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Tag Archives | Turkish hot pepper paste

Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk

Chicken and vegetables bake in pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce; Eksili Tavuk

Chicken and vegetables bake in pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce; Eksili Tavuk

Inspiration for this delicious, gluten-free recipe, Eksili Tavuk; Chicken in lemon and pomegranate molasses sauce with vegetables, came from dear Janet, who is part of the wonderful blog, Archers of Okcular. Janet and Alan have been enjoying Eksili Tavuk, traditionally made with the delicious whole chicken from the villages nearby; I can just imagine how tasty that chicken must be. She asked me the recipe and so glad she did. After some research, I came up with my version of Eksili Tavuk, using some seasonal vegetables like celeriac and chard in it. We greatly enjoyed this dish and I owe a big thanks to Janet!

Marinating the chicken in pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, garlic and spices add a lot of flavor.

Marinating the chicken in pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, garlic and spices add a lot of flavor.

Traditional Eksili Tavuk in the Aegean Region is made with cooking a whole chicken in plenty of water and adding vegetables like potato, carrots and onions to it, as well as the lemon sauce. I have seen flour being used in the broth to thicken the sauce; it is a delicious dish. I have used chicken breast in my version and added celeriac and chard to the vegetable mix. I have also added pomegranate molasses in the sauce; celeriac especially has been a perfect pair to the chicken in the tangy lemon and pomegranate sauce; the sweet and savory flavors really complemented one another very well (Pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is widely used especially in southern Turkish cooking and add great flavor to salads, mezzes, stews. You can make your own pomegranate molasses with my recipe here, if you’d like). Marinating the chicken in cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste, biber salcasi (if used), lemon juice and pomegranate molasses really worth the effort, add a delicious flavor to the chicken.

I baked my eksili tavuk; chicken with vegetables in pomegranate and lemon juice sauce, in the oven. It turned out to be an easy, wholesome and delicious all in one pot dish that we loved and will be revisiting often. Many thanks for the inspiration, Janet, hope you all enjoy it!

Eksili Tavuk; baked chicken and vegetables in lemon and pomegranate sauce

Eksili Tavuk; baked chicken and vegetables in lemon and pomegranate sauce

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk
 
An easy, wholesome and delicious all in one pot chicken and vegetables bake with pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce, inspired by the Agean region's Eksili Tavuk. Celeriac especially here really worked well with the sweet & savory pomegranate molasses; a wonderful dish we loved and will be revisiting often. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy & gluten-free chicken and vegetable casserole
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500 gr / 1 ¼ lb. chicken breast or boneless thighs, skinned
  • 175 gr/ 6 oz. chard, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 small carrots, quartered and sliced in small chunks
  • 1 small celeriac root, cut in small, chunky strips (about 4 cm log, 1 cm wide)
  • 2 onions, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
  • ½ tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 30 ml/ 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Cut the chicken into small chunks and place in a large bowl.
  3. Marinate the chicken in cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if used), lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well so that all the ingredients coat the chicken pieces. Cover and keep in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables. Cut the outer skin of celeriac root and slice in chunky strips. Rub the celeriac with 1 tbsp. lemon juice to avoid discoloring.
  5. Combine the celeriac with the other vegetables chopped, except chard, in a baking dish. Add the 2 tbsp. olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and mix well.
  6. Stir in the marinated chicken to the vegetables mixture and combine well.
  7. Pour in the1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water and mix well.
  8. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. After 30 minutes, stir in the chopped chard to the mixture and give a good stir. Cover and bake 10 -15 minutes more, until the chard is tender and chicken is cooked.
  10. Serve hot with crusty bread aside.
 

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Bended Eggplant Kebabs with Meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk

Bended eggplant kebab with meatballs; Patlicanli beli bukuk kebap; utterly delicious

Bended eggplant kebab with meatballs; Patlicanli beli bukuk kebap; utterly delicious

Our national favorite Patlican, or aubergine or eggplants are appearing in the markets more now; I love its deliciously sweet, meaty flesh in mezzes, salads, casseroles, even in boreks, savory pastries. This recipe, bended eggplant slices with meatballs or Patlicanli beli bukuk, or Boynu bukuk as we call it, is a childhood favorite. Marriage of the delicate eggplant flesh with meatballs, baked in a delicious tomato sauce with peppers is simply heavenly. All you need is some crusty bread or rice aside and you are all set with a scrumptious, complete meal.

