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Tag Archives | bulgur

Baked Zucchini (courgette) halves with vegetables and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) -Nohutlu Kabak Dolmasi

I previously made the delicious stuffed zucchini halves with ground meat, vegetables and chickpeas or garbanzo beans, inspired by my home town, Antioch’s (Antakya) cuisine. I was asked for a vegetarian version of this dish during my Turkish cookery class past Saturday and there came this delicious dish. The meaty mushrooms, onions, peppers made a scrumptious filling and worked so well with chickpeas. With a touch of heat by the Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi & Turkish red pepper flakes and the refreshing dried mint, we had an at least equally delicious vegetarian stuffed zucchini that we all very much enjoyed.

Stuffed zucchini with onions, mushrooms, pepper and chickpeas, in tomato sauce

Stuffed zucchini with onions, mushrooms, pepper and chickpeas, in tomato sauce

I also used a little pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi, to add a delicious sweet & sour taste to the zucchini halves. Pomegranate molasses is used a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine in salad dressings like in this Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts or in bulgur wheat salad, kisir; a little bit of it adds a great punch.

You can prepare this healthy dish ahead of time and the leftovers freeze beautifully. Please save the flesh of the zucchini or courgettes that you scooped out. They are delicious & wholesome cooked with onions, tomatoes & dried mint in this bulgur pilaf .

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes                                                Cooking time: 50-55 minutes

3 chunky zucchini/courgette

200gr/7oz chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped

200gr/7oz (1/2 can of) chopped tomatoes

200gr/7oz (1/2 can of) cooked chickpeas, rinsed

15ml/1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi (optional)

30ml/2tablespoons olive oil

240ml/8fl oz./ 1cup water

15ml/1 tbsp. tomato paste

5 ml / 1 tsp. Turkish red pepper paste – optional-

10ml/2 tsp. dried mint

5ml/1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To serve:

120ml/8fl oz. plain yoghurt

1-2 garlic cloves, crushed with salt and finely chopped

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

carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff

Carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff

Cut the zucchini in half and then in lengthways. Using a dessert spoon, carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff the filling (Please save the flesh of the zucchini that you scooped out. They are delicious cooked in bulgur pilaf). Mix 2 tbsp. water with the pomegranate molasses (if using) and wash the inside of the courgettes with this mixture; this adds a delicious sweet & sour taste to the zucchini.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) combined with vegetables make a delicious filling

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) combined with vegetables make a delicious filling

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until light golden. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper and hot pepper paste (if using). Season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and the cooked chickpeas, mix well. Add the red pepper flakes and the dried mint, combine well. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off; the filling is ready.

Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini halves.

Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini halves.

Grease a baking tray with 1 tbsp. olive oil and place the scooped zucchini. Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini halves, taking care not to over fill them. Dilute the tomato paste with the water and pour on the tray. Cover and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. After this, uncover and bake for a further 10 minutes for a lightly brown finish.

While the zucchini halves are baking, prepare your garlic yoghurt. In a bowl, mix the plain yoghurt with the chopped garlic. Serve the stuffed zucchini hot, with the garlic yoghurt by the side. You can make this wonderful bulgur pilaf using the flesh of the zucchini we scooped out; they complement each very nicely and you get a complete meal.

Baked zucchini halves with vegetables & chickpeas; great with garlic yoghurt aside

Baked zucchini halves with vegetables & chickpeas; great with garlic yoghurt aside

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Istanbul is Calling!

Turkish tea, Cay, Simit and Istanbul's Bosphorus; a heavenly combination

Turkish tea, Cay, Simit and Istanbul’s Bosphorus; a heavenly combination

Indeed Istanbul is calling and I can hardly wait! I will be in Istanbul next week, the city that makes my heart beats fast, a feast to all senses. Greatly looking forward to seeing family, friends and feeling the beat of this fascinating city.

The very atmospheric Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbul - feast to all senses

The very atmospheric Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbul – feast to all senses

I also very much look forward to sharing delicious Turkish cuisine with food lovers at my Turkish cookery class on Wednesday, 19th February at the Istanbul Culinary Institute. I will be in touch soon with delicious memories from home!

With my best wishes, Selamlar,

Ozlem

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From Menemen to Izmir Kofte; delicious and easy Turkish meals when you are on the move

We have just moved in to our new home; very exciting yet also busy with packing and settling in. I gathered a few of my favorite recipes here that can be easily prepared, yet delicious and wholesome – I know I will be turning to them and knowing I have good food ready to enjoy & serve will give me peace of mind, at the end of a busy day. These dishes can also be prepared ahead of time or can be cooked all in one pot. I hope these also may inspire you for wholesome and easy meals; look forward to sharing new recipes from our new home soon!

Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, oninons and feta cheese, Menemen

Menemen; Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese.

Menemen; Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese.

What do you cook when you are loaded with boxes and busy unpacking? Well, this delicious scrambled egg and vegetables is packed with flavour, it is nutritious and gets ready in minutes. Menemen is one of my homeland’s favorite brunch item, and a great street food. There are many versions of it – garlic, onion, any choice of cheese, spinach would go well too. Served with nice crusty bread and a little garlic yoghurt by the side, this dish can make a wonderful light supper or a substantial lunch option.

Casserole of meatballs, peppers, onions and potato; Izmir Kofte

Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, onions, peppers and potato

Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, onions, peppers and potato

How about this melt-in-the mouth Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, peppers, onions and potato? This is a popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!) that can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain white rice or a slice of crusty bread. Delicious, easy meal; you can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

 Zucchini fritters with feta, dill and green onions –  Mucver

Zucchini fritters with feta, spring onions and dill; Mucver; delicious

Zucchini fritters with feta, spring onions and dill; Mucver; delicious

Zucchini, kabak in Turkish, are very versatile, used in many dishes and their flowers are perfect for stuffing. This surprisingly easy and  wonderful vegetarian fritters, Mucver, are fantastic accompanied by garlic infused yoghurt or a leafy salad and crusty bread. You can enjoy them as a meze/appetizer for supper or light lunch dish. The bite size versions would be a great party / finger food too. They are also wonderful served next day as a cold snack. They are easy to make and delightful. Here is my Mucver recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with vegetables; Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with onions, peppers and tomatoes, Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with onions, peppers and tomatoes, Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgur wheat is a grain made from cooked whole wheat berries, which have had the bran removed, and is then dried in the sun and crushed. As it has already been cooked, it requires little cooking to reconstitute itself. It is available coarsely and finely ground. For pilaf, the coarser type is used, to create a nutty and delicious dish, which is a meal in itself and served with yoghurt. Bulgur has been a major staple in many rural areas in Turkey; during the Ottoman Period, the rice was a very precious commodity that only the rich could afford. This made the bulgur a very popular option and healthy one too. It is reach in fiber and provides good source of protein.  I love this delicious and wholesome bulgur pilaf with vegetables; you get a complete, satisfying meal in no time. You can serve Cacik dip, yoghurt with cucumbers and dried mint as a side for a refreshing accompaniment.

Eggplants, green lentils and vegetables cooked in Olive Oil; Mercimekli Mualla

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

We have a whole section in Turkish cuisine called “Vegetables cooked in Olive Oil”, Zeytinyaglilar, where we cook vegetables in olive oil and serve them either cold or at room temperature. Once cooked, it is important for the dish to cool down in its pan and rest, allowing all the flavors to blend. Usually served with a wedge of lemon, this style of cooking is very healthy, tasty and refreshing. This traditional recipe, Patlicanli Mercimekli Mualla, is from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. The amazing flavors of green lentils, olive oil, eggplant and dried mint blend so well and take me back to Antakya immediately. Again, all-in-one-pot, delicious vegetarian meal you can prepare ahead of time.

Turkish beans salad with vegetables, olives, boiled egg in sumac dressing; Fasulye Piyazi

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs - Fasulye piyazl

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs – Fasulye piyazl

What do you cook when you have limited time? Well, this bean and vegetable salad, fasulye piyazi, can be ready in a flash, it is very delicious and healthy. At home, traditionally we serve fasulye piyazi with grilled meatballs, koftes. There are traditional restaurants, lokantas, at home that solely serve Turkish style meatballs, fasulye piyaz and pickled cucumber and peppers. This salad is also a great alternative for lunch, served with some nice crusty bread or in can be a part of a meze spread. I would happily have this salad with some nice bread aside for a light supper.

Baked dried apricots with walnuts – Cevizli kayisi tatlisi

Baked dried apricots with walnuts; delicious, easy and packed with goodness.

Baked dried apricots with walnuts; delicious, easy and packed with goodness.

One of Turkey’s most prolific fruits is the apricot. Because of their abundance, some of the yearly harvest is allowed to dry in the hot summer sun in order to be enjoyed all year round. Malatya, a city in southeast Turkey, is particularly famous for excellent dried apricots which are exported throughout the world. Apricots are great snacks; they are packed with fiber, antioxidants and their naturally rich, wonderful flavor is icing on the cake. This delicious & easy baked dried apricots with walnuts dessert is great for sharing with friends and family or just indulging yourself.

