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Tag Archives | Turkish red pepper flakes

Chocolate Cake with a Tickle of Red Pepper Flakes – Some like it (a little) hot!

I have been hooked by the Spice Trip TV program where one of my favorite chefs Stevie Parle and the spice expert Emma Grazette have been travelling around the world to discover the wonderful, magical world of spices. They have been to Mexico a few weeks ago, exploring the chillies and Stevie produced a gorgeous looking Mexican style chocolate cake with chilli flakes in it. Chillies are so varied in Mexican cuisine and they do appear at sweet and savory dishes – not to forget the famous Mexican hot chocolate with chilies. I loved the idea of the warmness a touch of red pepper flakes would bring to the cake.

Chocolate cake with a tickle of red pepper flakes; moist, delicious and certainly will keep you warm 🙂

Since then, I have been very tempted to reproduce this delicious, very easy chocolate cake, using Turkish red pepper flakes. We Turks notoriously add red pepper flakes to almost all savory dishes, but experimenting with chillies in cakes and desserts was a first for me, so I must say, I was cautious. The original recipe asks for 2 tsp dried chilli flakes – I used just a shy of 1  1/2 tsp Turkish red pepper flakes, as they have a strong, smoky flavor. The result was a delicious but not overpowering  touch of spice that gets you after a while, and brings you warmness. Here is what my 8 year old son thought of the cake; “ You get the yummy chocolate taste first, then in a while you feel a tickle of spice, I liked it”. We enjoyed this spicy twist to the chocolate cake and I liked the surprise element to it and seeing the smiles on friends who tried!

Have you added chillies to your sweet creations before? I would love to hear your experiences.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Stevie Parle’s original recipe, which also calls for 2 tbsp tequila –  a delicious addition. You can decorate your cake with pomegranates seeds for a festive look and taste.

Serves 10

Preparation time: 15 minutes                                                     Cooking time: 20 minutes

200gr/7oz dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids

200gr/7oz unsalted butter

1 ½ tsp Turkish red pepper flakes or chilli flakes

4 eggs

150gr/ 5 ¼ oz golden caster sugar

45gr/3 tbsp ground almonds

15ml/ 1 tbsp plain flour –(for gluten-free version, please use gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend)

A pinch of sea salt flakes

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

Line a 23cm round cake tin with grease proof paper and grease with  butter.

Chocolate and red pepper flakes; rather unusual yet surprisingly delicious.


Melt the chocolate, butter and red pepper flakes in a glass or metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, taking care not to burn the chocolate. The bowl must not touch the water as this will split the mixture. Remove from the heat, stir and leave for a few minutes to cool.

Stir in the ground almonds and the flour to the chocolate mixture; the ground almonds are not only healthy but also keep the cake deliciously moist.

Stir in the eggs, one by one, and then the sugar, followed by the almonds, flour and a pinch of salt. Pour the batter into the cake tin and sprinkle with the salt flakes. Bake for 20 minutes.

The chocolate cake with red pepper flakes, baked - ready to cool.

Leave to cool, then cut into slices. It is a rich, moist cake, so you don’t need thick slices.

The chocolate cake has a nice crust but it is deliciously moist inside.

The cake looks lovely and festive when decorated with pomegranate seeds. The tangy taste of the pomegranates also complement the rich chocolate cake well.

Chocolate cake with red pepper flakes - hope you enjoy it 🙂


Wishing You All A Wonderful Festive Season & Afiyet Olsun,



Covent Garden, London, looking very festive, December 2010. A more recent photo will follow shortly!


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Sizzling Chicken Kebab and Roasted Vegetables on pide (pitta) bread

Have you ever had the wonderful sizzling kebabs in Turkey? There is a kebab house at every corner at home, and the smells, sights are always very inviting. Family and friends gather around Ocakbasi, to witness and enjoy Asci (Chef) preparing and grilling succulent meats, vegetables, making pide (pitta) bread for hours; a ritual I love and miss very much. So I thought to recreate this wonderful dish at home- and you would be pleased to know that it is very easy to tackle. You can prepare most of the stages ahead of time, which makes the dish a great choice for entertaining. The kebab looks impressive, tastes wonderful and you can ensemble the final dish the day of your party – so the host gets to enjoy the company too! You can replace chicken with any other meat of your choice, or for a vegetarian option, mushrooms, eggplants, courgettes all work very well.

Chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt, spices and olive oil; delicious with roasted vegetables on flat bread, pide, or pita bread

Chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt, spices and olive oil; delicious with roasted vegetables on flat bread, pide, or pita bread

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 40 minutes Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

2 eggplants (aubergine)
6-8 small bell peppers (green, orange, yellow or red) or 3 big ones, cut in chunks
3-4 tablespoons olive oil for roasting the vegetables
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes – optional-
2 large naan breads or 4 small pitta breads cut into chunky stripes
225gr/8oz natural plain yoghurt
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

For the tomato sauce:
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
30ml/2tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

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
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste and 10ml/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15ml / 1 tablespoon red pepper paste
Salt and freshly ground 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.

