This salad is a rich paste made with chicken, walnuts, stock and breadcrumbs. It is delicious spread on bread, oatcakes and other savoury biscuits. I got this recipe from Cookistan, when we were on holiday in Istanbul.
The Circassians were a tribal people who lived in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea, north east of modern Turkey. They were part of the Ottoman Empire, and the dish has made its way into modern Turkish cookery.
2 chicken breasts, poached in 1 litre of well-seasoned stock
4 cloves of garlic
200g panko breadcrumbs, or other dried breadcrumbs
4 tbsp mayonnaise
12 tbsp plain yoghurt
Chopped dill, optional
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp sweet paprika, to taste
2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to taste (quite a lot of salt and pepper)
6 teaspoons paprika (sweet)
Garnish: 1 tsp paprika in olive oil and whole walnut halves
Cool the poached chicken, and strain and reserve the stock.
Shred the cooked chicken breast very finely.
Roughly crush the walnuts and finely crush the garlic.
Soften the breadcrumbs with stock to make a soft paste.
Add the chicken, olive oil, mayonnaise, yoghurt, cumin, paprika dill, and salt and pepper to make a paste, and stir in the walnuts and garlic. Check the seasoning; this needs quite a bit of salt to bring out the flavour.
Garnish with 1 tsp paprika fried in 1 tbsp olive oil, walnut halves, and chopped dill.
Turkish savoury pastries come in many flavours and shapes, using different pastries, fillings, styles and cooking techniques. These Borecik roses were one of the dishes we made in Istanbul, when we participated in the Cookistan cookery school.
The pastry that we used was prepared in a small shop in a traditional way, sold as large round circles of thin and pliable pastry. These sheets are called yufka, and are a bit more robust than filo pastry. They are available from Turkishop, but you could substitute filo.
1 sheet of yufka
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
250g plain yoghurt
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
Cut the sheet of pastry into four.
Kneed the meat with the onions, pepper and salt.
Mix the milk with the olive oil, and use this to wet one side of the sheet of pastry.
Put a quarter of the mince mixture in a line along the curved edge of each segment of the pastry sheet. Roll the sheet around the mince to form a snake. These snake pastries can be frozen for use later, handy for making a feast at short notice.
Coil each snake to make a snail shape.
Put the snail shapes onto a greased baking sheet, brush with beaten egg, and bake in the oven at 200C for 35 to 40 minutes.
To serve, mix yoghurt and garlic, and put a dollop on the top of each pastry.
Next, melt the butter and fry the chilli flakes, and drizzle this on top of the yoghurt.
This is the first of several recipes from Turkey, from our cooking class at Cookistan. I was really impressed with the quality of food that we produced. Some of these recipes are seasonal, so if you were to book with them, you’re sure to learn something new.
We made stuffed dried aubergines, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgettes. The dried aubergines, pepper puree and vine leaves are available from Turkishop online, but peppers, beef tomatoes, or onions could be used.
8 dried aubergines, or 8 good sized courgettes, or a jar of vine leaves in brine. If you can’t get vine leaves, then chard leaves would do.
50g rice or fine bulgar wheat
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp pepper puree
salt and pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of water
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes
1 handful of chopped parsley
Plain yoghurt to serve (you could add garlic, salt and pepper to the yoghurt)
If you are using dried aubergines, these need to be soaked in boiling water for around 5 minutes. They need to be weighed down to ensure they are completely submerged, and then rinsed in cold water. If you are using courgettes, use a teaspoon, melon baller (or a special Turkish courgette knife) to hollow them out. First, cut them in half across the way, not lengthways, and trim the end to make them steady to stand up in the pan. Then, hollow them out carefully. Other vegetables can be prepared in a similar way.
Mix all the other ingredients, and mix them together with your hands.
Stuff the vegetables to about 3/4 full. During the cooking, the rice expands, so you need to leave a little bit of room.
To stuff vine leaves, put each leaf shiny side down with the pointy bits pointing away. Put a line of mince about the size of your little finger across the bottom of the vine leaf. Start rolling the leaf round the mince, working away from you, folding in the sides as you go. There are lots of versions on youtube to check for the method.
