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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Kabak Tatlisi – Candied Pumpkin

Fall is over already and yet, I am not over with pumpkins and chestnuts. I even invested in a handful of pumpkin seeds which I’ll be planting this summer and hopefully enjoying my mini-pumpkins end of next year, here is a picture of what I am hoping to achieve:

For now, I’ll have to suffice with squares of candied winter squash, Turkish style of course. Some recipes from the southern part of Turkey also call for soaking the pumpkin slices into edible lime before cooking, so that the dessert turns translucent and attains a crunchy feel when cooked. This recipe here is the wider used version. (more…)

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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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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Hunkar Pilavi – Pilaf With Lamb, Pistachios and Black Currants

The other day, I decided to try a recipe from a book by Ozge Samanci and Sharon Croxford. If any of you guys remember, that is the book my husband bought for me on my birthday. It’s called XIX. Yuzyil Istanbul Mutfagi which translates into “19th Century Istanbul Cuisine”. I ended up playing around with the amounts and the ingredients, but still this recipe is inspired by the above-mentioned book.

Ingredients:

3.5 cups of water

300 g (around a cup) of boneless lamb meat, cut into walnut-size cubes

100 g of clarified butter (regular butter would be fine too)

A handful of pistachio nuts, shells removed

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Zeytinyagli Portakalli Kereviz – Celeriac Braised in Olive Oil and Orange Juice

Celeriac is the root of what is called “celery”. In my university years, in Sydney, I hadn’t seen celeriac anywhere for quite a long time,  then one day I came across this non-starchy root vegetable in the vegie isle of a supermarket. As soon as I saw this prince charming hid in the form of an ugly frog, I started jumping up and down like a child. At the check out, I noticed that something was wrong, as the girl kept skipping my lovely celeriac and finished checking out everything else I bought. Then she said she would be back in a minute and left. When she returned, she seemed quite anxious, turned to me and said “please don’t get me wrong, what do you call this thing? I tried to find it in the isle but no luck “, she obviously thought that I would be offended by her ignorance of our cultural habit of eating this weird substance. I smiled and replied, celeriac, celery-root in other words. She was relieved by my calm reaction, glad that I didn’t turn out to be the furious Muslim she was afraid that I was.

Anyhoo, another time at the same supermarket checkout, an old lady asked me about how I prepared “this thing”. I gave her a quick recipe of this olive oil dish and she seemed happy, she said “there is one other Polish lady buying this, I haven’t seen anyone else”. I don’t know how the Polish make this into a dish, but my favorite is an olive oil based recipe.

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Cerkes Tavugu – Circassian Chicken

The answer to what makes Ottoman cuisine so special lies in the wide variety of influences ranging from the Caucasus to the Balkans, from Niles to Euphrates… Even Chinese cuisine had an impact on the Ottomans, as Turks brought an over-1000-year-old heritage from the steppes of Central Asia where they were in close contact with the Chinese. Cuisines of the Caucasus region appear as one of the hundreds of influences within the Ottoman cuisine. Georgian, Laz and Circassian people (one might want to include Armenians and Azeris as well) and their unique ways of preparing food is quite distinctive. Circassian chicken, contrary to what its name suggests, has more likely originated from Georgian territories and is a widely-known dish in today’s Turkey.

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Sucuklu Yumurta – Eggs With Sujuk

Sujuk or soudjouk is Turkish sausages, somewhat like Hungarian sausages, sujuk smells and tastes very much like those. Here is a Sunday brunch classic: Eggs With Sujuk. If there is nice and fresh bread accompanying this dish, nothing can compare to it, especially in winter mornings. Sujuk is available in Turkish grocery shops in most Western countries, particularly in suburbs  populated mostly by Turks. It keeps quite long in the fridge too.

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