For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook until they begin to color. Stir in the chopped tomotoes, mix well. Cook uncovered on medium to low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. You can prepare the tomato sauce a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered.

On the day of your party, you can do the rest of the cooking. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants 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.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the marinated chicken breast. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will give a nice brown coloring to the meat and seal the juices to keep them moist. Season with salt and black pepper and turn the heat off.

On a baking tray, spread the eggplant slices and the colorful peppers. Drizzle the olive oil over them and season with salt and black pepper (you can also sprinkle red pepper flakes over them for extra heat). Coat all the pieces with olive oil and seasoning and roast in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until they are chargrilled around the edges.

At the same time of the vegetables roasting, place the chicken pieces and the marination sauce around them on a wide baking dish and roast for about 35 minutes, until they are chargrilled.

Just before serving, place the pitta or naan bread on a baking tray and warm them up for about 5-8 minutes. Take a wide serving dish and warm in the oven for a few minutes.

Now it is time to ensemble the kebab. Place the stripes of the warm pitta (or naan) bread on your serving dish as a flat base. Spoon the tomato sauce over the bread and spread. Arrange the chicken kebabs and the roasted vegetables over the tomato sauce. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve hot, with dollops of the remaining sauce and yoghurt by the side.

Sizzling chicken kebabs with roasted vegetables; delicious with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Sizzling chicken kebabs with roasted vegetables; delicious with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,


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Patties with Potato, Bulgur, Onion and Parsley – Patatesli, Bulgurlu Kofte

Bulgur and potato patties, bulgurlu, patatesli kofte; delicious to dip into sauces

Bulgur and potato patties, bulgurlu, patatesli kofte; delicious to dip into sauces

These patties are healthy, moist, easy to make and delicious; you just can’t stop eating them. They look similar to the bulgur and lentil patties I made previously(recipe in the blog, under appetizers and mezes), they have a different texture though, softer and more moist.You can serve them as a starter meze on a bed of lettuce leaves to wrap, or with bowl of olive oil and pomegranate molasses (or some sharp balsamic vinegar) by the side to dip in. In Southern Turkey, it is common to dip these patties to the sauce of stew and casseroles. I recently served them by the side of the aubergine, shallots and meat stew and they went down very well, disappeared very quickly 🙂

You can prepare them a day in advance, the flavors get even better the next day.  Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi, add a wonderful flavor to the patties; you can make your own hot pepper paste here , if you like. Add more red pepper flakes if you like it more spicy. Traditionally, fine bulgur is used in these patties; if you can’t find fine bulgur, you can use coarse bulgur, which is widely available in supermarkets; in that case, double the hot water amount and cook the course bulgur first in hot water as per the package.

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

We use seasonal produce, bulgur, whole grains, legumes and pulses a lot in Turkish cuisine, and flavour with natural condiments such as olive oil, pomegranate molasses, southern Turkish way. This recipe and many more wholesome, authentic recipes included in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland; signed copies available at this link, delivered worldwide including US and Canada.

Serves 8 -10
Preparation time : 15-20 minutes Cooking time : 25 minutes

175gr/6oz/1 cup fine bulgur, rinsed and drained
4 medium potatoes, skinned and quartered
45-60ml/3-4 tablespoon olive oil
3 spring onions, finely chopped
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
1 – 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoon/10ml ground cumin
120ml/ 4fl oz hot water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Bowl of cold water to wet your hands

Extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses (or sharp balsamic vinegar) to serve

In a large bowl, combine the bulgur, red pepper paste, biber salcasi (or red pepper flakes) and spring onion, mix well with using your hands. This will help the paste or the spice to really blend in with the bulgur and the spring onions. Add the hot water on the mixture and give a good stir. Leave it aside for about 15 minutes and stir once in a while so that all the water would be absorbed.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, drain the water. Mash the potatoes in a separate bowl with cumin. Add the olive oil, salt and ground pepper and knead the potatoes with your hands really well, until they are smooth and elastic. Stir in the potatoes with the bulgur mixture, and add the parsley, mix well with your hands. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Have the bowl of water ready by your side. Wet your hands with the water and take a walnut size from the mixture and shape like patties using your hands. Place them side by side on a serving dish.

Put some extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses (or sharp balsamic vinegar) on a small bowl and serve the patties with them for dipping. The patties are also wonderful served on a bed of lettuce leaves.

Afiyet Olsun,


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