Results tagged “Turkey”

Turkey rillettes


This is a fantastic use for leftover roast turkey.  Although it's worth making from fresh turkey thighs anytime.  The thighs are the best bit of the bird - full of flavour, suited to slow cooking and not expensive if bought separately.  You could also use smoked turkey instead. 


Secret Kitchen menu, 18th Feb 2012

Smstuffedmussel0001.JPGthinking of Turkey

Rakı and pomegranate cocktails
Istanbul style stuffed mussels

Leek & cheese cigars, haloumi grilled in vine leaves,
beetroot & yoghurt dip, lentil & coriander dip,
minted labneh and homemade bread

Ottoman lamb & prune stew
with saffron rice

Apricots with clotted cream, figs with halva ice cream,
dates with pistachio paste
Turkish tea

Hubbub Cooks Turkish dinner, Tues 15th March 2011

HUBBUB_STRAP_red.png‘Hubbub Cooks’ is a series of cooking classes I am running in collaboration with Hubbub - a fantastic little company that delivers top quality food from my local independent shops - butcher, fishmonger, cheesemonger, deli and more.  The classes are open to anyone, and will be for just eight people at a time so everyone will get plenty of action.  10% off if you book three classes!

Mediterranean series
We'll be cooking up delicious meals using the distinctive flavours and traditional techniques from countries around the Mediterranean where I have spent time on my travels researching the local culinary culture:  Morocco on 15th Feb, Turkey on 15th March and Italy on 17th May.  We'll use the best seasonal produce from my local shops, and classes will end in a convivial meal around the table with wine.

Smbluemosquesunset0001.jpgSample Turkish menu:
(the final menu will depend on ingredient availability and guests' preferences)

Smoked aubergine salad
Red lentil soup with mint & chilli sizzle
Ottoman lamb & prune stew with saffron pilaf
Apricots poached in mulberry molasses with clotted cream
Pistachio baklava with Turkish tea

Date:  Tuesday 15th March 2011

Time:  10am - 2pm, repeated 6pm - 10pm

Location:  London N5 (Arsenal tube 2 mins walk)

Price:  £60 per person per class. 
10% off when you book three or more Hubbub Cooks classes. 

To book:  Email Hubbub
, call them on 020 7354 5511 or book online on their website

Persian cooking classes: Sep-Nov 2009

Jamileh.jpgSat 26th September, Sat 24th October and Sat 21st November 2009 - 12 noon to 6pm.

This autumn Jamileh Hinrichs, an expert in Persian cuisine, is offering a special series of cooking classes. Class sizes will be kept very small so everyone can join in and learn directly from Jamileh’s extensive culinary experience. You can book the whole course, or pick one date. Feel free to spread the word and invite friends and family.

Persian cuisine is one of the oldest and most sophisticated in the world. The sheer length and breath of the Old Persian Empire (encompassing today’s Iran and parts of Turkey, Greece, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt) has been the cradle of many distinct flavours and cooking ideas.

Spinach and cheese pie

greece, turkey
We found ıspanaklı ve peynirli börek to be as common in Turkey as spanakotyropita is in Greece, and made a point of sampling as many as humanly possible, purely in the name of research of course.  They are essentially the same dish - a savoury pie made of multiple layers of ultra-thin pastry with a spinach and cheese filling.  Sometimes it’s just spinach, or just cheese, but I like it with both. 

Smborek0001.jpgThey come in various shapes and sizes, depending on which country, region, town, village, bakery or home you’re in, and with different fillings.  The form here is nice and simple and works with the packets of filo dough we can find in shops in the UK.  I have made the filling purposefully generous in quantity and moist in consistency as I don’t like my börek dry.  The recipe is loosely based on two very different versions I had the opportunity to make with chefs in Turkey and Greece - Engin Akin in Istanbul and Dimitris Mantsios in Naoussa.

To Romania in a spoon

greece, romania, turkey
Smspoonberries0001.jpgWhile staying in the Carpathians with our friends Anca and Eduard, we had a lot of conversations about jam.  I don't possibly have space here to tell you about everything we learnt (although I'm sure Anna will try soon) - but here's two things.  First, Romanians have a lot of words for jam.  Second, two of them, dulceață and șerbet, are things we don't really have in the UK, involving interesting ingredients like green walnut and aubergine, and mysterious old social rituals involving teaspoons and glasses of water.

It's often tempting to try to make what you see fit with what you already know.  So, given what we already knew about Ottoman influence on Eastern European cuisine, we quickly jumped to the conclusion that this must be a Turkish phenomenon - șerbet is a Turkish word, after all.  And when we reached Turkey, we did indeed find delicious walnut and aubergine jams.

