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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Let's celebrate healthy living with delicious Turkish food and great tips for healthy living!

Seasonal, colorful fruit and vegetables; a very important part of the Turkish Cuisine

Turkish cuisine is healthy, delicious and most Turkish recipes are so easy to prepare. We use seasonal produce, and spice up, flavor our dishes using spices, olive oil, nuts and other natural ingredients.

Aromatic, fragrant spices are at the heart of Turkish cuisine to flavor our dishes

I am delighted to inform you that we have a fabulous Healthy Living and Eating Event coming up on Nov 24th Saturday, from 11am to 1.30pm. It gives me a great pleasure to partner up with Leonie Wright from Eat Wright and Eser Kilcioglu from the Pretty Little Bakery. We would like to show you that you can create easy, delicious meals – wonderful for the upcoming festive season too- that are also healthy and good for you. In addition to my Turkish cookery demonstration and Eser’s demonstration of wonderful gluten-free treats, you will be enjoying a very valuable, informative talk on Healthy Eating Tips by Leonie from Eat Wright.  Needless to say, there will be abundance of delicious food and friendly, feel good atmosphere, all through the event! If you are in the area and would like to join us, please check the details of this wonderful event at Cooking Classes or Contact me.
One of the dishes I will be demonstrating at this wonderful event is the Carcassian chicken in walnuts, whole grain bread and garlic infused olive oil sauce; A very delicious and healthy way to enjoy chicken, you can’t believe there is no cream or mayonnaise in the sauce, yet still very tasty!

Circassian Chicken, Cerkez Tavugu is a delicious and healthy garlicky, red pepper flakes and olive oil infused sauce - simply irresistable

The story of the Circassian Chicken says; during the Ottoman reign, the Sultans took a particular liking to women of Circassian origin and many were captured to serve in the harems as concubines and wives. These fair beauties delighted the Sultans and with them came this dish. Originally the dish was made with fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, used liberally in Circassian cuisine. However the Palace chefs decided to create their own tamer version. This is a great option for a light lunch, served with a green salad and toasted bread or steamed vegetables. The left overs of wonderful dish also makes a great sandwich filler!

You can also spice up your left over chicken roast with the Circassian chicken’s walnut & olive oil sauce. No cream, no mayonnaise; but just a tasty, healthy dressing of garlic, few slices of wholegrain bread, olive oil and red pepper flakes, you can create a delicious chicken dish. How about serving this dish with the refreshing Shepherd’s Salad, Coban Salata? 

I hope these delicious and healthy dishes inspire you; as always, I would greatly appreciate if you can let me know how your experience turned out.

Best wishes for a healthy, enjoyable eating & living for us all,

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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Warm Hummus with Red Pepper Flakes infused Olive oil

The humble but ever so tasty hummus is delicious, healthy and so easy to make. I wonder if you have ever tried hummus warm? In Turkey, especially in the South, hummus is served warm with red pepper flakes infused olive oil or with some sautéed pastirma (similar to pastrami; dried cured beef coated with spices) over the top. I’d very much encourage you to try hummus this way, as I feel you may be pleasantly surprised, and maybe converted to eat hummus warm as many of my friends have done.

Please adjust the hummus recipe according to your taste, as some like it garlicky, some with more tahini and others may prefer it more lemony. You can get tahini, the crushed sesame seeds in paste, in most supermarkets these days and Middle Eastern stores.  This warm hummus would make a wonderful appetizer to share with friends and family. It also complements any grilled meat or vegetable beautifully.

Pita bread is the perfect accompaniment.

Warm hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive oil; a delicious mezze

Warm hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive oil; a delicious mezze

Serves 4

Preparation time – 15 minutes (add 1 hour if used dried chickpeas and soaking overnight)

225gr/8oz dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight or for at least 6 hours or equivalent amount of precooked chickpeas in can

5ml /1 teaspoon salt – please adjust according to your taste-

60ml/4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

30ml/2 tablespoons water

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed – optional-

Juice of 1 lemon

1-2 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)

5ml/1 teaspoon (or a little more!) ground cumin

To serve:

30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Slices of pita bread to serve

 

If using dried chickpeas, drain the chickpeas and transfer them to a pan with plenty of cold water. Bring to boil and boil for a few minutes. Then lower the heat and partially cover the pan, Simmer the chickpeas for 1 hour, until they are soft and easy to mash.

Chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, e.v. olive oil, salt and cumin; all to blitz together

If precooked chickpeas are used, drain the juice and give them a little wash in a colander. Put the precooked (or cooked) chickpeas in a food processor and blitz them together with the extra virgin olive oil, water, lemon juice, garlic and tahini. If it appears thick and difficult to blend, add a little more olive oil or water. Season with salt and mix in the cumin. Process until you achieve a soft, smooth paste. Refrigerate until required.

 If you would like to have the hummus warm as in the Turkish way, just before serving, warm this mixture in a pan for a couple of minutes. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil gently and stir in the red pepper flakes. Combine for a minute or two and let the red pepper flakes infuse to the olive oil. Put the warm hummus in a plate and drizzle the red pepper flakes infused olive oil over the top. You may sprinkle some extra ground cumin over the top, if you like. Serve with pita bread.

Delicious and healthy Turkish mezes, dips, salads, vegetables cooked in olive oil, savoury pastries and over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table; signed copies can be ordered at this link and delivered worldwide, promptly.

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

 

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