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Tag Archives | Turkish regional cuisine

Flatbreads with zahtar and red pepper paste; Biberli Ekmek

Turkish flat breads with crumbled feta, hot pepper paste, zahtar and sesame seeds, Biberli Ekmek

Turkish flat breads with crumbled feta, hot pepper paste, zahtar and sesame seeds, Biberli Ekmek

This delicious flat bread with spicy red pepper paste, biber salcasi, feta cheese and za’atar or zahtar spice blend is a specialty from the Antakya cuisine and brings special memories back. I remember my grandmother and mum preparing the delicious topping at home and we children would take it to the local bakery, firin, to be baked over flat breads. They always smelled mesmerizing and we couldn’t wait to have a bite (or two).

Aromatic and pungent zahtar or za'atar blend

Aromatic and pungent zahtar or za’atar blend

Fresh Zahter or Zahtar is a popular herb grown in southern part of Turkey, especially around Kilis and Antakya in spring. Fresh zahter looks more like summer savory, or a crossing of marjoram, oregano and thyme. This herb is wonderful on salads like this Zeytin Ufeleme, Olive salad with pomegranate molasses and zahtar. Za’atar is also the name given to the exotic blend of herbs, spices and nuts, widely used in Southern Turkish as well as Middle Eastern cooking. At my home town, Antakya, zahtar blend is a rich mixture of dried zahter, sesame seeds, crushed cooked chickpeas, cumin, nigella seeds, sea salt, sumac and many more. It has a lovely, pungent, nutty taste and flavors salads, meat, and vegetables beautifully. In Antakya, locals simply dip their bread to a bowl of olive oil than to this zahtar blend for a delicious breakfast. I now see wholesome zahtar available even in supermarkets these days, you can also make your own zahter or za’atar blend, here’s my recipe.

Spread the topping over the flat bread and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

Spread the topping over the flat bread and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.

These delicious and healthy flat breads also feature Antakya’s much loved olive oil, Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi and crumbled feta cheese, cokelek. Combined with zahtar, sesame seeds and cumin, it makes a scrumptious, wholesome and fragrant topping for the flat breads. There is a delicious heat from red pepper paste, biber salcasi, a staple in Antakya cuisine and in my kitchen, which add so much flavor. You can make your own red pepper paste, biber salcasi with my recipe; it really is worth the effort. If not, you can add red pepper flakes, mixed with tomato paste instead.

Delicious flat breads with crumbled feta, red pepper paste, sesame seeds and spices; Biberli Ekmek

Delicious flat breads with crumbled feta, red pepper paste, sesame seeds and spices; Biberli Ekmek

I hope you enjoy Biberli Ekmek; it is delicious served as a mezze (try with hummus, muhammara, cevizli biber – red pepper paste and walnut dip or with cacik, yoghurt dip with cucumbers and dried mint), accompanies tea time, soups and main courses so well. My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, is a tribute to this rich culinary heritage and scrumptious authentic recipes like this delicious flat breads, dips, mezes, regional specialties are all included. You can get a signed copy at this link, if you’d like.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Flatbreads with feta, zahtar and red pepper paste; Biberli Ekmek
 
