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Tag Archives | Turkish meatballs

A Special, Flying Visit to Istanbul

 

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

We had a flying visit to Istanbul last weekend; packed with family and friends to see, my niece’s beautiful wedding and delicious Turkish food to savor; every minute of it was special. And what better greeting than of seeing Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings upon arrival, a very warm welcome that I couldn’t resist.

My dear sister Oznur and fellow blogger Senior Dogs Abroad timely informed me that the Yenikapi Metro train line is now connected to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It’s indeed joyful news; we took the metro train line from the airport all the way to 4th Levent – a seamless, smooth journey just over 1 hour and great value. I highly recommend using the Metro train line from Ataturk Airport to all the way to Taksim and beyond.

Kofteci Huseyin – Beyoglu, Istanbul:

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu - Istanbul

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu – Istanbul

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Just before I departed for Istanbul, I got a note from a reader, Chris, asking if I can visit Kofteci Huseyin in BeyogluIstanbul (address: Sehit Muhtar Mah. Kurabiye Sok, Akgun Is Hani, 14/A – Beyoglu – Istanbul). Apparently he had one of the best koftes, Turkish meatballs there and the tomato based sauce served with the meatballs there was just amazing. Well, I had a packed schedule but now was so curious about Kofteci Huseyin that I had to make it and so glad I did. Tucked behind Beyoglu, Kofteci Huseyin is a tiny lokanta, serving the very best Turkish meatballs with fasulye piyazi, Turkish bean salad with onions, since 1958. You are greeted with a warm smile and your koftes are made to order in front of you and served with freshly baked somun ekmek, Turkish bread with piyaz. You can tell they are passionate about their kofte; sourcing out their meat from local butchers, prepared lovingly. Kofteci Huseyin says “They ask me why I don’t serve soup or desserts; making kofte is what I do best and that’s our specialty. Every day we make kofte out of 40 kg of minced (ground beef), onion and bread crumbs and once the meat is finished, our job is finished for the day too, around 4 pm. They ask me why I don’t serve in the evenings; well, there are friends and family to see, time to pause, until the next kofte tomorrow”. I liked his way of thinking.

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Chris especially wanted to know how they make the delicious tomato based sauce served next to the Turkish meatballs, koftes there. It’s a secret recipe apparently, though they revealed there’s crushed tomatoes and Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber in it. I have a feeling there’s also a touch of Biber Salcasi, Turkish hot pepper paste in the sauce, adding a spicy peppery flavor. Kofteci Huseyin is a delightful, small kofteci if you happen to be at Beyoglu area and I am grateful that Chris asked me to investigate. If you’d like to make kofte at home, here is my kofte, Turkish meatballs recipe 101.

Sahi Istanbul:

Meeting up with friends at Sahi Istanbul.

Meeting up with friends, Cicekten and Revan at Sahi Istanbul.

Have you discovered the beautiful Sahi Istanbul in Karakoy?  Founded by ex-colleague and dear friend Cicekten, Sahi Istanbul is home from home for me, offering the best of authentic , genuine Turkish design (as its name refers to), with traditional and contemporary objects, sourced from Turkish artisans all around Turkey. I love the beautiful hand decorated ceramics, locally sourced textiles and the authentic Turkish delights I long to taste there, whenever I am home. It was a delightful to stop by at Sahi Istanbul meeting with friends and Cicekten showered us with the best possible Turkish hospitality.

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep.

 

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Homemade Turkish delights (which you can have a go at making them at Sahi Istanbul – Karakoy); scrumptious boreks, pastries and the original baklava sourced from Gaziantep; we washed them all down with endless glasses of Turkish tea, cay and chats. Please pay a visit to Sahi Istanbul if you can, you won’t be disappointed. Sahi Istanbul’s website in English will also be available shortly.

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics, books and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Sahi Istanbul also very generously gave away their authentic Turkish bracelets and Turkish homemade soaps for my Turkish cookery classes at the Central Market Cooking Schools in the US in February 2014. Special gifts to showcase Turkish crafts and hospitality, I am very grateful to their generosity.

