooked with Turkish spicy sausage, sucuk. You can use any spicy sausage you like or for a vegetarian option, simply omit the meat.

Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken, Onion, Peppers in Tomato Sauce – Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes                           Cooking time: 35 minutes (add 30 minutes cooking time if dried beans are used)

2 cups / 340 gr Cannellini dried white beans or

14oz/1 can of pre-cooked cannellini (or haricot) beans, rinsed

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 green (pointy) or bell pepper, finely chopped

Handful of parsley, coarsely chopped

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil

8oz / 225 gr chicken breast (or your choice of meat), cut in small chunks

14oz/ 400 gr can of chopped tomatoes

300ml/ 1 ¼ cups water

1/2 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Precooked dried beans are perfectly fine to use in the stew; and you will still be making a wholesome meal.

If you are using dried beans, soak them in plenty of water overnight. Next day, drain the water and boil the dried beans in fresh water for about 30 minutes, partially covered, until they are tender but not mushy. Drain the water and set the cooked beans aside.

If you are using precooked white beans, simply drain the juice and rinse the beans under cold water. Set them aside.

In a heavy pan, sauté the onion with the olive oil until soft. Add the meat and sauté for another minute or so. Stir in the green peppers, chopped tomatoes and the red pepper paste (if using) and mix well. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Then stir in the cooked beans and the water, mixing gently so that the beans won’t break. Season with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook in medium heat for. about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and combine well.

Delicious Kuru Fasulye; wonderful with plain rice by the side.

Serve hot with plain rice by the side. You can cook this stew ahead of time, even a day in advance. It freezes very well too. Traditionally; some locals also like to have a quarter of sliced raw onion by the side. A few pickles – tursu, as we say in Turkish- as well as Cacik dip –of yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint– complements this bean stew well.

Cacik dip of plain yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint complements the bean stew well.

Have you ever tried Esnaf Lokantasi – open buffet style traditional Turkish restaurants – in Turkey? What is your favorite slowly cooked “fast food” there? If you haven’t tried this yet, I hope you have a go; healthy, nutritious and so delicious treats will be waiting for you – and please enjoy the sites along the journey 🙂

Kiz Kulesi, Maiden Tower, Istanbul. Try traveling by ferries – vapur – in Istanbul to enjoy wonderful sites like this.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Olympics – London 2012; Indeed “inspires a generation” and Men’s Cycling Road Race by our street!

Have you watched the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony? What a glorious, breathtaking, welcoming event it was.  It always fascinates me how this wonderful event bring people, nations all over the world together, celebrates diversity,  inspires fair game, hope and friendship. If you haven’t had a chance to watch, please tune in BBC’s iplayer Olympic Ceremonies – London 2012 Online – you won’t be disappointed!  One of my favorite parts has been the Queen’s appearance with James Bond, where two of them made their way by helicopter to the Olympic Stadium – please check out Queen and Bond unite for London 2012 Olympics video ; unforgettable, we will be watching again and again.

Weybridge, Surrey dresssed up for the Men’s Cycle Race

Here in Surrey, England, we have been very lucky to watch and cheer for the Men’s Road Race Cyclists, passing through our door step. We lined up with thousands of other folks cheering for the racers, an incredible, unforgettable atmosphere; here are some photos from our street in Weybridge during the race:

One of the many bicycles decorated for the race!

Cheers for Team GB's Mark Cavendish!

We are all lined up waiting for the racers!

 

And here they are!

 

... and gone in a flash!

And here are the wonderful game makers of volunteers, who helped the games happen, posing with a happy relief after the race

I know many folks are getting together to watch the games and share a delicious bite. Here are some ideas for you to spice up your London 2012 get -togethers;

Zucchini fritters with feta and dill; delicious, a real crowd pleaser; you can prepare ahead of time and enjoy with friends and family.

Zucchini fritters with feta and dill; wonderful with garlic yoghurt by the side

Puff pastry pockets with cheese, potato and parsley; you can serve these delicious treats as a starter or you can enjoy them for lunch with salad or with afternoon tea.

Puff pastry with cheese and potato, delicious treats

Like sports and music, love of food brings people together and celebrates diversity. I feel very lucky to get to know many wonderful bloggers all around the world. Here I wanted to share and celebrate  some wonderful recipes showcasing the cuisines of some of my favorite bloggers – these may be a wonderful addition to your Olympic Games party spread too :

Peri’s Spice Ladle’s grilled south-indian-style lamb chops with yellow daal – what a wonderful way to spice up the BBQ!

