Balik Corbasi – Fish Soup

Balik Corbasi - Fish Soup

It’s definitely not the best time of year to crave fish, but I can’t help it. Period. Those cravings would not be satisfied with frozen or farmed fish and I’m not an easy going person when it comes to less than perfect food. ‘Perfect’ fish is a bit expensive around this time of year, so the best thing to make with it is a fish soup, of course Ottoman style. In certain parts of the Black Sea region this recipe is still very common, with generous amounts of lemon juice and a hint of saffron, just like it used to be served in the Ottoman Palace. I’ve met a lot of people who fell in love with this soup at first sip, even those who claim to not like seafood. Here is the guide to your ‘Love at first sip’!

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Hasanpasa Kofte – Meatballs topped with potato purée

I know, I’ve been the laziest blogger lately, but I am back and full of hope that you my dear readers will forgive me. It’s already May and spring isn’t here yet, around 10 degrees Celsius in Istanbul, the humidity makes it feel even colder, there is even snow in some other parts of the country.

I’ve been sick for almost 4 times in a row, each episode lasted like 10-15 days with horrible sore throat and fever. Oh spring, please come, before antibiotics destroy my body and everything “bio” in it.

Yesterday, with all this in mind I decided that eating more fish would do me good and convinced my husband and sister to go to Garipce, a small village that lies along Bosphorus’ shoreline, near the north end where the strait meets the Black Sea, to have  pan-fried Black Sea turbot, my favorite, well, one amongst a dozen of my favorites.

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Piyaz – Lima Bean Salad With Olive Oil, Sumac and Tahini

Spring is around the corner and one of the most exciting things about spring, to me, is a generous serving of kofte eaten outdoors accompanied by the sea-view and iodine smell. The best thing to go with that drizzling kofte (meatballs) platter is piyaz. Kofte-piyaz duo is like the Laurel & Hardy of Turkish Cuisine and of course ayran (the infamous yogurt drink) always accompanies the feast.

There are various ways to make piyaz, here goes my favorite:

Ingredients:

2 cups of dried lima beans, soaked overnight, then boiled in 3 liters of salted water, or 400-500 g canned beans

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Zeytinyagli Pirasa – Leeks In Olive Oil

This olive oil dish can be found on the dinner tables of most Turkish homes quite frequently at all times of the year. Just like her cousins, onion and garlic, leeks have antiseptic qualities. What’s more interesting about these long, sleek, layered tubes is that during Roman times a variant of this vegetable with opium-like qualities was consumed at the end of dinner to induce sleep. Turks, people of the Ottoman land in wider terms, also serve this olive oil braised leek dish at the end of meals. I don’t know if there is any connection between the two cuisines, Ottoman and Roman (if there is such thing) so to speak, but I should note that Ottoman Sultans, starting from Mehmet II the Conqueror, held the title “Kayser” (meaning Ceasar), referring to the Ottoman rule as the heir to Eastern Roman Empire.

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Zeytinyagli Lahana Sarma – Cabbage Rolls In Olive Oil

While I was in college, in Sydney, away from home, the idea of cabbage rolls in olive oil or  manti (sorta Turkish ravioli) would always bring that homesickness monster out which would torment me for a few hours once it stroke. Those few hours would then result in attempts of making one of the core traditional dishes of Turkish cuisine. None would turn out perfect, not even close, thanks to the ingredient quality! Still, it would be enough to calm me for a few months until another homesickness attack arrived. Last week, thinking of those days, I felt very grateful for being able to find the perfect cabbages for rolling these gorgeous sarma in the picture. No veins, lots of thin large leaves which beautifully held the rice filling… What more could I ask for? Here is how I made the sarma:

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Etli Yaprak Sarma – Stuffed Vine Leaves With Meat

Here comes another star of a typical Turkish feast: Etli Yaprak Sarma – Stuffed Vine Leaves, this time  not in olive oil, but cooked in a rich tomato and butter sauce with a delicious meat and rice stuffing. When people click on our link through Foodista.com on Wednesday (remember we are going to be the featured blog of that day), I want them to land at this post. What do you think? It feels like I am hosting a dinner party and it’s important to greet the guests with our nicest offering.