Lightly brown the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes in a heavy pan or bake in the oven.

Lightly brown the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes in a heavy pan or bake in the oven.

You need slim and long purple eggplants for this recipe, as they are first quartered lengthways and then each quarter are cut into deep splits (keeping the skin intact). Once the slices are shallow fried (or baked in the oven, if you prefer), they will soften and bend. If you are in Turkey, you can get those really slim and long eggplants, patlican, which won’t need cutting lengthways; you can just cut deep splits side ways and prepare the recipe.

Gently bend the sautéed eggplant slices and insert the meatballs at the splits, gently push the meatballs in.

Gently bend the sautéed eggplant slices and insert the meatballs at the splits, gently push the meatballs in.

We then insert small meatballs, koftes to these slits, which will naturally bend the eggplants and hence comes the name; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk or Patlicanli Boynu Bukuk Kebab (Bended Eggplant Kebab). It may sound a little tricky to do, but it really is not; you will get the hang of it in a few tries. The meatballs cocooned around the eggplants cook deliciously in the juicy sauce with peppers and tomato sauce.

Baked bended eggplant slices with meatballs - Patlicanli beli bukuk

Baked bended eggplant slices with meatballs – Patlicanli beli bukuk

I hope you enjoy one of our favorite kebabs with patlican, eggplant. Cacik dip with yoghurt, cucumbers and dried mint would be delicious aside, so as this wholesome bulgur pilaf with almonds. I use biber salcasi, Turkish red pepper paste  to flavor the sauce and it adds a delicious heat, if you like it too. If not, you can replace it with tomato paste.

Bended eggplant slices with meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk Kebab

Bended eggplant slices with meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk Kebab

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Bended Eggplant Kebabs with Meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk
 
I hope you enjoy this childhood favorite; Bended Eggplant Slices with Meatballs; Patlicanli Beli Bukuk. It is a delicious, moist kebab that you can prepare ahead of time. Marriage of the delicate eggplant flesh with meatballs, baked in a delicious tomato sauce with peppers is heavenly; an impressive dish, great for entertaining.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish casseroles with eggplants and meatballs
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 long purple eggplants/aubergines
  • 2 bell or pointy peppers (green, red or yellow), deseeded, quartered and cut in chunky slices
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • Light olive oil or canola oil to shallow fry the eggplants
  • 4 – 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste, Biber salcasi or tomato paste
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp. water to dilute pepper paste or tomato paste
  • 400 gr/14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 16 fl oz. / 2 cups of water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Kofte/Meatball ingredients:
  • 400 gr/14 oz. ground beef, lamb or mixture
  • 1 onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 slice of slate bread (white or brown), soaked in a bowl of water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Cut the stalk of the eggplants and slice in half lengthways. Then cut each slice again in lengthways, you will get 4 long quarters per eggplant.
  3. Then cut each eggplant quarter into 3 -4 deep splits (keeping the skin intact), depending on the length of the eggplant.
  4. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture and the bitter juices come out of the eggplants. Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly afterwards.
  5. To prepare the meatballs, soak the stale bread slice in a small bowl of water then squeeze dry. In a large bowl, combine all the kofte, meatball ingredients except the meat and knead well. That will help soften the onions and blend the ingredients homogenously. Stir in the ground meat, season with salt (about 1 - 2 tsp.) and ground black pepper to your taste. Knead for a good 3-5 minutes with your hands, until the mixture becomes elastic and mixed well. Cover this mixture with a cling film and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes (or a little more, if you can).
  6. While the meatball mixture is resting, prepare the eggplant quarters. Pour in 2 tbsp. light olive oil or canola oil in a heavy pan and lightly brown the eggplant slices for 2-3 minutes. You may need to top up with light olive oil if you’re shallow frying (Alternatively, you can bake the eggplant quarters in the preheated oven at 200 C, for 20 – 25 minutes. Make sure the tray and the eggplants are greased with olive oil before baking). Place the sautéed eggplant quarters on a large tray and set aside.
  7. Shape the meatball mixture into walnut sized meatballs. Gently bend the sautéed eggplant slices and insert the meatballs at the splits, gently push the meatballs in. You will insert 3-4 meatballs into each eggplant slice.
  8. Carry on until all the meatballs are inserted into the splits of the eggplants. If you have any meatballs left over, you can place them in the middle of the bended eggplants with meatballs or you can place them around the tray.
  9. Place the eggplants with meatballs in a baking tray.
  10. Spread the chopped onions, garlic and peppers around and stir in 2 tbsp. olive oil over these vegetables and gently mix with your hands.
  11. Pour in the chopped tomatoes around the tray.
  12. Dilute 1 tbsp. pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste, with 4 tbsp. water in a small bowl. Pour in this mixture over the tray too.
  13. Stir in 16 fl oz. / 2 cups of water over the tray and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine well.
  14. Bake, uncovered for 40 – 45 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked and meatballs and vegetables start to brown. About 25 minutes into baking, check if more water needed in the tray. If so add another ½ cup of water, it is delicious to have some juice in this tray bake.
  15. Gently take out the squared eggplant slices with meatballs, using a large spatula. Serve hot with Cacik dip of cucumbers with yoghurt by the side. Plain rice or bulgur pilaf with almonds (recipe available in my blog) also goes well with this eggplant & meatball kebab.
 

