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Tag Archives | zahtar

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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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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A refreshingly delicious Baked Chicken with Summer Vegetables, Chickpeas, Lemon Pepper & touch of Zahtar

Tangy, refreshing lemon, packed with goodness.

Tangy, refreshing lemon, packed with goodness.

I am a huge lemon fan; love its refreshing, tangy flavor and lemon is a welcome addition to most of the dishes I enjoy. My dear friend Hande knows my soft spot for lemons and she made us a delicious chicken course using this lemon pepper blend while we stayed with them in Houston. It was my first time to try this blend and I greatly enjoyed it.

Lemon pepper spice blend; delicious on fish, poultry and vegetables.

Lemon pepper spice blend; delicious on fish, poultry and vegetables.

Lemon pepper blend consists of good sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, lemon peel, garlic and onion. It is wonderful on fish and equally as good on chicken, turkey and vegetables. The spice store Penzeys  have it; alternatively, you can also make your own.

Baked chicken with summer vegetables and lemon pepper; a delicious main course you can prepare ahead of time.

Baked chicken with summer vegetables and lemon pepper; a delicious main course you can prepare ahead of time.

Hande kindly gave me some extra lemon pepper seasoning and we recently made this delicious baked chicken with summer vegetables. Runner beans, or string beans or taze fasulye are in season until about October and they are delicious in this dish. Peppers, zucchini, tomato all worked well here with the tangy lemon pepper. I also added some cooked chickpeas here, as commonly used in Southern Turkish cooking, like in this stuffed zucchini/courgettes with ground meat, tomatoes, onions and chickpeas recipe. It turned out to be a wholesome, delicious meal, (late) summer on a plate. An easy, wonderful casserole you can prepare ahead of time and leftovers freeze very well.

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

Serves 2-4

Preparation time: 35 minutes                   Cooking time: 45 minutes

450 gr./1lb chicken breast, cut into small chunks

175gr/6oz. runner beans (or string beans)

2 small zucchini (courgette), cut in half and sliced

2 onions, chopped coarsely

4-6 garlic cloves, diced

3 small bell peppers (green, yellow and red), deseeded and cut into chunks

400gr/14oz. -1 can of chopped tomatoes

400gr/14oz; 1 can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

240ml/8 fl. oz. /1 cup water

To marinate the chicken:

Juice of 1 lemon

15ml/1 tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning (*)

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

(*) To make your own lemon pepper seasoning:

Zest of 1 lemon

10ml/ 2 tsp. sea salt (you can have if you prefer)

5ml/1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 To serve:

Turkish red pepper flakes/ Pul Biber

Plain rice

To make your own lemon pepper; combine the lemon zest with sea salt and freshly ground pepper, ready to season the chicken (I didn’t add garlic and onion to this blend, as I used plenty onions and garlic at the chicken bake).

In a bowl, combine the lemon pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and rub this mixture to the chicken pieces, mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or so that the flavors can blend.

Summer on a plate; runner beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini taste delicious in this chicken casserole.

Summer on a plate; runner beans, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini taste delicious in this chicken casserole.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare your vegetables. Top and tail the beans and pull away any strings and cut into 3-4 pieces. I also like to cut them in half into thin strips. Combine the rest of the vegetables in a baking dish, stir in the olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Place the marinated chicken in a heavy pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes to seal their juice. Turn the heat off.

Stir in the sautéed chicken to the vegetables mix and add the chopped tomatoes and water. Give them all a good mix. Bake in the pre-heated oven, uncovered for about 35 minutes.

About 35 minutes later, stir in the rinsed, cooked chickpeas to the mixture, combine well. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the chicken and vegetables starting to turn nicely golden brown on top.

Chicken casserole with summer vegetables, chickpeas and lemon pepper; a delicious and wholesome main course

Chicken casserole with summer vegetables, chickpeas and lemon pepper; a delicious and wholesome main course

If you like a little heat like we do, sprinkle some Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber on the finished dish, just before you serve.

Here is my plate! This baked chicken with vegetables make a delicious, complete meal with plain rice and natural yoghurt by the side.

Here is my plate! This baked chicken with vegetables make a delicious, complete meal with plain rice and natural yoghurt by the side.

You can serve your baked chicken with summer vegetables with plain rice and natural plain yoghurt aside. Cacik, the cucumber yoghurt dip with mint  would also be a delicious accompaniment.

Aromatic Zahtar blend of sumac, wild oregano, sesame seeds and more;  it adds a lot of flavor to vegetables, meat and poultry.

Aromatic Zahtar blend of sumac, wild oregano, sesame seeds and more; it adds a lot of flavor to vegetables, meat and poultry.

Recently, we also enjoyed this chicken and vegetables bake with the aromatic zahtar sprinkled over too. Za’atar is an 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. Here is more information on zahtar and how to make your zahtar blend at home.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

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