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Tag Archives | Ottoman cuisine

Revani; A deliciously moist, Semolina Cake in Syrup

Revani; deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup; this lighter version is still packed with flavor.

Revani; deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup; this lighter version is still packed with a lot of flavor.

My 9 year old son asked if we may bake anneanne’s (grandma’s) Revani semolina cake the other day and our heart was set. We don’t enjoy overly sweet desserts and this delicious, moist semolina sponge cake in lighter syrup has been a favorite with us. We love semolina’s grainy, nutty texture, the goodness from yoghurt and the refreshing lemony flavor in revani. I also used mild olive oil here and worked really well; lighter but still packed with a lot of flavor.

Revani has been a popular dessert with us Turks since the Ottoman Period; it is believed that the name Revani is given when the Ottomans conquered the city of Yerevan in today’s Armenia. Revani has many versions and been enjoyed in various cuisines especially in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, as well as in Turkey. I have seen the addition of rose water, orange flower water and orange zest  to revani, all sounds delicious.

My daughter's revani in cupcake; turned out wonderful!:)

My daughter’s revani cupcake; turned out wonderful!:)

Make sure to prepare the syrup ahead of time and that it is completely cool before pouring over the semolina cake, otherwise the cake gets soggy. Traditionally it is baked in a baking dish but my 6 year old daughter also wanted to make a few Revani cupcakes and they turned up rather wonderful!:) If you would like to bake revani as cupcakes, make sure to grease each cupcake shell with olive oil and not to overfill. If you are using paper cupcake shells, I suggest you to have 2 paper shells stacked together to provide a firm base, so that the batter won’t spill.

In Turkey, we like to decorate Revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut.  I hope you can give this delicious, moist revani a try, it makes any day special.

My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, is a special tribute to my roots, going back to Antakya. I hoped to showcase delicious, authentic regional recipes, especially from southern Turkey and Antakya, including this fragrant, delicious Revani. More than a cookery book, it has personal stories from my homeland, along with beautiful photography; Signed copies are available to order at this link, if you’d like to copy.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Serves 6 – 8

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes for the cake and 15 minutes for the syrup

165 gr/ 6oz / 1 cup fine grain semolina

200gr/7oz/1 cup (not too full) sugar

45ml/3 tbsp. plain flour

5ml/1 tsp. baking powder

225gr/8oz/1 cup plain (whole milk) yoghurt

3 medium eggs

60ml/ 4 tbsp. olive oil (regular or light)

10ml/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon and Juice of ½ lemon

For the syrup:

300gr/10.5oz/1 ½ cup sugar

375ml/12 fl. oz. / 1 ½ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

Ground pistachio nuts and desiccated coconut to serve

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4

First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan (at a medium heat). Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let the syrup simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the lemon juice, mix well and simmer for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool down while you make the semolina cake.

Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well until you have a smooth batter.

Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well until you have a smooth batter.

Grease a square or rectangular baking dish (mine was 20 cm x 27 cm – about 8”x 10”) with 2 tbsp. olive oil. First beat the eggs and the sugar in a large mixing bowl briskly for a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Then add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, yoghurt, semolina, flour, the baking powder and beat well.  Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. To check; insert a toothpick to the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, that means the cake is cooked. If not, bake for another 3-5 minutes.

Let the cake absorb the syrup and cool down

Let the cake absorb the syrup and cool down

 Using a large spoon, drizzle the cooled syrup all over the semolina cake. Let the cake absorb the syrup and cool down. Once cool, cut the revani in square or diamond shapes; you can serve revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut over the top like we do in Turkey.

Revani; semolina sponge cake in syrup, delicious.

Revani; semolina sponge cake in syrup, delicious.

Revani gets even better the next day and keeps well, covered, for a good few days. In Turkey, we enjoy revani with Turkish coffee  or Cay, Turkish tea by the side.