I hope you enjoy Biberli Ekmek; Turkish flat breads with crumbled feta, red pepper paste, sesame seeds, spices and zahtar blend. This easy recipe from Antakya, southern Turkey also showcases region's wonderful olive oil and crumbled feta, cokelek. Delicious and wholesome; try as a mezze (try with Hummus, Muhammara – red pepper paste and walnut dip or with Cacik, yoghurt dip with cucumbers and dried mint), or at tea time, with soups and main courses.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish flat breads with spicy feta cheese topping
Cuisine: Turkish Regional Cuisine - Antakya Cuisine
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 3 cups/16 oz./ 1 lb. plain flour
  • 1 sachet (7 gr ) dried yeast
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup / 4 fl. oz. luke warm milk
  • ¾ cup/ 5 fl. oz. luke warm water
  • ⅓ cup / 3 fl. oz. olive oil
  • For the topping:
  • 200 gr/ 7 oz. crumbled feta cheese or cokelek
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 45 ml/ 3 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. zahtar or za’atar
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Prepare the topping first. Combine the crumbled feta (or cokelek), red pepper paste, tomato paste all the spices, sesame seeds and olive oil. Knead with your hands to blend them well to form a smooth paste. Set the topping aside.
  3. Now let’s make the dough. Combine the flour, dried yeast and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the warm milk, warm water and olive oil and knead for 3 minutes to form a soft dough. If it gets sticky, drizzle a little extra olive oil in your hand to shape the dough, it really helps.
  5. Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil and spread the dough as a thin flat bread base, reaching all the edges (about ¼ cm, 0.9”).
  6. Spread the topping evenly over the flat bread.
  7. Leave the flat bread with topping on at a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Once the dough's risen, bake in the preheated oven (180 C / 350 F) for 18 – 20 minutes.
  9. Let the baked flat bread with spicy feta cheese topping, Biberli Ekmek to cool down for 15 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve as part of a mezze spread or with tea, Turkish cay.
 

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Antakya’s Kombe Cookie with Walnuts; three generations baking

Antakya's kombe cookie with walnuts and cinnamon

Antakya’s kombe cookie with walnuts and cinnamon

Another special treasure my parents kindly brought back from Antakya was these very pretty wooden molds which the locals use to shape the delicious Kombe cookies. I adore the molds’ intricate, delicate designs and have always been always fascinated with the special place these cookies have throughout the Middle Eastern cuisines.

Wooden kombe cookie molds have intricate, delicate designs, just beautiful.

Wooden kombe cookie molds have intricate, delicate designs, just beautiful.

Kombe cookies are made in every special occasion in Antakya and surroundings; weddings, religious festivals, Ramadan or at any special gathering. They have a delicious, crunchy bite to it and I like that they are not overly sweet. There are variations of kombe cookies even in Southeast Turkey; some has only nuts in it, some would have dates, as in the case of their Middle Eastern cousin, Mamul or Ma’amoul. Regardless of their variation, both kombe and ma’amoul have a special place throughout the Middle Eastern cuisines and have been a part of the celebrations in different religions; during Ramadan, Easter and Hanukkah. Indeed a special cross cultural cookie and I think that makes it even more special.

Anneanne, grandma and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies together

Anneanne, grandma and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies together

My 7 year old daughter is a keen baker and she was fascinated with the beautiful kombe molds that anneanne, grandma brought. So we all gathered in the kitchen a few weeks ago; anneanne, myself and my daughter, shaping the kombe cookies. She was fascinated with the shapes forming in the wooden mold and hearing anneanne’s stories. Then mother wanted to consult my dear cousin, Rana in Reyhanli – Hatay, the “pro” Kombe maker in the family, to fine tune the recipe. Rana very kindly went over the kombe recipe as the way it is made in our family; our very special thanks goes to Rana for her invaluable contribution. It was a very memorable experience, which I hope will stay with my daughter a lifetime – a very special recipe and tradition to pass on the next generation.

Baked kombe cookies; love its crunchy texture and delicate taste, flavored with cinnamon.

Baked kombe cookies; love its crunchy texture and delicate taste, flavored with cinnamon.

We used crushed walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in the kombe filling; cinnamon pairs beautifully with walnuts. In Antakya, a special blend of kombe baharat is also sold, consisting of mainly ground cinnamon – there’s also ground all spice, mastic, mahlepi, ground ginger and ground clove (some locals may add a few other spices) in the fragrant kombe baharat (If you’d like to make your own kombe baharat, the ratio of cinnamon to the others in the blend is roughy 3:1). I love that these delicate, crunchy cookies are not overly sweet and they are wonderful with tea, cay or Turkish coffee.

Antakya's kombe cookies with walnuts and cinnamon

Antakya’s kombe cookies with walnuts and cinnamon

I hope you enjoy these delicious Kombe cookies. The wooden molds are a treat; make sure you get some if you plan to go to Antakya, Uzun Carsi (Long Market). If not, you can still decorate your cookies with a fork.

