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Sizzling Chicken Kebab and Roasted Vegetables on pide (pitta) bread

Have you ever had the wonderful sizzling kebabs in Turkey? There is a kebab house at every corner at home, and the smells, sights are always very inviting. Family and friends gather around Ocakbasi, to witness and enjoy Asci (Chef) preparing and grilling succulent meats, vegetables, making pide (pitta) bread for hours; a ritual I love and miss very much. So I thought to recreate this wonderful dish at home- and you would be pleased to know that it is very easy to tackle. You can prepare most of the stages ahead of time, which makes the dish a great choice for entertaining. The kebab looks impressive, tastes wonderful and you can ensemble the final dish the day of your party – so the host gets to enjoy the company too! You can replace chicken with any other meat of your choice, or for a vegetarian option, mushrooms, eggplants, courgettes all work very well.

Chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt, spices and olive oil; delicious with roasted vegetables on flat bread, pide, or pita bread

Chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt, spices and olive oil; delicious with roasted vegetables on flat bread, pide, or pita bread

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 40 minutes Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

2 eggplants (aubergine)
6-8 small bell peppers (green, orange, yellow or red) or 3 big ones, cut in chunks
3-4 tablespoons olive oil for roasting the vegetables
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes – optional-
2 large naan breads or 4 small pitta breads cut into chunky stripes
225gr/8oz natural plain yoghurt
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

For the tomato sauce:
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
30ml/2tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For marinating the chicken:
385gr/13 1/2oz chicken breast, cut in small chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
30ml/2 tablespoon natural plain yoghurt
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste and 10ml/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
OR
15ml / 1 tablespoon red pepper paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F

First marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the marination ingredients listed above and mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge at least for 30 minutes. This marination adds a wonderful flavor to the chicken and make the chicken breast tenderer. You can also prepare this marination a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered.

For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook until they begin to color. Stir in the chopped tomotoes, mix well. Cook uncovered on medium to low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. You can prepare the tomato sauce a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered.

On the day of your party, you can do the rest of the cooking. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants lengthways, about ½ inch thick. Then cut each slice into three parts. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the marinated chicken breast. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will give a nice brown coloring to the meat and seal the juices to keep them moist. Season with salt and black pepper and turn the heat off.

On a baking tray, spread the eggplant slices and the colorful peppers. Drizzle the olive oil over them and season with salt and black pepper (you can also sprinkle red pepper flakes over them for extra heat). Coat all the pieces with olive oil and seasoning and roast in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until they are chargrilled around the edges.

At the same time of the vegetables roasting, place the chicken pieces and the marination sauce around them on a wide baking dish and roast for about 35 minutes, until they are chargrilled.

Just before serving, place the pitta or naan bread on a baking tray and warm them up for about 5-8 minutes. Take a wide serving dish and warm in the oven for a few minutes.

Now it is time to ensemble the kebab. Place the stripes of the warm pitta (or naan) bread on your serving dish as a flat base. Spoon the tomato sauce over the bread and spread. Arrange the chicken kebabs and the roasted vegetables over the tomato sauce. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve hot, with dollops of the remaining sauce and yoghurt by the side.

Sizzling chicken kebabs with roasted vegetables; delicious with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Sizzling chicken kebabs with roasted vegetables; delicious with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem


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Turkish meatballs wrapped in eggplant (aubergine) slices – Patlican Dilimli Uskup Kofte

Turkish meatballs wrapped in eggplant slices.

Turkish meatballs wrapped in eggplant slices – Patlican Dilimli Uskup Kofte



How wonderful it is to be able to post recipes again; my laptop was broken and I couldn’t post for quite a while, sincere apologies for that. So lovely to share food and recipes again!

This is a very special dish that I make when I have a little extra time; it is very delicious and looks lovely, so it’s worth every effort. You can bake ahead of time and the leftovers can be frozen successfully. The succulent slices of eggplant around the meatballs are just heavenly. Served with plain rice and cucumber&yoghurt; dip, it makes a very special dinner to share.