A very memorable Turkish tea, cay, I recently enjoyed at the Sofra Restaurant, Covent Garden - London

A very memorable Turkish tea, cay, I recently enjoyed at the Sofra Restaurant, Covent Garden – London

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Dunyanin Turk Sefleri, “Turkish Chefs of the World” TV program coming up at TRT Turk – with a little part from Ozlem’s Turkish Table 🙂

Delighted to have a small part at the Turkish Chefs of the World TV program; here with Milliyet food writer Sureyya Uzmez and TRT Producer Ahmet Sabuncu

Delighted to have a small part at the Turkish Chefs of the World, “Dunyanin Turk Sefleri” TV program for TRT Turk; here with Milliyet food writer Sureyya Uzmez and TRT Producer        Ahmet Sabuncu

I was delighted to have a small yet delightful part at the Culinary TV program being shot for the Turkish TRT Turk channel, in London’s Covent Garden last weekend. TRT Turk is the Cultural – News channel of Turkey’s national TV channel, TRT, aired over 70 countries. The name of the program is Dunyanin Turk Sefleri, “Turkish Chefs of the World”, being shot in many European cities like in Vienna, Hamburg, London as well as in Japan, and more series will include shots in New York too. During the program, Milliyet Daily food writer Mr. Sureyya Uzmez aims to explore the world cuisines and the presence of Turkish cuisine within those countries. They kindly included an interview with me too at London’s Covent Garden about Turkish cuisine. We talked about the rise of natural, healthy eating globally how the Turkish cuisine fits the bill well with the emphasis on seasonality, fresh produce and artful use of spices. I also mentioned the growing interest for Turkish cuisine, thanks to you wonderful readers, and your enthusiasm to even tackle Turkish landmarks like Turkish Delight, Lokum, Simit – the sesame encrusted bread rings – , Gozleme; Anatolian stuffed flat breads and more. The program is scheduled to go on air later October – exciting times, stay tuned!:)

 

 

 

 

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Tender chunks of chicken breast wrapped in eggplant (aubergine) slices -Patlıcanlı İslim kebabı





Tender pieces of chicken wrapped in eggplant slices; Islim Kebabi; a special treat.

Tender pieces of chicken wrapped in eggplant slices; Islim Kebabi; a special treat.

This elegant Ottoman dish is a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth experience of soft eggplant slices, tender chicken pieces and a sturdy tomato sauce, featuring Turks’ beloved eggplant (aubergine), patlican. Traditionally chunks of lamb or beef are used, and I made this version with chicken breast. Marinating the chicken as below really makes the meat tenderer and add a lot of flavor.

Wrapping the chicken in strips of lightly fried eggplant may take a little time to prepare but it is absolutely worth it and the result is impressive and very tasty. You can also bake this dish a day in advance and keep in the fridge, which makes it a great entertaining feast. Any leftovers can also be kept in the freezer.

For us Turks, cooking for family and friends have been an important way of showing that we care for them, and I do think, this is one of the nicest ways of showing your affection. The pleasure of having friends and family gathered around the table sharing your food and savoring the moment, is for me one of life’s greatest pleasures. This special dish I am sure would fit the bill perfectly and I do hope it would bring you all a lot of pleasure.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes (+20 minutes for the eggplants)

3 long aubergine/eggplants (dark purple Holland eggplants)
Canola oil for shallow frying
1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
1 green bell pepper, halved and sliced lengthways
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil to saute the chicken breasts

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
10ml/2 teaspoon tomato paste
5-10ml/1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsley chopped
Left over green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
8fl oz/1 cup water
Salt and 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.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) length ways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants length ways, 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.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the marinated chicken breast. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and black pepper and take out the meat to cool off.

On a board or a plate, place one eggplant slice horizontally and the other slice vertically on top of each other and place the meat mixture in the middle. Fold over the slices to wrap the meat mixture and place eggplant package seamside down, in a greased baking tray. Lay a small slice of tomato on top and then the green pepper and fasten the structure with a cocktail stick. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant slices. (If an eggplant slice is not long enough to do the duo wrap, you can place chicken pieces in the middle of one slice and roll like a cigar.)

Place the sliced carrots, onions and left over green peppers amongst the eggplant packages in the tray. Mix the tomato paste with water, season with salt and pepper. Pour this sauce around the eggplant packages and bake them in the oven for about 35 minutes. Please check towards the end if more water is needed and add some to the baking tray.

Serve the eggplant packages and the vegetables hot with plain rice by the side. Cucumber, garlic and yoghurt dip, Cacik, also would complement this delicious dish well.

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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