Turkish cuisine today reflects this cultural heritage. It lays emphasis on seasonal freshness. I have found that while in Bodrum, even in the large supermarkets , if it is not in season I cannot buy it.
One of the delights of Turkish cuisine is Meze. Meze, like Spanish tapas, are lots of little things. Now served in restaurants as an entree they consist of appetisers, dips and salads. The word meze, originally from the Persian word mesaq means "taste, flavour snack, relish"
Here are a few of the recipes I used for the meze I cooked for my book club recently.
Acı Domates Ezmesi - Crushed Chilli and Tomato Dip.
6 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 small cucumber, grated
4 spring onions , finely chopped
6 garlic cloves crushed
grated lemon rind
Juice of half a lemon or 1tbs of sour pomegranate syrup
1tsp paprika paste
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs tomato paste
handful of each of chopped fresh parsley, and mint ( 1 tsp of dried mint if fresh unavailable)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt and black pepper to taste.
Place tomatoes and cucumber in a sieve, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for half an hour. Combine all the ingredients and give quick blitz in a blender taking care not to over pulverize. Chill and serve with fresh crusty bread.
Haydarı - Mint and Yogurt Dip
4 cups thick strained yogurt
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 tbs finely chopped mint (1 tbs dried mint) dill can be used instead or a combination of both.
1 cucumber grated and drained
squeeze of lemon juice.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Chill. To serve, place on a plate, garnish with fresh mint leaves, pour a little extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with crushed chilli flakes. Serve with fresh crusty bread.
Pancar Ezme - Beetroot Dip.
4 cooked Beetroot
1 tbs chopped dill
1-2 cloves garlic
1 cup thick natural yogurt
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
Puree beets and garlic. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. Place in a serving dish and serve with fresh bread.
Sarımsaklı Kozlenmıs Kırmızı Biber - Roasted Red Peppers with Garlic.
3 red bell peppers
2-3 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbs cider vinegar
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the peppers, cut in half, remove tops and seeds. Place under the grill for 15 mins approx. In the meantime whisk the ingredients for the sauce.
Remove the skin from the peppers. Slice them in large chunks. Place on a serving plate, Pour sauce over and garnish with some finely chopped parsley.
Fırında Nar Eksili Soğan - Roasted Onion with Pomegranate Paste
Red onion cut into 4-6 chunks.
Salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F
Place the onion on an earthenware dish. season with salt and pepper. Drizzle some pomegranate paste over them. Place in the middle of the oven and cook until the onion is tender.
Kısır Salad - Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad
2 cups fine bulgur wheat
11/2 cups boiling water
1tbs tomato paste
2 tsp paprika paste
1 tsp paprika flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbs sur pomegranate paste or juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tbs olive oil
4 spring onions, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
handful of finely chopped parsley,
handful of finely chopped mint
freshly ground black pepper.
lettuce leaves to serve
lemon wedges to squeeze over
Put the bulgur in a bowl and add the boiling water. Leave to stand for 20 min. Most of the water should be absorbed. Drain and squeeze out any excess water if necessary. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.
Stir in the tomato and red pepper pastes, paprika flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and knead thoroughly. Add the pomegranate paste together with the olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine well. Refrigerate until required.
To serve, take spoonfuls and place in individual lettuce leaves. Garnish with lemon wedges to squeeze over.
Sigara Böreği - Crispy Cheese and Herb Filled Pastry Rolls
2 sheets yufka/filo pastry
225gr soft white Turkish cheese e.g. Lor / feta cheese.
2 egg yolks
1 cup chopped parsley, mint and dill.
salt and black pepper to taste.
Sunflower oil for cooking.
Mix together the cheese, egg yolks and herbs to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper.
Yufka, a Turkish pastry, comes in large circular sheets. Place on sheet on top of the other and cut the sheets into eights forming 16 elongated triangles.(If using filo cut into 16 elongated rectangles)
Take one triangle, place a generous tsp of the cheese mixture at the wider end.
Fold the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture and then roll up tightly like a cigar. Wet the end with water and seal. Do the same for the rest of the triangles, keeping the finished ones covered with a damp cloth to prevent the pastry drying out. Refrigerate until required.
Heat the sunflower oil i a shallow pan and fry the cheese rolls over a medium heat until golden brown and crispy. Alternatively brush with oil and place in a pre-heated oven at 180C and bake for 20 mins.
As usual, I forgot to take photos of what I had cooked so I found these pictures on the net. Most of the recipes I used come from either Angie Mitchell's Secrets of a Turkish Kitchen or from Binnur's Turkish Cookbook.
They went down a treat, with the Crushed Chilli and Tomato Dip being the favourite. Main course will be next. Do you have a favourite recipe you would like to share?