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

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 these lovely kombe cookies. 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

5.0 from 3 reviews
Antakya’s Kombe Cookie with Walnuts; 3 generations baking together
 
I hope you enjoy Antakya's delicious kombe cookies, shaped in the beautiful, intricate wooden kombe molds. Kombe cookies are made during every special event in southern Turkey, Antakya and surroundings; weddings, religious festivals, Ramadan or at any special gathering. They have a delicious, crunchy bite to them and I like that they are not overly sweet. As well as walnuts and cinnamon, dates can also be used in the filling, as in the case of their Middle Eastern cousin, Ma'amoul.
Author:
Recipe type: Traditional Turkish cookies
Cuisine: Regional Turkish Cuisine - Antakya Cuisine
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 500gr/4 cups plain, all-purpose flour
  • 200 gr/ 7 oz. unsalted butter, melted
  • 110gr/ 3.5 oz./ ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 egg white, beaten
  • 10 ml/ 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp. ground cinnamon or Kombe baharat
  • 4 fl. oz./ ½ cup warm whole milk
  • For the filling:
  • 85gr/3 oz./2/3 cup crushed walnuts
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 10ml/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. Combine the flour and the melted butter in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Pour in the vanilla extract, egg whites and the cinnamon or kombe baharat, combine well.
  5. Knead the mixture well for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
  6. Take a small walnut size of the dough and press the dough gently into the mold to take its shape.
  7. Stuff this dough with about 1 ½ tsp. of the filling mixture.
  8. Take another small piece of dough, about half of the size of the first one. Flatten and press this dough gently over the filling,to form a cap and close the dough. Press gently and seal the ends of the dough.
  9. Remove the kombe cookie from the wooden mold by tapping the end of the mold with your fingers firmly and make sure to catch the falling cookie, shaped with the mold’s intricate design. Place the cookie on a baking tray and repeat this with the rest of the dough.
  10. Bake the cookies for about 20 or 25 minutes, until they get a nice light brown color. They are traditionally lighter in color.
  11. Once cool, serve the Kombe cookies with tea, cay or coffee. Kombe cookies can be stored in an airtight container for at least 3-4 days.

 

Ozlem’s Turkish Table featured amongst the best Turk Food Blogs by Daily Sabah 

I have been delighted and honored to see my blog Ozlem’s Turkish Table being featured amongst the best Turkish food blogs by the Daily Sabah national newspaper in Turkey. Please check out the link for the article and also meet other wonderful Turkish food bloggers. With this opportunity, my heartfelt thanks goes to you all for all your support; it means so much to me.

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Stuffed Dried Eggplant and Pepper Dolma; Kuru Patlican Dolmasi

Dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat and aromatic rice; kuru patlican dolmasi

Dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat and aromatic rice; kuru patlican dolmasi

Have you ever had stuffed dried eggplants or peppers, kuru patlican ve biber dolmasi, in Turkey? Or ever wondered what to do with those dried eggplants beautifully displayed hanging at food stores? You are in real treat if you can get hold of them, as not only they are wonderful as a decoration (and a talking point, as I use them at my Turkish cookery classes), these dried vegetables (actually fruits, as they have seeds in them) are also scrumptious when stuffed. You are most likely served kuru patlican dolmasi, stuffed dried eggplants as a mezze at kebab houses in Turkey. You may also enjoy them at esnaf lokantalari, traditional, local Turkish restaurants, or specialty eateries like Ciya restaurant in Kadikoy, Istanbul, where they serve some of the best examples of Turkish regional cuisine.

Dried eggplants and peppers at Turkish food stores in Istanbul.

Dried eggplants and peppers at Turkish food stores in Istanbul.

Turkish cuisine is based on seasonal, fresh produce and we as a country, are blessed with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in every season. When eggplants and peppers (as well as baby okra and many others) are in abundance, some of the harvest is dried out to be used out of season. For instance, the fleshes of the eggplants (aubergines) are scooped out and the shells are tied together with a piece of string. These strings of eggplant shells are than dried out in the sun, accumulating a rich, concentrated flavor of the eggplants. You can buy these strings of dried eggplants and peppers at Turkish & Middle Eastern stores abroad.

