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Revani; A deliciously moist, Semolina Cake in Syrup

Revani; deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup; this lighter version is still packed with flavor.

Revani; deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup; this lighter version is still packed with a lot of flavor.

My 9 year old son asked if we may bake anneanne’s (grandma’s) Revani semolina cake the other day and our heart was set. We don’t enjoy overly sweet desserts and this delicious, moist semolina sponge cake in lighter syrup has been a favorite with us. We love semolina’s grainy, nutty texture, the goodness from yoghurt and the refreshing lemony flavor in revani. I also used mild olive oil here and worked really well; lighter but still packed with a lot of flavor.

Revani has been a popular dessert with us Turks since the Ottoman Period; it is believed that the name Revani is given when the Ottomans conquered the city of Yerevan in today’s Armenia. Revani has many versions and been enjoyed in various cuisines especially in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, as well as in Turkey. I have seen the addition of rose water, orange flower water and orange zest  to revani, all sounds delicious.

My daughter's revani in cupcake; turned out wonderful!:)

My daughter’s revani cupcake; turned out wonderful!:)

Make sure to prepare the syrup ahead of time and that it is completely cool before pouring over the semolina cake, otherwise the cake gets soggy. Traditionally it is baked in a baking dish but my 6 year old daughter also wanted to make a few Revani cupcakes and they turned up rather wonderful!:) If you would like to bake revani as cupcakes, make sure to grease each cupcake shell with olive oil and not to overfill. If you are using paper cupcake shells, I suggest you to have 2 paper shells stacked together to provide a firm base, so that the batter won’t spill.

In Turkey, we like to decorate Revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut.  I hope you can give this delicious, moist revani a try, it makes any day special.

 

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 this fragrant, delicious Revani. More than a cookery book, it has personal stories from my homeland, along with beautiful photography; Signed copies are 20% OFF available to order at this link, if you’d like to copy, it is delivered worldwide. If you live in the US, Canada or Mexico, you can now order a hardback copy with reduced shipping rates here.

We hope this helps enjoying healthy, delicious Turkish recipes; it can also make a lovely gift for a foodie.

Also, here is my Revani YouTube video, hope you enjoy it:

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Serves 6 – 8

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes for the cake and 15 minutes for the syrup

165 gr/ 6oz / 1 cup coarse semolina

200gr/7oz/1 cup sugar

45ml/3 tbsp. plain flour

5ml/1 tsp. baking powder

225gr/8oz/1 cup plain (whole milk) yoghurt

3 medium eggs

60ml/ 4 tbsp. light olive oil

10ml/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon and Juice of ½ lemon

For the syrup:

300gr/10.5oz/1 ½ cup sugar

375ml/12 fl. oz. / 1 ½ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

Ground pistachio nuts and desiccated coconut to serve

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

First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan (at a medium heat). Stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and let the syrup simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the lemon juice, mix well and simmer for another 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool down while you make the semolina cake.

Grease a square or rectangular baking dish (mine was 20 cm x 27 cm – about 8”x 10”) with 2 tbsp. olive oil. First beat the eggs and the sugar in a large mixing bowl briskly for a few minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Then add the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, yoghurt, semolina, flour, the baking powder and beat well.  Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for about 25 – 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown. To check; insert a toothpick to the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, that means the cake is cooked. If not, bake for another 3-5 minutes.

Using a large spoon, drizzle the cooled syrup all over the semolina cake. Let the cake absorb the syrup and cool down. Once cool, cut the revani in square or diamond shapes; you can serve revani with ground pistachio and desiccated coconut over the top like we do in Turkey.

Revani; semolina sponge cake in syrup, delicious.

Revani; semolina sponge cake in syrup, delicious.

Revani gets even better the next day and keeps well, covered, for a good few days. In Turkey, we enjoy revani with Turkish coffee  or Cay, Turkish tea by the side.