A Delightful Meet up over Turkish Breakfast:

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together with Senior Dogs

No visit to Turkey is complete without a leisurely Turkish breakfast with friends and family, my favorite meal of the day. Just before our departure, we managed to sit at our local café by the Bosphorus with my parents, my sister and family and dear friends and fellow bloggers Senior Dogs Abroad.  Senior Dogs live in Istanbul and blogs about life in Turkey (as well as world affairs) and I have been meaning to introduce them to my parents. My parents were delighted and so impressed with their Turkish and even more that they will be traveling to Eastern Turkey shortly. We lived in Elazig at the southeast of Turkey over 8 years when I was a child and my parents were eager to give as many tips as to where to visit- we all look forward to their adventures up there, not to be missed! As always, it was a delightful few hours spent together with family and friends.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers  is a favorite with us; delicious for a leisurely brunch or a light supper, it is so easy to make it at home too; here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Time to say farewell and hope to see you soon, Istanbul; a special city that calls for us often.

Afiyet Olsun ve Yine Gorusmek Dilegiyle,

Ozlem

Peri’s Spice Ladle’s e-book, Spice Up Your Celebration is out now!!

spiceupyourcelebration3D-680x1079I really am delighted to see that dear friend and fellow blogger Peri’s Spice Ladle’s ebook, Spice Up Your Celebration; Indian Inspired recipes for Occasions, Holidays and Entertaining is out now! We have been enjoying Peri’s delicious and easy to follow Indian recipes for a long time and she really made me appreciate a variety of spices to incorporate our dishes through her wonderful, Indian inspired delicious recipes. This gem of a book is a great source to make and enjoy delicious Indian cuisine in the comfort of your home; it’s a keeper in our home and I hope you enjoy it too. You can view the details of the Spice Up Your Celebration ebook through here. Enjoy!

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Spring in Istanbul; Tulips, Spectacular Chora Museum, Glorious Turkish Food and More

Gorgeous tulips greet you everywhere in Istanbul in spring

Gorgeous tulips greet you everywhere in Istanbul in spring

Istanbul’dan Merhaba! – Greetings to you all from Istanbul! There are so many things to share from home, especially at this time of the year with a lovely balmy spring air. Here are a few snapshots from Istanbul, I hope you enjoy them.

Istanbul welcomed us with a lovely spring air and gorgeous tulips dotted all around the city; their colors are simply mesmerising.  Apparently the Municipality in Istanbul planted 2 million tulip bulbs, they are a feast to the eye.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the tulips, lale, in Istanbul

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the tulips, lale, in Istanbul

The Ottomans had an immense fondness for the tulips; as a matter of fact, there was  the Tulip Period  when  Ottoman Empire  have begun to orient itself towards Europe and the elite, high-class society of the Ottomans enjoyed tulips in their courtyards, gardens and in various occasions. Tulips defined nobility and privilege, both in terms of goods and leisure time. Continuing this heritage, you can enjoy the many varieties of tulips in in Istanbul in spring.

Turkish tea, cay - with a smile; a very warm welcome

Turkish tea, cay – with a smile; a very warm welcome

Cay, most probably the most popular Turkish drink

Cay, most probably the most popular Turkish drink

One of the things that warmly welcomes you at home is a glass of cay – Turkish tea (you can see the influence of the Tulip era even at the shape of the Turkish traditional tea glasses) – with a warm smile from the locals, that is a wonderful welcome. I gratefully accepted Armada’s “Hosgeldiniz” cay : )

Apple tea, elma cayi - not traditinally a Turkish drink but still very pleasant

Apple tea, elma cayi – not traditinally a Turkish drink but still very pleasant

How about apple tea, elma cayi? On the contrary of belief, it It is not a traditional Turkish drink, you wouldn’t see a Turk drinking apple tea at home. It is widely offered at cafes around Sultanahmet, Old Istanbul and still a refreshing, pleasant drink – and goes down very well sitting outside in a nice spring day over looking Old Istanbul!

Shoe-shine with a view, over looking the Hagia Sophia

Shoe-shine with a view, over looking the Hagia Sophia

Have you had your shoes polished while in Turkey? It is a great, friendly experience – with a top notch service- and value for money; my husband saves his shoes to be polished at home. On this traditional stalls, experts like Mehmet here cleans and polishes your shoe up to the standards of brand new! If you are in Sultanahmet area, look out for him, as his spot offers the fascinating view of Hagia Sophia.