Cuisine de Provence’s Tian of sun kissed vegetables would be perfect aside to some BBQ’d lambchops 🙂

How about Kalofagas’ delicious mouthfulls of ouzo-cured salmon? Very tempting, and so refreshing with slices of cucumbers!

I love My Italian Kitchen’s Mediterranean inspired salads, and this summer salad would go so well with the Games!

Last but not least, Phil’s delicious and seriously addictive Cake-meringue pie would be a wonderful finish for an Olympic feast!

London 2012's wonderful slogan; "inspire a generation"

One of the slogans of London 2012 has been “Inspire a generation”; I loved the fact that during the Opening Ceremony, the cauldron consisting of 204 petals (one for each competing nation or territory) were lit by seven young athletes chosen by British Olympic champions. What a lovely way to inspire and empower the future generation. London 2012 has had a very promising start and I am sure it will be an inspiration for a generation to come.

 London is buzzing with excitement again. Hope you enjoy London 2012!

Ozlem

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Okra with chicken, vegetables and chickpeas in lemon & mint sauce & Tavuklu, nohutlu bamya

Bountiful Fruit and Vegetable Market in Istanbul

Turkish cuisine is based on using fresh ingredients; fruit and vegetables are bought daily and seasonality is the key. However, especially in Southern Turkey, we also like to dry vegetables like eggplant (aubergine), bell and pointy peppers and okra when they are fresh, to be used when they’re not in season. In villages, these vegetables are simply attached in a piece of string when fresh (we scoop out the middle part/flesh of aubergines and peppers first; they are wonderful when stuffed with aromatic rice and/or ground meat), and hang outside village homes or terraces, to dry at the summer sunshine. With all the moisture gone, the result is intensely flavored dried vegetables ready to use.

Whenever I go to the Spice Market in Istanbul, I always get dried okra, aubergine and peppers. They not only taste great, but they also make wonderful decoration and a great talking point at my cooking classes.

Dried vegetables and spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Recently, my good friend and brilliant blogger Peri posted a wonderful Okra and Potato Stir fry recipe, at her blog Peri’s Spice Ladle, flavoring the okra with fragrant Indian spices, and inspired me to use my dried okra. It is amazing to see the similarities between Turkish and Indian cuisine, especially the love of spices; Peri’s lovely recipes are worth checking out.

Dried eggplants, okra and peppers used a lot in southern Turkish cooking; see how tiny the baby okra is!

Dried eggplants, okra and peppers used a lot in southern Turkish cooking; see how tiny the baby okra is!

So here comes Southern Turkish style okra with chicken. In Southern Turkish cooking, we like to keep the okra as whole, give a little trim to the stalk. We use lemon juice to reduce the sliminess and flavor the okra with dried mint and red pepper flakes; I love the refreshing, tangy taste of the dish and the texture that comes with the chickpeas. For a vegetarian option, you can skip chicken; potatoes would really work well with this dish too.

 Serves 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes               Cooking time: 35 minutes

225gr/ 1/2lb fresh okra or dried okra

250gr/9oz chicken breast, cut in bite size chunks

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes

400gr/14oz can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

8fl oz/1 cup hot water

10ml/2 tsp dried mint

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Plain rice to serve

Wedge of lemon to serve

To prepare the okra:

If you are using dried okra, simmer them in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just soft enough to slip through the string. Drain the water and take out the string, set aside.

Simmer dried okra for a few minutes in boiling water

If you are using fresh okra, trim the stalks, then place the okra in a bowl. You can  treat them with the juice of lemon to retain color and reduce sliminess. As an alternative, you can also or sprinkle with 2-3 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar over okra and leave it to stand for about 1 hr, as  Ghille Basan, the prominent Turkish cookery author recommends.

Saute onion, garlic, chicken, add the chopped tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to turn golden brown. Add the garlic and chicken pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes to brown them. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and ground black pepper. Mix to combine thoroughly.

Add lemon juice and hot water over the okra

Sprinkle the okra over the chicken and pour the lemon juice and hot water on top. Stir, cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, until the okra are tender but not soggy. Add the (rinsed) cooked chickpeas, combine well and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the dried mint and red pepper flakes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

 Bamya, etli ve nohutlu 038

Okra with chicken, chickpeas and vegetables; dried mint and red pepper flakes add a wonderful flavor

Serve hot with plain rice and extra wedge of lemon by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

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