A very memorable Turkish tea, cay, I recently enjoyed at the Sofra Restaurant, Covent Garden - London

A very memorable Turkish tea, cay, I recently enjoyed at the Sofra Restaurant, Covent Garden – London

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Dunyanin Turk Sefleri, “Turkish Chefs of the World” TV program coming up at TRT Turk – with a little part from Ozlem’s Turkish Table 🙂

Delighted to have a small part at the Turkish Chefs of the World TV program; here with Milliyet food writer Sureyya Uzmez and TRT Producer Ahmet Sabuncu

Delighted to have a small part at the Turkish Chefs of the World, “Dunyanin Turk Sefleri” TV program for TRT Turk; here with Milliyet food writer Sureyya Uzmez and TRT Producer        Ahmet Sabuncu

I was delighted to have a small yet delightful part at the Culinary TV program being shot for the Turkish TRT Turk channel, in London’s Covent Garden last weekend. TRT Turk is the Cultural – News channel of Turkey’s national TV channel, TRT, aired over 70 countries. The name of the program is Dunyanin Turk Sefleri, “Turkish Chefs of the World”, being shot in many European cities like in Vienna, Hamburg, London as well as in Japan, and more series will include shots in New York too. During the program, Milliyet Daily food writer Mr. Sureyya Uzmez aims to explore the world cuisines and the presence of Turkish cuisine within those countries. They kindly included an interview with me too at London’s Covent Garden about Turkish cuisine. We talked about the rise of natural, healthy eating globally how the Turkish cuisine fits the bill well with the emphasis on seasonality, fresh produce and artful use of spices. I also mentioned the growing interest for Turkish cuisine, thanks to you wonderful readers, and your enthusiasm to even tackle Turkish landmarks like Turkish Delight, Lokum, Simit – the sesame encrusted bread rings – , Gozleme; Anatolian stuffed flat breads and more. The program is scheduled to go on air later October – exciting times, stay tuned!:)

 

 

 

 

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Aromatic Zahtar & Feta Cheese in Puff Pastry; Inspirations from Antakya

Antakya's 2,000 years old Long Market, Uzun Carsi; home to aromatic spices, copperware and endless food stalls.

Antakya’s 2,000 years old Long Market, Uzun Carsi; home to aromatic spices, copper ware and endless food stalls.

I got wildly excited when I spotted the Zatar (or Zahtar, Za’atar, Zatar or Dukkah) spice blend at my local Waitrose the other day. I grew up with this rich, pungent spice blend in Antakya, Antioch. 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.

Pungent, tangy zahtar or za'atar blend.

Pungent, tangy zahtar or za’atar blend; adds a lot of flavor  salads, dips and marinations.

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.

Spices galore at Uzun Carsi, Long Market - Antakya

Spices galore at Uzun Carsi, Long Market – Antakya

Home made Zahtar Blend:

The exotic Zahtar blend varies region to region. According to my mother, “There are 40 different herbs, spices and nuts in the zahtar mixture.” Maybe not all the 40, but here is my mother’s home made zahtar blend that covers the basic zahtar mixture that I grew up with. It is deliciously tangy, nutty and herby. This aromatic blend adds a lot of flavor when marinating meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Zahtar blend is also wonderful in savory pastries and bread, as well as in dips:

1 tbsp. wild oregano or marjoram (or regular oregano, if the wild version not available)

1 tbsp. ground, cooked chickpeas

1 tbsp. sesame seeds

1 tbsp. ground sumac

½ tbsp. thyme

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground pistachio

1 tsp. salt (please adjust to your taste)

1 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients and mix well; I love the different textures and aroma you get in the zahtar blend. Store za’atar or zahtar in a cool, dark place in a plastic zip bag or in an airtight container. When stored properly, za’atar can be used for a good couple of months.

 Pungent Zahtar with Feta Cheese in Puff Pastry:

Aromatic Zahtar with feta cheese and tomatoes on puff pastry.

Aromatic Zahtar with feta cheese and tomatoes on puff pastry.

Bakery, Ekmek Firini, at Long Market, Uzun Carsi, Antakya.

Bakery, Ekmek Firini, at Long Market, Uzun Carsi, Antakya; locals take their filling to the bakery to be baked over the stretched baker’s dough.

I used my aromatic Zahtar blend at this easy, delicious puff pastry with feta cheese. This is my mother’s recipe and she used to prepare this filling with zahtar and we would take it to the local bakery in Antakya’s 2,000 years old Uzun Carsi (Long Market) to bake for us. I remember being mesmerized by the smells, happy childhood days. The nutty, tangy zahtar flavors the feta wonderfully and natural yoghurt adds a lovely, creamy texture. I also like the little touch of heat through the red pepper flakes, pul biber.