Sultanahmet Koftecisi is a delicious, quick stop for Turkish style meatballs and bean salad

Sultanahmet Koftecisi is a delicious, quick stop for Turkish style meatballs and bean salad

And soon we were hungry. Sultanahmet Koftecisi has been making delicious Turkish meatballs served with the bean salad with onions, lettuce, shredded carrots and pickled peppers, for over 90 years. It is a locals hub and popular with tourists too. We enjoyed this quick, delicious and healthy lunch.

Turkish meatballs, piyaz salad with beans and ayran - make a delicious lunch

Turkish meatballs, piyaz salad with beans and ayran – make a delicious lunch

Fasulye Piyazi, the bean salad with onions, tomatoes, using the canellini beans is a delicious, healthy salad that you can make in minutes. I use the pre-cooked canellini beans and add a boiled egg to it; the salad itself makes a wonderful, healthy lunch and it is a great accompaniment to grilled meatballs and any grilled meat too. Here is my recipe for the bean salad, if you would like to try.

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs - Fasulye piyazl

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs – Fasulye piyazi

If you haven’t already been to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, I highly recommend it. Tucked away behind the Topkapi Palace, the magnificient museum is divided into three buildings; the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of Ancient Orient and the Tiled Kiosk. The museum hosts the Palace collections, formed druing the 19th century by the archaelogist Osman Hamdi.

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is a must see

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is a must see

 

Sarcophagus of Mourning Women - Mid 6th century BC
Sarcophagus of Mourning Women – Mid 6th century BC, Archaeology Museum, Istanbul
Sipping Turkish coffee and taking it all in at the Archaeology Museum, Istanbul

Sipping Turkish coffee and taking it all in at the Archaeology Museum, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom, Istanbul

No matter now many times I may have visited the Hagia Sophia, this divine place always calls me back. Hagia Sophia, the Church of Divine Wisdom, was completed in 537, and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the city was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1453, then turned into a mosque. In 1935, Ataturk proclaimed this amazing place a museum for everyone to enjoy. Take your time and arrive early to enjoy this masterpiece.

The wonderful Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

The wonderful Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

Right accross the Hagia Sophia is another masterpiece, the Blue Mosque, built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I; he set out to build a monument that would rival and even surpass Hagia Sophia in grandeur. The Blue Mosque is decorated with 20,000 Iznik tiles, absolutely beautiful to look at. This is a functioning mosque that welcomes visitors and offers much pleasure and peace.

Chocolate and pistachio pudding- Sutlu, fistikli puding, so delicious

Chocolate and pistachio pudding- Sutlu, fistikli puding, so delicious

Need a break? Hafiz Mustafa has been making delicious puddings, desserts like baklavas, Turkish delights since 1864.Their store in Sultanahmet has a wonderful cafe and a little library, a good place to pause and enjoy the break. We enjoyed this luscious chocolate and pistachio pudding with shredded coconut, almonds and nuts over the top – always have time for food : )

Turkish carpets are of high quality with beautiful designs

Turkish carpets are of high quality with beautiful designs

During our tour, we also had a chance to watch how the famous Turkish carpets are made. Turkish carpets are made of double knots, very durable and of high quality and all hand woven; they are a labor of love too, as especially the a silk carpet can take 4-6 months to be completed – really a work of art.

Chora (Kariye) Museum, Istanbul

Chora (Kariye) Museum, Istanbul

If you haven’t been to the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (“Kariye Muzesi”) in Turkish, I hope you make it there when you visit Istanbul. The church, now museum, is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine Church and covered with beautiful, immaculate mozaics. The museum is at Edrnekapi, a little further than Sultanahmet but so worth the visit. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque and, finally, it became a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes in great condition.

Chora Museum hosts fine examples of mosaics and frescoes

Chora Museum hosts fine examples of mosaics and frescoes

 

The mezze feast; hummus, abagannus, walnut & red pepper paste dip and more

The mezze feast; hummus, abagannus, walnut & red pepper paste dip and more

Soon, we were ready to eat again. I love the mezze culture we have in Turkey’; a small plateful of delicious appetizers like this hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive oil, the walnut and red pepper paste dip, the stuffed vine leaves and many more. They are a feast to all senses. You just need to control yourself not to over eat otherwise you are too full to have the main course!

Turkish flat breads with nigella seeds - so dangerously delicious, as it is hard to stop!

Turkish flat breads with nigella seeds – so dangerously delicious, as it is hard to stop eating!

