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Tag Archives | Hunkar Begendi

Sigara Boregi – Crispy Cheese and Herb filled Filo Pastry Rolls

Asli Borek, Besiktas; here is the cheese & parsley rolls on display

Asli Borek, Besiktas; here is the cheese & parsley rolls on display

If you have read my previous post on Istanbul, you may already know how much we Turks love a good borek, savory pastries, made with paper thin pastry called Yufka. Boreks are widely available in pastry shops and bakeries, they are also sold on stalls and a hugely favorite street food; delicious and great value too.

It is thought that the Ottoman Palace kitchens devised these tasty treats in order to tempt the precious little princes. These cigar shaped rolls with cheese and parsley is very popular at home. Traditionally the rolls are deep fried in a deep-sided pan, I love this way too as it taste great and crispy. We recently had a go at these rolls in my recent Turkish cookery class and this time we baked them in the oven; the result was still very delicious with a bonus of them being healthier. The rolls disappear very quickly, very popular with children as well as adults. Worth giving a go!

Sigara Boregi; cheese and herb filled pastry rolls

Sigara Boregi; cheese and herb filled pastry rolls

These rolls, as with most savory pastries, are made with paper thin sheets of dough called Yufka in Turkey. As it is difficult to find yufka abroad, I made them with filo pastry sheets and it worked really well. You can prepare the rolls in advance and keep under a damp tea towel in the refrigerator. As with most savory Turkish filled pastries, this borek freeze very well once cooked too.

Serves 4 – 6

Preparation time: 20 minutes              Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

260 gr / 9 oz phyllo (filo) pastry sheets, thawed, or fresh yufka sheets, if you can get

225gr/ 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled

60gr/2 oz shredded mozzarella

2 eggs (one for the filling, one for brushing the boreks)

1 bunch / 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

15 ml / 1 tablespoon olive oil

15 ml / 1 tablespoon whole milk

Bowl of water to seal the rolls

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4

Cheese and parsley mixture for the Sigara boregi rolls.

Cheese and parsley mixture for the Sigara boregi rolls.

Mash together the cheese (feta and mozzarella), 1 egg, parsley and the milk to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper.  However, if the feta cheese is already salty, you may wish not to add salt.

Place the filo sheets on a flat surface. Keep the pastry covered with a damp cloth as you are working. This will help to avoid it getting too dry or less manageable. Working with one sheet at a time, cut the filo into strips about 10-13cm/4-5in wide. Keep the strips covered with another damp cloth.

Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture.

Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture.

Lay one strip of filo and place a tablespoon of the filling along one of the short ends (take care not to overfill as the filling may ooze out while cooking). Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture and then roll up like a cigar.

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Wet the end of the pastry with water to seal.

Wet the end of the pastry roll with water to seal.

Wet the end of each pastry roll with water to seal. Continue, keeping the finished ones covered with a damp cloth as you work. It would be ideal to cook straight ahead, but you can cover with a cling film and refrigerate for an hour or so if you need to.

Brush the pastries with olive oil and egg mixture .

Brush the pastries with olive oil and egg mixture .

Mix the olive oil and the other egg in a bowl. Grease the tray with a little olive oil. Brush the pastries with olive oil and egg mixture and bake until they are golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Crispy, delicious Sigara boregi, ready to be enjoyed!

Crispy, delicious Sigara boregi, ready to be enjoyed!

You can serve these delicious rolls, Sigara Boregi, hot as part of a meze spread. We also like to eat them as morning or afternoon snacks and they also go down very well for lunch next to this Coban Salata – Shepherd’s Salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and parsley with olive oil and lemon dressing.

Cheese and parsley filled cigar rolls, Sigara Boregi.

Cheese and parsley filled cigar rolls, Sigara Boregi.

Afiyet Olsun, I hope you can have a go at this easy and delicious treats and enjoy,

Ozlem

A Delightful & Delicious Turkish Restaurant  – Karakoy Lokantasi, Istanbul

Karakor Lokantasi, Istanbul - a charming restaurant with delicious mezzes.

Karakoy Lokantasi, Istanbul – a charming restaurant with delicious mezzes.

Karakoy district of Istanbul is buzzing with exciting eateries; there is the Gulluoglu Baklava, one of the best in town; then the Namli Deli & Kebabs next door – a feast to all senses with the wonderful kebabs, mezzes, vegetables cooked in olive oil and more. While in Istanbul, friends this time took me to the Karakoy Lokantasi, placed along the same line with all these wonderful eateries; this buzzing, charming restaurant was a great treat and did not dissapoint us.