Serves 4 -6

Preparation time: 15 – 20 minutes                                               Cooking time: 30 minutes

320 gr / 11 oz. puff pastry (350mmx 230mm)

15ml/ 1 tbsp. natural thick yoghurt (whole milk is preferred)

30 ml/ 2 tbsp. zahtar blend

½ tsp. Turkish red pepper flakes (pul biber) or chili flakes

200gr / 7 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil

8 – 10 cherry tomatoes, coarsely sliced

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F

If using frozen puff pastry, let the pastry thaw completely, either overnight in the refrigerator or for 45 minutes at room temperature, before using it. If you are using fresh puff pastry, take out from the fridge 10 minutes before using and remove from its carton. To prevent sticking, unroll the pastry on a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin.

Mix zahtar with the feta cheese and yoghurt.

Mix zahtar with the feta cheese and yoghurt.

Combine the crumbled (you can mash the cheese with a fork) feta cheese, yoghurt, olive oil, zahtar and red pepper flakes in a bowl and mix well. For a richer & spicier taste, you can also add ½ tablespoon red pepper paste, biber salcasi to the mixture.

Spread the zahtar & feta filling over the puff pastry.

Spread the zahtar & feta filling over the puff pastry.

Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place the puff pastry sheet. Spread the zahtar & feta mixture evenly over the top and decorate with the sliced tomatoes. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry starts to turn golden and cooked thoroughly.

Puff pastry with zahtar and feta, ready to enjoy.

Puff pastry with zahtar and feta, ready to enjoy.

Serve the pastry warm immediately. This simple but delicious Shepherds Salad of Cucumbers, Tomatoes and peppers, Coban Salata, complements this pastry well.

Puff pastry with Zahtar, feta and tomatoes

Puff pastry with Zahtar, feta and tomatoes

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Ozlem’s Turkish Table at the Mommypage

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Mum and family friendly website Mommypage recently featured a wonderful interview with Ozlem’s Turkish Table;  check out to learn more about Turkish cuisine and how to make delicious and family friendly Turkish recipes from the Circassian Chicken with Walnuts to Tray kebab with roasted vegetables, from filo pastry rolls with feta to homemade baklava and more! There are also wonderful tips for all the family at Mommypage, worth checking out.

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Kayseri Style Layers of Flat Breads with Gound Meat and Vegetable, Yaglama

One of my readers wrote recently; she visited Kayseri, in Central Anatolia and greatly enjoyed this local specialty called Kayseri Usulu Yaglama; Layers of flat bread with a scrumptious ground meat and vegetable topping between each layer. She wanted to recreate this regional specialty at home and asked the recipe from me. And I am so glad she did.

Kayseri Style Layers of Flat Breads with Ground Meat and Vegetables Topping; Kayseri Usulu Yaglama

Kayseri Style Layers of Flat Breads with Ground Meat and Vegetable Topping; Kayseri Usulu Yaglama

Kayseri is truly a foodies’ heaven, nestled in Central Anatolia. Kayseri is the home of the famous manti, Turkish ravioli (tiny stuffed pastry with meat filling), Turkish cured beef, Pastrami, Pastirma, spicy Turkish cured sausage, Sucuk and many more. I have been in touch with the Turkish Culinary Historian Ms. Nevin Halici recently; Nevin Hanim says, “Yaglama is as important as Manti (Turkish ravioli) in Kayseri Cuisine”.  Kayseri also has a rich historic heritage dating back to c. 3000 BCE. I was in Kayseri a few years ago during one of my Culinary tours; the city is a mesmerizing historical settlement and the local cuisine is heavenly, so worth the trip. Kayseri also makes a great stop en route to the fascinating Cappadocia .

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Turkish flat breads form a very important part of the culinary history.

Kayseri Usulu Yaglama makes use of the flat breads that had been a part of Turkish cuisine since the 6th century. Turkish Nomads had been making flat breads while they were in Central Asia; they made their way to today’s Turkey through the centuries and haven’t stopped making these flatbreads since then! When I was a child, our neighbor (originally from Kayseri) used to make this dish and would kindly share with us (sharing food between neighbors is still a very much alive tradition at home, which I love). My mother then learned how to make it from her neighbor and we greatly enjoyed this dish during my childhood.

Layers of deliciousness; Kayseri Usulu Yaglama; layers of flat bread with ground meat sauce

Layers of deliciousness; Kayseri Usulu Yaglama; layers of flat bread with ground meat sauce

This lovely dish consists of layering the flat breads, Sebit, as they are called in Kayseri, with the filling of cooked ground meat, onions and tomatoes between each layer.  Once stacked on top of another, it is cut in four pieces and served with garlic yoghurt. It makes a wonderful party food to share with friends and family. My children absolutely loved it and they helped making the flat breads; a great way to get the children interested in food preparation and also passing on traditions and recipes.  My son said’ “It is a bit like stacked lahmacun, though it is lighter and there are more of them!” True, it looks a bit like lahmacun, though the filling and the base flat breads are cooked separately.