Ingredients:

60-70 grape vine leaves (fresh leaves are better, those in brine are OK)

2 medium size yellow onions, finely chopped or grated,

1/2 kg of ground beef+lamb, (around 10-15% fat would be fine)

1 1/2 cups of rice,

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Kestaneli Pilav – Rice with Chestnuts

You can make this with either rice or bulghur, as both produce great results. I prefer using chunks of turkey meat when making this pilaf with bulghur and if using rice, lamb meat suits better to the dish. You can also cook this pilaf as a filling for turkey, if so, I’d recommend substituting a handful of black currants with carrots.

Ingredients:

15-20 chestnuts,

250-300 g of lamb/turkey meat, cut into 3-4 cm cubes,

100 g clarified butter/ghee (regular butter would be OK),

2 carrots, julienne or cubes,

1 teaspoon of allspice powder,

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Soganli Yumurta – Eggs With Onion

 

I’ve been the laziest food blogger for the last few weeks. Sorry about making you, my dear readers, stare at a couple of meatballs and gherkins for weeks. I have some good news that, maybe, compensate for my failure to post as often as I should. Ottoman Cuisine has been selected as the ‘featured blog of the day’ on Foodista.com. On December the 8th, our blog will be featured on the main page of Foodista.

I chose to celebrate the news with a very Ottoman recipe. This recipe has been revived in the last couple of years from the dusty pages of palace kitchen records. Seems very simple, cook the onions, crack the eggs, sprinkle with spices, you’re good to go? No, not so much. The original recipe calls for 4 to 6 hours of work with a lot of attention to detail. This recipe was a Ramadan specialty in palace kitchen. They say, especially on the 15th day of Ramadan, chefs from Enderun (an educational institution within Ottoman palace) prepared this dish and served it to the Sultan. If the Sultan approved the dish, the head chef of Enderun would be assigned kilercibasi (head butler) to the palace, one of the highest ranking personnel of the palace kitchen.

Here is what I like about this recipe: If you are patient enough and pay attention to each step and choose the finest ingredients, it is hard to go wrong. You do not need to be crafty, so you are not running much risk there.

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Kasarli Kofte – Beef/Lamb Patties with Kashar Cheese

Eid is almost here. In Istanbul, people are running around in a crazy pace to complete their preparations for the upcoming festive days. Shopping, cleaning, cooking, last minute travel arrangements.

Today, I woke up around 7 (very unusual for me on a Sunday morning) to pick up the cleaning lady. I helped her and together we made our flat squeaky clean. Usually, as soon as the cleaning is over I declare martial law at our place, no walking around with wet hands, no water drops on the bathroom mirror, no nothing nowhere! Poor hubs has to abide by my rules at those times, as acting any differently will result in nasty repercussions.

Anyways, I was as happy as a clam at high tide when we finished cleaning, until my husband almost puked on the carpet. I have to admit I was sorry that he was sick, sorrier that the happy-clean feeling was over. Apparently he had food poisoning, as anything could poison him, even chips, pickles and things like that. We had to rush to the hospital, spent the evening there. Thank God he is alright now, sleeping peacefully. I tease him by saying, “see your tummy is now so used to having high-quality meals served by me and it won’t accept anything lesser”.

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Firinda Nohut Yemegi – Garbanzo Beans Baked In Tomato Sauce

A warm, winter comfort food: Beans and tomato. Good complex carbs, protein and fiber to support your digestive system.

In Turkey, beans are one of those things that miraculously unite all people. Rich and poor, religious or not, city dwellers and people from rural areas, no matter who you are, there is one common food that everyone misses a lot when abroad: Beans in a rich tomato sauce, served with rice and ayran (yogurt drink). Some like it soupy, some prefer thicker consistency varieties. Most favor lima beans over garbanzo, my favorite is by far garbanzo beans.

You can make delicious garbanzo beans baked in tomato sauce at home if you follow these steps:

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