These Turkish flat breads that come with the mezzes are my weak point; they are so delicious that it is hard to stop eating and they complement the mezzes so well. As soon as you sit down at the restaurants, you are served generous portions : )

Boats getting ready for the day at the Sea of Marmara

Boats getting ready for the day at the Sea of Marmara

I woke up this morning to be greeted by all these fishing boats getting ready for the day, the seagulls hunting for their first bite and the brew of cay at the background. It felt so good to be at home.

Look forward to sharing more of Istanbul and our visits to other parts of Turkey with you again soon.

Istanbul’dan Selamlar – Warm Greetings from Istanbul;

Ozlem

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Casserole of Turkish Meatballs with Aubergine, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Peppers – Sebzeli Firin Kofte

There is a concept of “lokanta” restaurants at home, where slowly cooked and ready to eat casseroles of meatballs and vegetables, vegetables cooked in olive oil, stuffed vegetables and many more are displayed on serving trays. The idea is you get a chance to eat freshly cooked  “home style” dinners in a restaurant in no time; you simply pick up your tray and fill in your plate with these scrumptious food and they are very good value too. There is no waiting, and you can have a healthy, delicious meal within 30 minutes. Please check out my previous post Slow Cooked Turkish Fast Food for more delicious, affordable and healthy ways of eating out in Turkey.

Pre-cooked delicious casseroles, pilaffs, vegetables cooked in olive oil; all ready to eat

This week’s recipe is an all-in-one pot popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!), one of the many you can experience at lokantas, in Turkey. It is delicious, healthy and you can easily re-create at home. The casserole can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven, and you can bake ahead of time. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain rice or with my recent bulgur pilaf with sautéed almonds. I like to add a variety of seasonal vegetables to my meatballs casserole; zucchini (courgettes) and peas work well here too. You can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

Casserole of Turkish meatballs and vegetables; a favorite for all

I love our hearty and healthy casseroles as well as regional specialties in Turkish cuisine and included them in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table too – it is available to order at this link, if interested.

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

I usually double this casserole recipe and freeze half the portion, as it freezes very well.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time – 30 minutes          Cooking time – 40-45 minutes

For the kofte (meatballs):

450 gr /1 lb ground lamb, beef or mixture

1 medium onion, grated

2 slices of stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry

1 egg, beaten

1 bunch finely chopped Italian parsley

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

A bowl of water for kneading kofte / wetting hands

 And the rest:

450 gr / 1 lb medium potatoes, sliced like thin apple quadrants

1 green, red or yellow bell pepper, deseeded and sliced

1 medium carrot, coarsely sliced

1 aubergine, cut in half lengthways and sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon red pepper paste -optional-

1 tablespoon olive oil

240 ml / 1 cup water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

 

Ingredients for the Turkish meatballs

Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the kofte, meatballs ingredients except the meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles soft dough. With wet hands take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a large finger shape about 1 inch thick. Continue until all the mixture is used. The meatballs can now be covered and stored in the fridge until required.

Salt helps the moisture to come out of the eggplants; make sure you drain these bitter juices

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplant (aubergine) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplant lengthways, about ½ inch thick. Then cut each slice into three parts. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel.

Coat the vegetables with olive oil, red pepper paste or with tomato paste and red pepper flakes

In an oven dish, spread the vegetables. I like to coat the vegetables with the red pepper paste, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix the vegetables and make sure they all get this lovely coating (if you like a milder taste, you can replace the red pepper paste with concentrated tomato paste, and add more red pepper flakes for a spicy flavor). Place the meatballs between the vegetables. Add the chopped tomatoes and water, mix well. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Baked Turkish meatballs with eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes; an all in one delicious dish

Baked Turkish meatballs with eggplants, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes; an all in one delicious dish

Serve hot, with plain rice or bulgur pilaf with almonds by the side.

Have you ever tried our traditional drink Ayran? Ayran is a mixture of plain natural yoghurt, water and a pinch of salt blended together. To make ayran, blend 2 cups of plain yoghurt with 3/4 cup water with a pinch of salt, for about 20 seconds. You will see a nice thick foam and bubbles formed at the top. Serve in water glasses with a few ice cubes in them. Ayran is a popular drink at home, especially with kebabs and casseroles, and it would go well with this casserole too.

Wonderfully foamy and bubbly Ayran; our traditional drink with kebabs and casseroles.

Have you ever tried Ayran? Have you had any experience at eating in lokantas in Turkey?  I would love to hear from you, please share with us, thank you.

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

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