But something didn't quite fit.  Why use a Latin word - dulceață - for something Turkish?  And although we saw plenty of şerbet in Turkey, we never got offered it in spoons or water.  Well, now that we've arrived in Greece, we've realised it's much more complicated than we thought ...

Ottoman or not?

bulgaria, greece, romania, turkey
Now that we've spent some time in Turkey, some in Romania and Bulgaria before that, and now some in Greece, it's been interesting to try to spot various culinary connections between them.  It's not all pleasant, but they have a lot of shared history via the long presence of the Ottoman empire in Eastern Europe.  Greece was under Ottoman control for hundreds of years; and while Romania (and especially Transylvania) was nominally independent for much of that time, the word "nominally" should be stressed.


Ottoman chefs: could they tell their
aubergines from their tomatoes?

In some cases, of course, there are clear similarities in techniques and ingredients, but there's really no way to know whether Romanians influenced Turks, or Turks influenced Romanians, or whether they both just thought that spicy meatballs tasted nice.  But in others, you can get some help from the language: if a stuffed vine leaf in Greece has an originally Turkish name, the odds are that it has at least some Turkish origins.

But sometimes we have to do a bit more detective work.  In Romania, the word for tomato is "red" (roşie), and the word for aubergine is "purple" (vinete): so you might ask your greengrocer for a kilo of reds and a kilo of purples.  This does sort of make sense - tomatoes are red, after all, and aubergines are purple - but why just these two?  They don't call cucumbers "greens".  And tomatoes certainly aren't the only red things in a Romanian kitchen, what with all those peppers around.  Well, a conversation with Anca in the Carpathians, a conversation with Özge in Istanbul, some dictionary work, and all became clear ...

Places to stay in Turkey

Smfairyinn0001.JPGWe ended up spending about five weeks in Turkey, and we wish it had been a lot longer.  The thing about Turkey is that it's big.  Really big.  This means that the various regions can be really quite different, with their own distinct characters, geographies and of course cuisines - and that meant that we had to try and get to as many different corners as we could.  

As the distances are so large, this meant staying in a lot of different places, but quite often not for very long.  Some of them were pretty forgettable, but got us where we wanted to go the next day.  But some of them have been wonderful - beautiful places run by interesting, hospitable and incredibly generous people.  We wish we'd had more time, and we'll definitely be coming back.  So here's our list of the places we're most likely to come back to ...

Kebabs we have known and loved

It would be a gross misrepresentation to suggest that Turkish food is all about kebabs.  It really isn't.  Sure, they're famous - ask the average man in the UK street to name a Turkish dish, and he'll probably tell you about döner kebabs.  (Fair enough - nothing else tastes quite so good when all the pubs have shut.)  But as we've discovered, Smurfakebab0001.jpg Turkish cuisine is really all about everything but kebabs - the finely spiced Ottoman rice dishes, the seafood of the north, the spices and sweets of the south-east, the olive-oil-braised vegetables and wild herbs of the Aegean. Don't get me started.

But having said that, there's a lot of kebabs in Turkey.  And sooner or later, you're going to end up eating one.  And there's a lot more variation - and flavour - in the kebab world than you might think.  Some of them, in fact, are downright delicious.  So to help you find the best and avoid the less desirable, here's our all-time top most tasty kebab list.

Turkey II: Syria (nearly) to Greece

Smmountainpass0001.JPGAfter our epic journey to Erzurum, we had a very long day's drive ahead of us to get to Mardin and the south-east.  Partly because it's quite a long way; partly because we took quite a roundabout route.  But also because as well as getting stopped by the police as usual, we started getting stopped by the army.  This is PKK country: villages have military watchtowers, and roads have frequent checkpoints.  (Perhaps a bit like Northern Ireland in the 1970s, but with more kebabs.) There's a fair amount of traffic, though, so you'd have thought they'd have seen someone like Anna driving a Land Rover before, but apparently not: once the first soldier saw who was at the wheel, he immediately called the rest of the squad over for a laugh.

But it was definitely worth the drive.  Not only was the south-east probably the highlight of the trip (although it's a close call), we went on from that to see the centre and the coast in ways that most tourists don't get to do - mostly because of the people we met.

So read on for stories of underground ovens, underwater cities, pizzas as long as Anna is tall, and ice cream you eat with a knife and fork.

Blowing their own horns

Smgalatasaraystadium0001.JPGFootball is the most-supported sport in Turkey, and Galatasaray are the most-supported football team.  This season, they won the Turkish league.  This was quite a big deal for their supporters all over Turkey (not just in their home town of Istanbul - on the night when they were confirmed as champions, we were in Cappadocia, but judging by the hooting horns and revving cars all evening, you'd have thought a local team had just won).

