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Our Turkish Cookery Course in Amman, Jordan; A Very Special Trip

Making Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with participants in Amman, Jordan

Making Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with participants in Amman, Jordan

Merhaba All,

I have just returned from Amman, Jordan, where we had our 3 day Turkish cookery course; it was a very special trip from the start to beginning and I wanted share some highlights here with you.

JA University students helping out at our Turkish cookery course.

JA University students helping out at our Turkish cookery course.

Preparing for our Turkish cookery course in Jordan, love the fresh produce

Preparing for our Turkish cookery course in Jordan, love the fresh produce

My huge thanks first of all to dear Mrs Suhair Kilani and Panthera Jordan for organising our Turkish Cookery Course in Amman; Mrs Kilani has done so much for spreading the word on Turkish cuisine and make our course happen 2nd time in Jordan, my heartfelt thanks to her. It was very special to return to JA University to teach and I love being with the students there. They have been very enthusiastic and hard working; always a very happy feeling being inspired by them and be able to inspire. I was very touched by all the kindness and generous hospitality of our Jordanian friends , it really has been a very special trip.

Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association Opening

Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association Opening

With dear Suhair Kilani and Manar Bilbesi at the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association

With dear Suhair Kilani and Manar Bilbeisi at the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association

I had the honor to be the guest speaker at the opening of the new premises of the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association. It was an honor to be able to meet Turkish food lovers and have a chance to talk about Turkish cuisine. I have been so touched by dear Jordanians’ love and interest for Turkish cuisine and Turkey.

Potato and bulgur patties at our course in Jordan, it was a huge hit!

Potato and bulgur patties at our course in Jordan, it was a huge hit!

Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with spinach and cheese, another very popular dish from our Turkich cookery course

Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with spinach and cheese, another very popular dish from our Turkish cookery course

Zeytinyagli Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice from our class, big hit

Zeytinyagli Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice from our class, big hit

We had over 14 classic Turkish recipes we made during our Turkish cookery course. It was wonderful to see the keen interest from the participants and their enjoyment; some of the highlights have been Potato and bulgur rolls with pomegranate molasses, stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice,  Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with cheese and spinach and many more.

Islim Kebabi, eggplant slices wrapped around marinated chicken

Islim Kebabi, eggplant slices wrapped around marinated chicken

Making Sekerpare with the participants

Making Sekerpare with the participants

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Cezerye, caramalised carrot paste with walnuts from our class, delicious and healthy

We also made other classics such as Iskender Kebab, Stuffed peppers and tomatoes, Dolma, this delightful, gluten-free Islim Kebabi, marinated chicken wrapped around eggplant slices,  Manti, Turkish dumplings and many more. Desserts we made included Sekerpare, Semolina cookies in syrup, Cezerye, caramalised carrot paste with walnuts, Semolina Halva and the very special Tavuk Gogsu; Ottoman milk pudding with finely shredded chicken. I will share the recipe of this unusual but delicious dessert in a separate post.

Our visit to the Turkish Embassy in Amman

Our visit to the Turkish Embassy in Amman

Our Turkish cookery course in Amman has been very generously supported by the Turkish Embassy in Amman; it was a great honor to be able to visit our Turkish Ambassador, Mr Onal, to give our thanks for their support. Also very humbled by his kind words for our contribution to Turkish cuisine, we hope to organise many more of these courses in the near future.

A delightful pomegranate tree at TIKA office in Amman

A delightful pomegranate tree at the TIKA office in Amman

Turkish tea, cay, very kindly offered at the TIKA office

Turkish tea, cay, very kindly offered at the TIKA office

More kindness and hospitality followed, we felt home at the wonderful TIKA office in Amman and seeing their garden, I was transported to my grandmother’s 450 year old stone home in  old Antakya. She used to have pomegranate, fig and walnut trees in her garden and we would wake up with the doves singing, seeing these beautiful trees and hearing the doves were a very magical reminiscence.

TV interview during our Turkish cookery course in Amman.

TV interview during our Turkish cookery course in Amman.

Giving certificates to the participants of our Turkish cookery course

Giving certificates to the participants of our Turkish cookery course

Last day of our Turkish cookery course was filmed and I was interviewed on Turkish cuisine and its perception in Amman, to be aired on national TV. We also made it to Jordanian Times apparently! So good to see all this interest for Turkish cuisine. Another highlight was giving certificates to the participants of our 3 day Turkish cookery course, they have been all so enthusiastic and wonderful.

Turkish coffee, enjoyed by everyone at our Turkish cookery course.

Turkish coffee, enjoyed by everyone at our Turkish cookery course.

We made everyone Turkish coffee at the end; many thanks to Ozerlat Coffee for providing our Turkish coffee, everyone greatly enjoyed the aromatic taste and the traditions, rituals behind this special drink, it really is more than a drink for us.

Our Turkish Cookery Course in Jordan has been a very special trip from start to the end, my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their warm hospitality, can’t wait to come back again!