Delicious, frothy Turkish Coffee – Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

For me, nothing more relaxing than taking a break with a  nice cup of Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee, Turk kahvesi is one of the most popular traditional drinks at home in Turkey and I love the whole ritual, the experience of it. In Turkish, we have a saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which means “The memory of a good cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years”. Turkish coffee is a drink of friendship; you are offered this traditional, aromatic drink wherever you go in Turkey; when visiting friends and family, in the shops, while waiting in the bank, in hairdressers.. We take time to pause and enjoy this special drink with a friend or family or sometimes simply reflect with every precious sip. A glass of water and Turkish Delights, Lokum by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. And I always look forward to putting the feet up and enjoy a sip of Turkish coffee at then end of a busy day.

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

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Greetings from Istanbul!- Istanbul'dan Merhaba – A Snapshot of Tastes, Sights and Delights

Dear Mother, Anneanne, with the grandchildren – time for a feast!

Greetings, or as we say in Turkish, a warm Merhaba to you all from Istanbul! It has been a few days since we have been at home, Istanbul, and it feels wonderful. Here I wanted to share a few snapshots of tastes, sights and delights that welcomed us here. As always, it feels amazing to be at home, spending time with family and friends. Mealtimes are always special in Turkey; the family and friends gathers around the table – the more the merrier! – sharing a delicious bite and catching up with each other. My dear parents prepared us a wonderful feast, and they always taste even better when enjoyed together.

Mother’s yoghurt soup with bulgur balls

Here is Mother’s Yoghurt Soup with bulgur balls from Antakya – this is a similar dish to Gaziantep’s Yuvalama – Yoghurt soup with bulgur balls and chickpeas; very delicious and healthy. It can be a meal on its own with some nice crusty bread aside.

Mevlubi; Antakya’s upside down rice with sauteed eggplants, potatoes and meat; a delicious regional specialty.

Mevlubi on a plate; the eggplants, potatoes and meat & rice melt in the mouth

Mevlubi was on our table; a special dish from Antakya; we cook the sauteed eggplant, potatoes and meat together with the rice on a slow heat and then turn the dish upside down. All the flavors blend and complement each other so well, a feast for the senses. Here is the recipe if you’d like to have a look.

The Turkish breakfast; sucuklu yumurta, cay, simit – my favorite meal of the day.

 

Ali passing the second round of cay – Turkish tea; the most popular drink at home

We indulged, enjoyed the wonderful dinner and thought we won’t be able to eat for another week. But no, by the time it was morning, we were ready for the Turkish breakfast! Turkish sausages, sucuk with eggs, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, cheese, olives, honey and more, crowned with cay, Turkish tea; – my favorite meal of the day.

The Bosphorus bridge and a passing traditional ferry, Vapur at Ortakoy – Istanbul

Ortakoy Market is full of decorative items, ceramic pottery and more

A good brisk walk was in order to after all that indulgence and we headed to the vibrant Ortakoy Market. You can find many stalls selling  jewelry, pottery, decorative items as well as delicious streetfood in Ortakoy on Sundays.

Asli Borek in Besiktas; delicious variety of boreks, savory pastries with vavious fillings awaits you there.

I was off to Besiktas the next day. Besiktas is one of my favorite districts in Istanbul; you can still find the village atmosphere there; the borekci, savory pastry shop selling all kinds of boreks, vibrant fish market, groceries selling seasonal produce and all small scale shops still exist and everyone knows one another. Asli Borek in Besiktas Carsi (Market) is a favorite with freshly baked cheese & parsley filled borek, tepsi Boregi and cheese and spinach filled boreks, Ispanakli Borek; they melt in the mouth.

Peynirli, Ispanakli borek; Cheese & Spinach filled pastry – goes so well with a cup of tea, cay.

 With a glass of cay, these boreks go down so well. You see locals popping in an out and getting their freshly baked boreks with a cup of tea, for their breakfast – my kind of start for the day.

Tulumba tatlisi; syrup soaked crispy outside but soft inside pastries are amongst the sweet treats offered at Borekcis and Pastanes – Patiseries

The main event on Monday was my Turkish cookery class at the Istanbul Culinary Institute. We cooked and enjoyed Pistachio lamb kebabs, lentil soup, kunefe  with enthuiastic food lovers together. Nice to hear that they felt they can have a go at them at home and that the class inspired.

Cooking together at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

I had a special guest, my mother, in the class on Monday, for the first time. It was lovely to share with her and her presence was vital as being the kunefe expert! 🙂

Preparing the kunefe with my mother at the class, a very special guest.

And here is the glorious, syrup soaked, cheese and Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak filled kunefe from the class! The crispy golden pastry strands makes such a wonderful contrast with the syrup soaked melted cheese in the middle; a very special treat.

Syrup soaked, cheese filled baked pastry strands, Kunefe – a very festive dessert.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the highlights of our Istanbul trip, and I hope the recipes can inspire you to have a go. They really are not difficult and they can help make any day special. There are plenty more to share, hope soon.

Until next time, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

 

 

 

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