Put the stuffed vegetables in a casserole dish large enough for them all to fit with the open ends up. Put a plate over the top to keep them in place, smaller than the pan. Pour in around 500ml boiling water, and simmer the vegetables until they are cooked, around 45 minutes.
Serve as a meze dish with yoghurt flavoured with garlic.
We are about to go on holiday to Istanbul, so I was looking at Turkish recipes. This caught my eye, as I had a couple of green peppers from Tagsa Uist Grow your Community at East Camp. Very tasty, very easy.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 small green peppers, halved, seeded and sliced.
2 dried chilli peppers, crushed
400g can of chopped tomatoes
Could include herbs such as thyme, oregano, spices such as cumin
Sour cream or greek yoghurt
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, and add the onions, then the garlic, and then the pepper and chillies. Fry slowly until the onions are soft.
Add the tomatoes and any additional herbs and spices, and simmer slowly to reduce the mixture. Season with salt and pepper
Make 4 holes in the mixture, and into each hole, crack an egg. Cover the pan and cook slowly for around 5 minutes to cook the eggs. (You can scramble the eggs into the mixture as an alternative.)
Beat the yogurt or sour cream with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the menemen with parsley, and serve from the pan with the yoghurt or sour cream.
I can hardly wait to tell you about this recipe, or to eat it again. It is delicious, and dangerously garlicky, so I think I will be in trouble at work tomorrow. I made it with tinned beans, but the original recipe starts from scratch. I got the recipe from the remarkable book, Nightingales and Roses. These are recipes from all over Iran, organised by seasonal availability of ingredients. Where she wins over my other current favourite book, Jerusalem, is her serving suggestions.
1 can of cannellini or borlotti beans
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small bulb of garlic, with the cloves peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp of dill seed, or 5 tsp dried dill weed, or 30g fresh dill, chopped
salt, to taste
Melt the butter in a medium lidded frying pan, add the oil and then the chopped garlic, and fry until the garlic is turning golden.
Add the turmeric, pepper, dill, and salt, and then add the can of beans including the water they are in.
Bring to a simmer, and cook, until the mixture is getting drier and thicker.
Make 4 wells in the bean mixture, and into each well, break an egg. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
The book suggests serving this with a little rice, with side dishes of olives, chopped radishes, smoked fish. We were not so dainty, and served this with a side salad with herbs and some bread, olives and labneh.
This is another recipe from Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi. It fits well with my lifestyle in summer; food that can be put in the oven, and then served hot or cold, straight away or for the next meal, part of a large meal or just as a light lunch.
1 Large butternut squash.
3 red onions
50ml olive oil
3 tbsp light tahini paste (available locally!)
1.5 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 clove of garlic, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar (from Seasoned pioneers)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 240C gas mark 9
Cut the onions and butternut squash into wedges. I peeled and cut each onion into 6-8 wedges. I cut the squash into 3 equal bits across the way, and then cut each bit into 6-8 wedges, measuring around 2cm by 6cm. Remove the seeds.
Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, and add 3 tbsp of olive oil, stir to coat, and then add 1 tsp salt, black pepper and mix well.
Spread the onions and squash onto a baking tray, and turn the squash skin-side down.
Roast in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a small bowl and a fork to mix the tahini with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp water, crushed garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt. The mixture should be runny, like honey.
Pour a little olive oil into a pan, and toast the pine nuts over a medium heat with a pinch of salt. Stir, keeping a close eye, until the pine nuts are toasty brown. Transfer to a small bowl.
Put the roast vegetables onto a serving platter, drizzle over with the tahini dressing, sprinkle over with the toasted pine-nuts in oil, and then sprinkle over the za’atar and chopped parsley.
I enjoyed this better when cooled down to a warm dish, rather than hot. Also good cold the next day.
I have tried many recipes for ratatouille, this is the best. I think I got it off the internet, with a promise that this was the most authentic.
1 aubergine, diced
4 courgettes, halved and sliced
300g french beans, cut to 1 inch lengths
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves
fresh basil leaves, torn
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt the diced aubergines and courgettes and set aside. Rinse the salt off after 20 minutes (I do this in a colander)
Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.
Add the aubergines and courgettes, and cook for another five minutes or so.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, and then with the lid off for 20 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir occasionally, to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
This freezes OK, but it is best reheated the day after making it.