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Tag Archives | Turkish mezzes

Cerkez Tavugu – Circassian chicken with walnut sauce

Cerkez Tavugu; Circassian chicken with walnut sauce; simply delicious and wholesome

Cerkez Tavugu; Circassian chicken with walnut sauce; simply delicious and wholesome

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 and I love it this way. 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. This meze also makes a great sandwich filler!

You can also spice up your left over chicken roast with this walnut sauce, as well as a delicious use for your fleft over bread. No cream, no mayonnaise, just with such a tasty, healthy dressing, you can create a delicious chicken dish.

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

Turkish cuisine has such a rich culinary heritage; it is also healthy and Turkish recipes are easy to make – it is a pleasure to share our authentic Turkish recipes here in my blog and also at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table are available at this link and it is delivered promptly, worldwide including US and Canada, if you’d like to get a copy.

Afiyet Olsun,


Serves 6-8
Preparation time – 30 minutes Cooking time – 1 hour

1 Whole chicken, trimmed of excess fat OR
225 gr / 8 oz chicken breast and 225 gr/8 oz chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
350 gr/12 oz walnuts, crushed
4 slices of stale bread, crusts removed * (you can use gluten-free bread to make this dish gluten-free)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt
10 ml/ 2 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes – if not available, paprika or cayenne pepper
1 small bunch of coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For the garnish:
30 ml/ 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 ml/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes/paprika flakes
1 handful shelled walnuts, chopped
Roughly chopped coriander (cilantro)

Combine the chicken leg and breast, the onion and water to almost cover the chicken in a large pan, season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, discard the skin (if whole chicken used), strip the meat from the bones, tear into thin strips and put to one side. Reserve the cooking liquid.

For the walnut dressing, soak the bread in a little of the reserved cooking liquid. Squeeze dry and crumble the bread into a bowl with walnuts, garlic cloves, salt and red pepper flakes. In a food processor blitz these together to form a paste. Add a spoonful at a time of the reserved cooking liquid until a creamy consistency is obtained. Fold in the coriander (cilantro) leaves and season with salt and pepper if needed.

In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with half the walnut dressing. Pour onto a serving plate and cover with the remaining sauce. You can refrigerate at this stage until required.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the Turkish red pepper flakes, cook gently for about a minute. To serve, sprinkle the dressed chicken with chopped walnuts, sprigs of coriander (cilantro) and a drizzle of the red pepper flakes / paprika infused oil over it.

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Smoked Eggplant Salad with Garlic Yoghurt – Patlicanli Yogurtlama

Patlicanli yogurtlama; smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint

Patlicanli yogurtlama; smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint

Another refreshing smoked eggplant salad from southern Turkey, Antakya, this time with garlic yoghurt and mint. It goes very well with grilled meats, or just with some nice crusty bread as an appetizer. If you can cook the eggplants over open fire or on stove top, eggplants get a delicious, smoky flavor.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes

1 large or 2 medium eggplant (aubergine)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
About 200 ml/ 7 fl oz/1 cup plain yoghurt
5 ml/ 1 teaspoon dried mint
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of a quarter of lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 C/ 400 F

Cook the eggplants (aubergines) on a barbecue grill or over and open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. (Alternatively they can be pricked in few places and baked in a hot oven for about 45 minutes). Peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices. (You can prepare the eggplants this way a day in advance; squeeze lemon juice over to retain its color and keep in the fridge covered). Finely chop the flesh and set aside.

Combine the yoghurt, flesh of eggplant, garlic, salt, black pepper and the dried mint in a mixing bowl. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish, sprinkle a little more dried mint and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over.

This delicious meze and over 90 authentic recipes from my homeland are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table; signed copies available at this link (it is 25 % off), delivered worldwide including the US and Canada.

We are delighted to share that hardback copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table now also available via Milk Street Online Store in the USA, via link here.

Afiyet Olsun,


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Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir


We made Kisir today with the children. We talked about how important it is for us to be able to share and have an access to the recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and be able to pass on to friends, family and to the next generation. More than being recipes, they really reflect our heritage, culture, traditions and keep the memories alive.

So here comes kisir, from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate molasses) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce full of antioxidants.

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! I hope you can get to try the recipe. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, a good balsamic vinegar and lemon juice also works well in this bulgur wheat salad. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi is used widely in this salad in Southern Turkish cooking; you can always make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

Note: There are two main varieties of bulgur wheat available, fine and coarse bulgur. Fine bulgur is traditionally used in  salads like kisir whereas coarse bulgur is used in pilafs or As as we call it in Antakya. If you can’t get the fine bulgur wheat, you can also make this salad with coarse bulgur, widely available in supermarkets. In that case, use 240ml/8 fl oz hot water for 175gr/6oz coarse bulgur and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, covered.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

350gr/12oz fine bulgur wheat
240ml/8 fl oz hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
5ml / 1 teaspoon pul biber, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
30ml/ 2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Small bunch of finely chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
5ml / 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pomegranate seeds to serve (optional)
Lettuce leaves to serve

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften-. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.

Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Image by Sian Irvine Photography, from Ozlem’s Turkish table cookery book

Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with pomegranate seeds (if preferred) and  lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take spoonfuls of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.

Afiyet Olsun,


New! Ozlem Turkish Table Apron on Sale

I am absolutely delighted to share with you that we also designed this special Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron, just in time for the holiday gift giving season. It is special to my heart, as it is made in Turkey, with my hometown Antakya’s celebrated daphne leaves in the hand embroidered design – this lovely apron would make a wonderful gift for the festive season, you can get yours at this link. Delivered worldwide including the US.


Ozlem’s Turkish Table Interview with TRT Radio 1 (Turkish National Radio 1)

It’s been an honor to be interviewed by the Turkish National Radio, TRT Radyo 1, at the Gunebakan Program today, talking about Turkish cuisine abroad. A special moment for me, talking in Turkish, at my homeland’s national radio channel. As we talked during the interview, our  recipes are valuable gateways to share our thousands years of our culinary heritage with the world and pass on to the next generations. Also living abroad, I well know how precious our food is to connect us to our homeland, our memories and bring our stories to life. It is such a privilege to share my homeland Turkey’s amazing culinary heritage, traditions, recipes, hospitality, through these precious opportunities and  my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. My sincere thanks goes to GB Publishing and Pinar Foods UK for helping me spread the word on wholesome, delicious Turkish cuisine.
Here is the link to our interview with TRT Radio 1, I hope you enjoy it:

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