Jars of pickled vegetables displayed at Karakoy Lokantasi.

Jars of pickled vegetables displayed at Karakoy Lokantasi.

The restaurant serves delicious, traditional Turkish mezzes and main courses and has been buzzing with locals and foodies constantly getting in and out. Their meyhane – tavern style dinners, I hear is especially popular with more variety of  deliciuos mezzes, so booking recommended.

Eggplants stuffef with onions, pepper and tomato; Imam Bayildi, and many more at Karakoy Lokantasi

Eggplants stuffed with onions, pepper and tomato; Imam Bayildi, and many more at Karakoy Lokantasi

A delicious array of vegetables cooked in olive oil greeted us; Imam Bayildi – eggplants stuffed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, stuffed vine leaves – sarma-, runner beans (french beans also works) cooked in olive oil with onions and tomatoes, all freshly cooked and so delicious.

 

Hunkar Begendi - Sultan's Delight; chunks of delicious meat served over the eggplant puree

Hunkar Begendi – Sultan’s Delight; chunks of delicious meat served over the eggplant puree

I tucked in the delicious Hunkar Begendi – Sultan’s Delight of chunks of delicious meat ragout served over the eggplant puree.  This dish is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. Apparently when Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat and chicken. Here is the recipe if you would like to have a go at Hunkar Begendi.

Fried anchovies, hamsi; so fresh and delicious

Fried anchovies, hamsi; so fresh and delicious

Anchovies, hamsi is a popular fish in Turkey, and they are especially very popular in the Black Sea Region. My friend enjoyed this lightly fried anchovies with a rocket salad, a popular way to serve fish at home.

kaymakli Ayva tatlisi - Quince dessert with Turkish clotted cream

kaymakli Ayva tatlisi – Quince dessert with Turkish clotted cream

 Have you ever tasted Turkish quince dessert, Ayva Tatlisi? It is one of my favorite desserts and we had to have a go at this one at Karakoy Lokantasi, looked so inviting (and tasted amazing). To make this dessert, we pouch the halved quince with its seeds and skin, adding sugar and cinnamon stick  for about 1 1/2 hours. The skin and the seeds of quince give this dessert its glorious color. Topped with Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak, this dessert is an absolute treat.

Ciragan - Spring is in the air in Istanbul.

Ciragan – Spring is in the air in Istanbul.

Happy travels, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

 

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Let’s have a go at Turkish Cuisine; Sultan’s Delight, Zucchini Fritters, Kunefe (Kadayifi); Easier than You Think!

“Thank you for the wonderful Turkish cooking class; I learned so much about the Turkish cuisine, and couldn’t believe how easy it is to cook delicious, healthy food”; this has been one of the comments at my recent Turkish cooking class. It is always a pleasure to see participants’ enjoying the class and realize how easy to make Turkish dishes, using fresh ingredients.

It is a pleasure and lots of fun sharing Turkish cuisine, recipes, traditions at the cookery classes

Well, I have a new Turkish cookery class coming up on Saturday, 20th October, and I wanted to share what we will be up to.  The classes are friendly, informal with step by step demonstration of the recipes, and packed with useful information on where to source ingredients,  substitution ( when needed) and on Turkish cuisine and culture. If you are in the area and would like to join us, please contact me. If not, I hope the recipes may still inspire you to have a go to treat yourself, family and friends; they are delicious and easier than you think! Here is our menu for the class:

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters flavored with Feta and Dill – Mucver. This appetizer is a wonderful way to flavor the zucchini; dill and feta really goes well with the zucchini. An important tip here is to squeeze out any excess water of the grated zucchini with a paper/tea towel. This will prevent the fritters to get soggy.  You can enjoy mucver  warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. It is truly delicious with garlic infused yoghurt by the side.

Zucchini fritters are utterly delicious; garlicky yoghurt would complement them well.

Sultan’s Delight –  Ragout With Pureed Eggplant And Béchamel Sauce – Hunkar Begendi

Hunkar Begendi; delicious ragout on a bed of smoked eggplant puree; for a vegetarian option, you can serve the puree with grilled vegetables.

This Ottoman classic is served with smoky tasting eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce. When Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat or vegetables.

Smoking the eggplants is an important step to make the Hunkar Begendi, Sultan's Delight.

Important tip; if you cook the eggplants on stove top or burner, you get a wonderful smoky flavor for the eggplants. As an alternative, you can also bake the eggplants in the oven – make sure to prick the eggplants before baking.