 

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Bulgur and Lentil Patties – Mercimekli Bulgur Kofte

Bulgur and lentil patties, mercimekli, bulgurlu kofte; wholesome - try next to pomegranate molasses & olive oil dipping sauce, delicious.

Bulgur and lentil patties, mercimekli, bulgurlu kofte; wholesome – try next to pomegranate molasses & olive oil dipping sauce, delicious.

This is a delicious and healthy vegetarian recipe that you can serve as an appetizer; it would be a great party dish to accompany roasted vegetables and meat too. You can serve it wrapped in lettuce leaves, and it is delicious when dipped in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil & pomegranate molasses (sharp balsamic vinegar would be a good replacement if you cannot find pomegranate molasses). Middle Eastern and most specialty food stores carry pomegranate molasses and the online Turkish stores Tulumba and Best Turkish Food carries a wide range of Turkish ingredients.  For the Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi, you can make your own if you like, here is my Turkish hot pepper paste recipe.

We lived in the southeast part of Turkey, in a town called Elazig for 8 years during my childhood. It is an amazing part of the world, next door to the fascinating Mount Ararat (the highest mountain in Turkey, where Noah’s Ark is believed to have landed and a cradle of early civilization dating back to the early bronze age. I remember the locals being very warm and friendly; happy to share their food and open their doors to new comers. This recipe is from Southeast part of Turkey (and there are many regional variations), one of the local specialties Mum learned from the locals and passed to us. I hope you enjoy it and make it there one day!

You can also add a few finely chopped green onions (spring onions) and a handful of chopped parsley to the bulgur & lentil patties mixture before shaping into balls, they go well together.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 35 – 40 minutes

175 gr/6 oz/ 3/4 cup red lentils
225 gr/8 oz/ generous 1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
1 medium onion, finely chopped
15 ml / 1 tablespoon red pepper paste or chili paste (if not available, replace with 10 ml / 2 teaspoon tomato paste and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ml / 2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
30 ml / 2 tablespoon olive oil
240 ml / 8 fl oz/ 1 cup hot water (for lentils)
120 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup hot water (for bulgur)

Small bowl of water to shape the balls

For the dipping sauce:
120 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
30 ml / 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Small lettuce leaves to serve

Place the red lentils in a saucepan and add the hot water. Bring it to boil, half covered. Then lower the heat and let the lentils simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off. Add the bulgur, its hot water, red pepper paste, olive oil, salt and cumin, mix well. Let the mixture sit and absorb the water for about 15 minutes until all the moisture is absorbed and the mixture is of dry consistency (when turning the heat off, the bulgur will become softer though retaining its “al dente”,  texture with a bite). Mix well occasionally to blend the flavors.

Sauté the onions in olive oil and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they turn a golden color. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

Combine the sautéed onions with the lentil and bulgur mixture in a large bowl. Take about a walnut size of the mixture into your hands and with wet hands, shape it as patties. Place them on a wide serving tray with lettuce leaves by the side to wrap.

For the dipping sauce; mix the pomegranate molasses and the extra virgin olive oil, place in a small dipping bowl.

Serve the bulgur and lentil patties with the lettuce leaves and the dipping sauce by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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