Culinary Anthropologist


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We ate maybe a hundred gözleme each in Turkey.  It is a kind of flatbread (yufka), folded up around a filling such as cheese, potato or spinach, and cooked on a metal dome (saç) over a fire until the outside is browned and crispy and the inside is soft and hot.  They are absolutely delicious and make the perfect breakfast or lunch hot snack. 

In Cappadocia I spent one hilarious day making them with three expert women in the village of Göreme.  Gülcan, Hamide and Hatice showed me how to make the fillings, knead and roll the dough, fold it up in a parcel around the filling and then cook it over the tandır fire.  Here is the recipe and several short video clips.  Warning: some clips contain explicit language (in Turkish).

This session around the traditional tandır oven is now sadly a rare occurrence in Cappadocia, where it was once a very socially significant event for the women of the cave houses, and it was probably Hatice’s last.  You can read the full story here.

Recipe:  Gözleme


cheese filling:
white cheese, such as Turkish beyaz peynir or Greek Feta, crumbled
onion, finely diced
dried mint (or fresh mint, chopped)
parsley, chopped
sweet paprika
salt and pepper

potato filling:
fairly starchy potatoes, boiled in skins then peeled and roughly mashed
hot green chillis, finely sliced into rings
onion, finely diced
parsley, chopped
sweet paprika
salt and pepper

egg filling:
white cheese, such as Turkish beyaz peynir or Greek Feta, crumbled
an egg, in its shell

you will also need some butter

You can click on the picture to see the video for most of the steps:

  1. Make a dough with some flour, a pinch of salt and enough water to make a fairly wet, sticky dough.  Keep adding flour and/or water until you have something you think might work…  Get both hands in and really mix the dough so that there are no dry flour pockets left.  It’s messy work – and really fun.  Watch Hamide do it…
  1. Knead dough by punching down on it with your knuckes.  It’s easiest with this sort of sticky dough to do it in a flat-bottomed plastic bowl like Hamide’s doing.  Every now and then dust the dough and bowl with some flour so that you can pick it all up and flip it over, so that it all gets well kneaded.  Keep kneading for about 10 minutes.  “The longer the better,” as Hamide says.
  1. Next dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a fat sausage about 3” wide.
  2. Using a knife cut off a section from the sausage, knead it for a minute, and roll it into a ball the size of a small-medium orange.  Do this by cupping your hand over it and rotating your hand.  By now the dough should be pretty soft and smooth and not sticky.  Coat the dough ball with flour and place in a lightly floured container.  Check out Hamide’s kneading and cupping action…
  1. Repeat with the other portions of dough, then cover all the balls with a cloth and leave to rest for at least half an hour.
  1. Meanwhile make one or more fillings.  The cheese and potato fillings are made simply by mixing the ingredients together.  It should be a moist, ‘rustic’, crumbly mix, rather than a smooth paste.  Use whatever quantities seem good to you.
  1. To roll the yufka:  Take a ball and roll it out on a lightly floured wooden surface into a large circle.  You will need plenty of flour at first to prevent the dough sticking, but as it gets bigger you should use less and less.  Watch Hamide to study her well-practised and very effective technique…  The dough disk should end up very thin and large, with no holes or tears.  Watch the next step too to see how thin Hamide rolls the yufka
  1. To make gözleme:  Fold the top and bottom sections of a disk of yufka over so that they slightly overlap.  Dot some filling evenly over the central section, then fold over the side flaps so that they too slightly overlap in the middle.  It should now be a square shape, roughly.  Using the knuckle or heel of your hand bang down along the seams of the gözleme to seal the dough, ie along the top and bottom and down the centre.
  1. NB To make the version with the egg filling as Hamide did:  Pick out a little hole in the tip of an egg, then hold it hole-down over the gözleme and shake the raw egg out of the hole, scattering it over the gözleme.  Then sprinkle on some crumbled white cheese and fold up and seal as usual.
  1. To cook gözleme:  Heat a traditional Turkish saç, or failing that a cast iron pan, either flat bottomed or grooved, until it is extremely hot.  You should not need any oil.  Lay the gözleme flat on the hot surface and cook for a few minutes until golden and speckled all over with dark brown dots.  Flip and cook the same way on the other side.
  1. When done transfer to some newspaper (as was done at our session in Cappadocia) or tea-towels to keep warm, brushin
    g with melted butter on top before covering.

  2. Serve while still warm, or reheat in the oven if needed.
  1. Have a laugh.

You can read the full story of our gözleme-making session here, and more about other uses of wheat in Turkey here.

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