Hunkar Begendi is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. It is great for entertaining; looks very inviting and the marriage of the eggplant & béchamel sauce with the ragout is divine. For a vegetarian option, why not serving the puree with Fried Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce; Saksuka ? 

Kunefe – Kadayifi

Syrup soaked delicate pastry strands with cheese; kunefe is an ultimate treat.

This dessert is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya (please click here for more delicious recipes and photos from Antakya). I can still remember getting the freshly baked Tel Kadayif (pastry strands) from the local bakery, watching the delicate strands forming from the huge sieve. And I can still visualize my grandmother cooking Kunefe in her stone oven in her garden, and, we, her grandchildren excitedly waiting for any leftovers of the butter soaked pastry strands….glorious days .

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli. In Antakya, there are specialty shops like this, making the fresh pastry strands for kunefe.

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – mozzarella works well too. It can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Kunefe recipe will be in the blog shortly.

We will finish the class with the aromatic Turkish coffee, Turkish way. Always a wonderful experience.

Turkish coffee; delicious way to end a Turkish meal.

Have you ever made any of these dishes? Could I tempt you to have a go?:) I would be more than happy to help you along the way and answer your questions, just let me know. I bet yours will be more delicious than mine:)

My late grandmother's 450 year old stone house in Antakya; the house has been a very happy place to cook and enjoy delicious food, and an inspiration for us to keep the recipes, traditions alive.

Happy Cooking, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

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Sultan's Delight – Lamb ragout with pureed eggplant and béchamel sauce; Hunkar Begendi

 

Hunkar Begendi - Sultan's Delight; chunks of delicious meat served over the eggplant puree

Hunkar Begendi – Sultan’s Delight; chunks of delicious meat ragout served over the eggplant puree




This classic lamb dish is served with smoky tasting eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce. When Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat and chicken.

This dish is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. It is great for entertaining; looks very inviting and the marriage of the eggplant & béchamel sauce with the lamb ragout is divine. You can also make it with beef or chicken too.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour

For the lamb ragout
500 gr/ 1 1/4 lb leg of lamb cut in chunky cubes (or  chunks of chicken or beef, if you prefer)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
30 ml/2 tablespoons butter / olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped (or 400 gr/14 oz can chopped tomatoes)
240 ml/ 8 fl oz/ 1 cup hot water
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon tomato paste
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional, Southern Turkish way)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley for garnish

Cibatta bread slices or plain rice to accompany

For the eggplant puree
6 medium / 2 lbs eggplants
1 squeeze of lemon juice
60 ml /4 tablespoons butter
45 ml/ 3 tablespoons plain white flour
480 ml / 16 fl oz/ 2 cups warm milk
45 gr / 1/2 cup mature hard cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated nutmeg

Sauté the chopped onions gently in the butter or olive oil until soft. Season the meat with the salt and pepper and add to the onions, stirring occasionally until evenly browned. Add the chopped green pepper and garlic, and when these are sizzling, add the chopped tomatoes. Continue cooking until the juice has evaporated. Add the hot water, tomato paste and red pepper paste, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Take care it doesn’t dry out and add a little more water if necessary. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

For the eggplant puree, cook the eggplants on a barbecue grill or over an open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. Alternatively, you can prick and bake the eggplants in a hot oven (200 C/400 F) for about 50 minutes or until they feel very soft when you press them and the skins are wrinkled. When cool enough to handle, peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices and then mash together with the lemon juice using a fork or a potato masher.

Make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter on a low heat. Add the flour and beat well to make a roux. Slowly add the warm milk whisking thoroughly to get a smooth consistency and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the mashed eggplant, a little salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer gently for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, a little freshly grated nutmeg and simmer gently for a further couple of minutes.

Serve hot, the meat sitting on the top of a bed of the eggplant puree and garnish generously with chopped parsley. This dish goes very well with some crusty bread (Cibatta works well) or plain rice aside.

Sultan's Delight; Hunkar Begendi - Lamb ragout over eggplant puree with bechamel sauce

Sultan’s Delight; Hunkar Begendi – Lamb ragout over eggplant puree with bechamel sauce

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Notes:1) If you reheat the puree, you may need to add a little more milk to ensure you achieve the right consistency.

2) You can marinate the cubed lamb with some olive oil, red pepper flakes and seasoning a couple of hours before cooking, this can make the lamb tenderer. Refrigerate until cooking.

3) You can also prepare the smoked eggplant flesh a day in advance. Mash the flesh with lemon juice and a little (about 1 tablespoon) milk. Cover and keep in the fridge.

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