Results tagged “pistachios”

Cardamom cookies

When I made these little biscuits for my third Secret Kitchen they were gobbled up greedily, despite the preceding four course dinner.  I based the recipe on one from Tartine, our favourite café in San Francisco.  (And everyone else’s, judging by the ‘line’ running down the sidewalk every Saturday morning.)  You can create your own recipe by substituting different nuts and spices, as you like.


Pistachio stuffed dates

This is a Moroccan recipe, and the perfect accompaniment to mint tea to round off a lavish Moroccan feast.  Dates are one of Morocco’s finest exports.  While travelling around Morocco we drove all the way to Erfoud on the edge of the Sahara for its October date festival, only to find that the unusually wet weather had flooded most of the date palm groves and raging torrents had destroyed several key roads and bridges.  Not what we expected to find in the desert!

smpistachiostuffeddates0001.JPGSmdateharvest0001.jpgFurther West, in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains, we caught up with the date harvest (see pic).  And just beyond we found the beautiful Valley of the Roses.  In spring this valley is carpeted with roses, whose petals are harvested to make fragrant rose water, used as both a culinary and cosmetic ingredient.  Rose water is also used in Iranian and Indian cuisine, and throughout the Arabic world.  It was much more popular, along with orange flower water, in European cuisine in the past than it is today.  Try it in cakes instead of vanilla.

smpistachiobaklava0001.JPGBut pistachios will always make me think of Turkey, and in particular Gaziantep (formerly Antep), renowned throughout Turkey and beyond for the fine pistachios which thrive in the surrounding dry, low hills.  Here we ate our fill of baklava stuffed with naturally bright green pistachio paste, and marvelled at the women who sort the nuts one-by-one by hand, to ensure only the best are used.  As in Morocco, Turkish cuisine combines nuts and sugar to great effect.

In London I buy my ‘Antep fıstığı’ (Antep nuts) from a brilliant little shop called Hot Nuts on Green Lanes, a few minutes walk from Manor House tube station.  Green Lanes and nearby Blackstock Road are also a sure bet for good dates and rose water.

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.

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.



Culinary Anthropologist