Patlican, (eggplant or aubergine) is our national vegetable – it is actually fruit, as it has seeds- and one can argue we Turks have over 200 recipes featuring the beloved eggplant! They have high water content (and very low in fat), so the trick is to generously salt the eggplant slices and drain all the bitter juices before cooking, otherwise the eggplant gets soggy.

I hope you give this special dish a try sometime and could share with family and friends.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 50 minutes Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

For the meatballs:
450gr/1lb lean ground beef, lamb or mixture
1 medium onion, grated
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 medium eggs
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5ml/1teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

3-4 medium eggplants
1 medium potato, skinned and sliced
Green or red pointy (or bell) peppers, coarsely sliced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
5m/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes (or chili flakes)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
8fl oz/1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F

Sunflower or canola oil for shallow frying of eggplants

In order to make the meatballs, combine all the items in a large bowl and knead with your hands until all combined well. Grease a baking tray with a little olive oil (or sunflower oil). Take a walnut size of the meatball mixture and roll like an oval shape, carry on with making the meatballs until all the mixture is finished, and place them on the greased tray. Bake the meatballs for about 15-20 minutes, until they are partially cooked and firm enough to be wrapped with the eggplant slices.


Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants lengthways, about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel. Then shallow fry them in the canola oil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

On a board, put an eggplant slice and place one meatball the middle and roll like a cigar. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant slices. Place the eggplant&meatball; roll seamide down, in a baking tray.

Place the sliced potatoes, onions and peppers amongst the eggplant rolls in the tray. Add the canned tomatoes and water, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the red pepper flakes. Bake the dish in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Please check towards the end if more water is needed and add some to the baking tray.

Serve the eggplant &meatball; rolls and the vegetables hot with plain rice by the side. Cucumber, garlic and yoghurt (Cacik, under Mezes and Appetizers in this blog) meze also would complement this delicious dish well.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Sautéed Mushrooms, Peas and Tomatoes – Mantarli, Bezelyeli Bulgur Pilavi

We consume a good amount of bulgur wheat in Turkish cuisine – in the form of salads, soups and pilaf rice – and I am always on the look out for spicing up bulgur. Packed with fiber and vitamins and low on fat, bulgur is a very healthy option and can be very delicious too. This time I experimented bulgur with sautéed mushrooms; the meaty, juicy flavor of mushrooms worked really well with bulgur. If you can add a few more vegetables into the mix and grate some parmesan (or any hard cheese you prefer) over, this dish could be a wonderfully satisfying, easy and delicious supper. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Bulgur wheat pilaf with sauteed mushrooms and vegetables; wholesome and delicious.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with sauteed mushrooms and vegetables; wholesome and delicious.

Serves 4- 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

4 garlic gloves, crushed and finely chopped
3 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
45gr/1/2 cup frozen peas
350 gr/12 oz bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
600gr/1 pint/2 1/2 cups hot water
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil – and an extra drizzle for the bulgur

A squeeze of lemon

5ml/1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Grated parmesan (or any hard cheese you prefer) to serve

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy pan. Stir in garlic and chopped mushrooms, and season with salt generously (mushrooms and garlic go very well and the salt helps the water to come out of mushrooms). Sauté for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms soften and start to loosen up. Add the dried oregano and a squeeze of lemon and mix well. Turn the heat off, leaving it a side.


On a separate pot, drizzle a little olive oil and add the bulgur and chopped tomatoes, tossing thoroughly over low heat. Add the hot water, season with salt and ground pepper. Stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. At this time stir in the frozen peas to bulgur mixture and stir to combine. Then cover and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the sautéed mushrooms into the mixture and combine well. Cover the pan with a paper towel and press the lid on top. Leave to steam for a further 10 minutes.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with mushrooms and vegetables - ready for your enjoyment

Bulgur wheat pilaf with mushrooms and vegetables – ready for your enjoyment

Serve the bulgur pilaf with some grated parmesan over the top. You can serve some steamed vegetables by the side if you would like too.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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