Brief but very Special Stop in Istanbul

Hello from Istanbul; a very precious stop at the Bosphorus

Hello from Istanbul; a very precious stop at the Bosphorus

Icing on the cake of this trip has been a brief but very special stop in Istanbul afterwards; the city I adore. As soon as I landed, I was by the Bosphorus in Bebek, a very special, memorable moment!

Dear Claudia Turgut's photo exhibition at PositivIST, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

Dear Claudia Turgut’s photo exhibition at PositivIST, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

Mum, my lovely sister Oznur and me together, a very precious moment

Mum, my lovely sister Oznur and me together, a very precious moment

Dear friend and ex-fellow blogger, owner of the wonderful A Seasonal Cook in Turkey blog Claudia Turgut has now a wonderful new passion, photography. She and some other photographers opened this lovely photo exhibition called PositivIST, sharing Istanbul they love through their photographs. Thanks to my lovely sister, we managed to make it to the Exhibition and met lovely Claudia. The exhibition continues until October 13th, located in Arnavutkoy Istanbul and highly recommended; gorgeous photos of Istanbul from these wonderful artists.

Fascinating Bosphorus and Istanbul

Fascinating Bosphorus and Istanbul

Glass of Cay by the Bosphorus, heavenly

Glass of Cay by the Bosphorus, heavenly

 Time to say farewell to this fascinating city, Istanbul, until next time; it was a huge dose of home, seeing loved ones being at home, treasured every minute.

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Ezme; Spread of Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers with Red Pepper Paste

Scrumptious spread of Ezme; makes a great appetizer and goes really well with grilled meat and vegetables.

Have you ever tried the delicious Turkish mezze, Ezme? This tomato based delicious appetizer has a wonderful mixture of sweet, spicy and acidic flavors and it is one of my favorite mezzes served in the kebab houses at home, a very memorable gastronomic experience.

Humble and fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, peppers transform to a magical taste with a touch of red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil.

Ezme is a very typical Turkish mezze, served in kebab houses throughout Turkey. With a touch of hot red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil, these simple but fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, herbs and good olive oil produce this surprisingly complex yet refreshing and a very more-ish mezze. You can make Ezme ahead of time, so it is very entertaining friendly too.

Biber Salcasi; Turkish hot red pepper paste add a lot of flavour to dishes; you can also easily make at home too.

 

There are quite a few variations for Ezme; my favorite is the way it is done in the Southeast Turkey, where my roots are from.  Biber Salcasi,  Turkish red pepper paste is a major staple in the regions of Gaziantep  and Antakya and a little of this wonderful paste adds such a rich, complex flavor to the Ezme. You can also make red pepper paste at home with my recipe, easy and delicious. An important trick to Ezme is to rub the red pepper paste and tomato paste to the onions with your hands so that the paste infuses; these also soften the onions and make them more palatable.

 

You can serve Ezme over crackers or pita bread as an appetizer; it can also accompany kebabs, grilled meats and roasted vegetables beautifully too. Why not try Ayran, delicious Turkish traditional yoghurt drink to accompany this wonderful feast?

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

Turkish cuisine has a long and rich tradition of incorporating hot and cold mezes, regional, delicious dips and salads, variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free courses. They have all been included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table; Signed copies are still 20 % off and delivered worldwide including USA, it is available at this link.

 

Serves 4                                   Preparation time: 15 – 20 minutes

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, halved and seeds removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 small spicy pointy green peppers –(use less or more depending on how spicy you like)
15ml/1 tbsp red pepper paste (or a little less if you prefer less spicy) – If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
15ml/1 tbsp tomato paste
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
30ml/ 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the red pepper paste and tomato paste with the onions in a bowl. Knead and mix them well with your hands so that the paste infuses to the onions; this also softens the onions and make them more palatable.  If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes and infuse them to the  onions with the tomato paste.

Ezme is ready to be enjoyed; though not traditional, I like to add a few walnuts over Ezme when serving, for extra texture and taste.

Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and mint, combine well. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over. Season with salt and ground pepper and give them all a good mix. Cover and keep in the fridge until serving. It would be best if you can let the Ezme sit for an hour or so before serving; this will help the flavors mingle & settle.

You can prepare Ezme ahead of time; it tastes even better the next day!

Ezme is delicious over flat bread, crackers, pitta bread. I like to add a few walnuts over when serving, love the added texture and taste it adds.

Though not traditional, I like to sprinkle a few walnuts around Ezme when serving; I love the added texture and taste walnuts brings to Ezme.

I hope you enjoy making your own Ezme, and that it brings happy memories of your visit to Turkey or inspires for a visit! : )

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Turkish Bean Stew with Chicken; Tavuklu Kuru Fasulye and more

Pulse, beans and legumes  are very popular at home as wholesome meals and  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.

 

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book, available to order at this link

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. It is 10 % off until June 16th 2019, as a little gift from us for Father’s Day; please enter the promo code: fathers-day at the check out, thank you.

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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