Smgalatasarayfans0001.jpgAnyway, tonight was the last game of the season, and time for the real celebration.  Özge took us to their stadium in Istanbul.  The fans are particularly proud of this stadium and the atmosphere they generate - others call it "a cauldron of hate", they call it "Hell" (as in "welcome to").  Judging by the amount of smoke and flames we saw, a fairly appropriate name.

Then we went to Taksim Square to join the street party.

Click here to listen.

Click here for more audio samples.

Ten Turkish tastes

Copy (1) of Smzelispazaraubergines0001.JPGIt's ridiculous to try to sum up Turkish cuisine in 10 flavours.  Turkish cuisine is hugely rich and infinitely varied, not least because a) Turkey's absolutely enormous - have you looked at a map recently? - comprising three different coastlines, high snowy mountains, very hot, dry plains and lush wooded hillsides, among other things, and b) its cooking has been influenced over the centuries by Mongolian, Chinese, Persian and Greek cultures and then, through the enormous Ottoman empire and its trade routes, many more, including Moroccan and French.

But I'll give it a go...

Getting fruity

Smcandiedfig0001.JPGA good Turkish meal ends with fresh fruit, often artfully presented in slices and wedges on the plate.  You might get kiwis, strawberries, oranges, apples or any number of stone fruit when in season.  But apart from this occasional appearance, fresh fruit is surprisingly hard to find.  I could suppose that this is due to the long history and widespread custom of preserving fruit so it can be enjoyed all year, a taste for which the sweet-toothed Turks maintain to this day in cities and villages alike.

Where there's wheat

Smsimiturfa0001.jpgWhile you may well find rice or potatoes as the starch on your dinner plate, and plenty of dried beans and pulses cooked up in your stews, and even desserts, it is wheat that has to be the principal starch-provider of Turkey.  After all, it was in ancient Mesopotamia, and probably around the modern-day town of Diyarbakır in eastern Turkey, that wheat was first domesticated by man more than 10 thousand years ago.

From the people who brought you yoghurt

Smyoghurtwithsesameseeds0001.JPGYou might not associate Turkey with dairy products in the way that you might France or Italy.  But dairy is big business in Turkey, the country which invented yoghurt and exported it to the world.  There are also numerous cheeses and some very special butters and creams, and an ice cream you eat with a knife and fork.

A pepper pilgrimage

smistanbulspicepazar0001.JPGAs ubiquitous as the aubergine is the pepper (biber), in all its versions:  red hot chilli peppers, fat bell peppers and numerous thinner green varieties.  The fresh green pepper - longer, thinner and paler than a regular bell, and sometimes with some pleasing heat - must be used in 8 out of 10 savoury Turkish dishes.  It adds a wonderful fresh pepperiness (for want of a better word) to meat stews, vegetable meze, egg dishes and more.  Its fatter bell cousin is usually stuffed with rice and flavourings. But it was the chilli pepper that really caught our interest ...

Sultan of vegetables

Copy (1) of Smzelispazaraubergines0001.JPGIf there is one vegetable that symbolises the Turkish kitchen it has to be the shiny, purple aubergine (patlıcan).  It may not be native to Anatolia or the wider Mediterranean (it was native to India and probably reached what is now Turkey in the Middle Ages ), but it certainly suits the climate well and has become the representative, ‘traditional’ vegetable of the whole region.  We had aubergine prepared for us in numerous delicious ways.  These were some of our favourites:

Wild about greens

smsackwildgreens0001.JPGDon’t fall into the trap of thinking Turkish food is just meat and kebabs, despite what you may have seen on your local highstreet in England.  Some of the best cooking we had in Turkey was totally vegetarian.  Three of or favourite cooks in Turkey, Musa Dağdeviren, Zeliha İrez and Erhan Şeker, cooked predominantly with vegetables, and made abundant use of weird and wonderful wild greens and herbs that we’d never heard of before, let alone tasted.

Sensitive balls

Smiclikofteplated0001.JPGIt’s not all tea and candy in Turkey of course, and meat is a very important part of the diet for most Turks.  Of course practically no pork - which was a nice change for us after our pork ‘n’ lard fest in central and eastern Europe. 

Beef and lamb are the most common red meats, with beef overtaking lamb, especially in the west, due to the increase of factory farming and hence smaller price tag.  (Lower price in terms of pennies from the customer’s pocket that is, not cost to their health, the cows’ wellbeing or the environment, of course…) 

And there’s plenty of chicken too, but we found those dishes less interesting.  So I'm not writing about them here.  Instead you can find out about 'sensitive balls'...

It's all fıstık to me

Smfindik0001.jpgWe have found that sugar is often accompanied by nuts in Turkey, and they are as important as each other in the cuisine.  Everyone knows which region grows the best of each kind of nut, and the nuts are often named after these places.  We managed to visit several of them.

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Culinary Anthropologist