Kayseri Usulu Yaglama; layers of flat bread with delicious ground meat sauce, great for sharing!

Kayseri Usulu Yaglama; layers of flat bread with delicious ground meat sauce, great for sharing!

The original recipe calls for the Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi; this paste will add a lot of flavor to the sauce if you prefer to add.  You can also use these flat breads to enjoy delicious mezzes like this Walnut and red pepper paste dip.

I am passionate about healthy, delicious Turkish cuisine; over 90 authentic Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies are now 30 % OFF at this link and delivered worldwide, including the US and Canada.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Serves 4 -6 generously (makes 11 flatbreads of about 23cm/9” each)

For the dough:

460 gr/1 lb./4 cups plain flour

7gr/2tsp. dry yeast

3 tbsp./45 ml olive oil

2 tsp./10 ml sea salt

300ml/10 fl oz. warm water

For the meat & vegetables sauce:

500gr/1lb 2 oz. ground beef

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

2 large onions, finely chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 medium tomato, finely chopped

15 ml/ 1 tbsp. concentrated tomato puree

10 ml/ 2 tsp. Turkish hot pepper paste (optional)

300 ml/12 fl. Oz/ 1 ½ cup water

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Plain or garlic yoghurt to serve

Leave the dough to rest and rise for 45 minutes.

Leave the dough to rest and rise for 45 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast and mix well. Stir in the olive oil and warm water and knead into a soft dough by hand (if it’s sticky, you may need a little extra flour to shape the dough). My mother says, “the dough needs to be of ear lop softness” – kulak memesi kivaminda olacak – As  expected, we also have a saying for the consistency of the dough in Turkish 🙂 Cover the dough with a dish cloth and leave to rest and rise at a warm spot for 45 minutes or until it doubles the size.

Ground meat and vegetables filling for the yaglama; make sure there is generous liquid in it.

Ground meat and vegetables filling for the yaglama; make sure there is generous liquid in it.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Stir in the onions and garlic, cook until soft for a few minutes. Add the ground beef and cook for 2-3 minutes, mixing well. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato and red pepper paste (if using) and combine well. Add the water and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover, turn the heat to medium to low and cook for about 30 minutes. Once all is cooked, stir in the chopped parsley, give them all a good mix and turn the heat off (at this stage you can also check the seasoning to your taste). The filling needs to  have quite  a bit of liquid to cover the flat breads so add a little more water if needed.

). On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a thin, round circles of about 23cm -9” in diameter.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a thin, round circles of about 23cm -9” in diameter.

Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into 11 pieces and roll into 11 small balls (each about a size of a small tangerine). On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a thin, round circles of about 23cm -9” in diameter. Dust each of these circles with flour so they don’t stick together and keep them covered with a damp towel so that they won’t dry out.

Cook the flat breads on a wide non-stick pan or griddle.

Cook the flat breads on a wide non-stick pan or griddle.

Cook the flat breads on a wide non-stick pan or griddle, flipping over them as they begin to go brown and buckle. Pile them on a plate.

spread a thin layer of the ground meat Spread a thin layer of sauce over the flat bread and place and place another flat bread on top.

Spread a thin layer of the ground meat sauce over the flat bread and place and place another flat bread on top.

Now it is time to assemble the dish. Place a flat bread on a wide, circle serving dish and spread a thin layer of the ground meat sauce over. Then place another flat bread on top and spread the sauce again; continue this layering until all the flat breads are finished with the remaining of the sauce spread at top.

Cut the Yaglama all the way through into 4 equal pieces and enjoy!

Cut the Yaglama all the way through into 4 equal pieces and enjoy!

Cut the Yaglama all the way through into 4 equal pieces, and serve immediately. A few spoonfuls of garlic yoghurt goes very well with this dish. (For garlic yoghurt; simply crush and finely chop a clove of garlic into a cup of plain yoghurt and season with salt to your taste).

Delicious, melt-in-the-mouth Yaglama, Kayseri Style.

Delicious, melt-in-the-mouth Yaglama, Kayseri Style.

 Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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