Blanched, rehydrated dried eggplants and peppers

Blanched, rehydrated dried eggplants and peppers

In order stuff the dried eggplants and peppers, you need to blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling water to rehydrate, until they start to soften up but still retain their bite. You then need to give them a “cold bath” in a pan of cold water, so that they retain their vibrant color and texture.

Kuru Patlican ve biber dolmasi; stuffed dried pepper and eggplants

Kuru Patlican ve biber dolmasi; stuffed dried pepper and eggplants

As for the filling, I love the addition of fragrant dried mint, tangy pomegranate molasses and the rich pepper paste, biber salcasi (if you don’t have red pepper paste, you can add a delicious heat with red pepper flakes) to the stuffing mixture, as we do in southern Turkish cooking. They complement the dried eggplants and peppers beautifully, and the aromas take me right back to my hometown, Antakya. Bulgur can also be used instead of rice, as in Gaziantep cuisine and it is delicious. You can also omit the meat for a vegetarian course, and can add more onions and herbs to the filling.

I hope you can get some of these dried peppers and eggplants and enjoy these delicious dolmas. They make a great food for entertaining, a real crowd pleaser – dolmas do disappear very quickly, so I advise making a few extra! This recipe and many other delicious Turkish recipes included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, signed copies available to order at this link.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dried eggplant and pepper dolma with ground meat and spiced rice
 
I hope you enjoy these dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat, aromatic rice, pomegranate molasses and spices, a Southern Turkish specialty. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 12 dried eggplant shells & 15 dried small bell pepper shells, string removed
  • 1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 200gr/7 oz. / 1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
  • 400gr/14 oz. ground (minced) beef – or ground meat of your choice -
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste (biber salcasi) – optional
  • 15ml/ 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (or a good balsamic vinegar, for substitute)
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil (for the filling)
  • 5ml/1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10ml/2 tsp. dried mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped, as a cap (optional)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil (for cooking)
  • 500ml/ 16 fl oz. / 2 cups (or a little less) water for cooking
  • Garlicky plain yoghurt to serve
  • Turkish red pepper flakes to serve
Instructions
  1. Cut the strings of the dried eggplants and peppers and place on a large pan of boiling water. Blanch them for 3 minutes to rehydrate. Afterwards, gently place them on another pan with cold water for 2 minutes, to give them a “cold bath”; this will help them to retain their color and texture and not to break apart. Then gently place the hydrated dried peppers and eggplants in a sieve/colander, ready to be stuffed.
  2. Place the onions, garlic, pepper paste (if using), tomato paste, parsley, 1 tbsp. olive oil and spices in a large bowl. Season with salt and black ground pepper to your taste. Knead this mixture with your hands for a minute, making sure all blended well (this stage also helps to soften the onions). Stir in the ground meat, rice and pomegranate molasses to the bowl and mix well. Filling is ready.
  3. Get a wide, heavy pan for cooking and pour in the 2 tbsp. olive oil (it would be ideal to place the stuffed peppers/eggplants side by side in one layer). Spoon the filling mixture carefully into each pepper and eggplant, pressing gently for the filling to settle in. Make sure to leave about 1cm (0.4”) space at top for the rice to cook and expand. You can seal the tops with a piece of tomato as a cap or you may press the edges together for a gentle close. Place them up right, side by side, packed tightly.
  4. Pour in about 2 cups of water (or a little less) over and around the stuffed peppers and eggplants. The water should cover half length of the stuffed vegetables. Bring the liquid to the boil then reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 30 – 35 minutes or until the filling is cooked.
  5. Serve hot with Turkish red pepper flakes sprinkled over them, if you like. Thick plain yoghurt with a little crushed garlic goes very well with these stuffed eggplants and peppers. Cacik dip of cucumber, yoghurt and mint would complement these dolmas very nicely too.
Notes
You can use bulgur instead of rice. For a gluten-free option, you can use whole grain basmati rice.
You can omit ground meat for a vegetarian option. I suggest including more onions and herbs instead with extra olive oil for the vegetarian option.
 

 

 

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