Obsession with Turkish Tea

Turkish tea is probably one of the finest tea you will drink- it is the kind of drink you get addicted to from the get go, and it will most certainly change your life. Turkish tea is quite strong, and it is traditionally served black- rather apt, as it is cultivated on the coast of the Black Sea. It is a piping hot drink that makes for the best conversations starter, as well.

Turkish Tea drnk the traditional way

Turkish tea is an extremely strong drink- it is considered an offence to serve someone tea that is weak and light! If you are visiting Turkey, your trip will be incomplete without getting a cup of tea. When you visit a Turkish çay cafe,  you will see that the strong brew is brewed in a traditional a two-tiered tea kettle. This kettle is kept on so that the tea remains hot the entire duration, so that it can be served piping hot, no matter when the client demands it.

If you wish to add some more flavour to the tea, you can opt to put some sugar, honey or lemon in it. Some people prefer Turkish tea drunk straight- without any extra additions as well.

If you have some black tea leaves, you can try whipping up your own Turkish tea at home– you just have to make sure that you have the right kettle to brew the tea in, and the right kind of glasses to serve the tea in, the Turkish are rather specific about the way the tea is served preferring glass to the china we at home.

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A trip to Kemer for food and a race!

 

Saç Kavurma wonderful Turkish dish made in flat pan with either lamb, beef or chicken

Hi everyone, did you like my friends post from last time? I asked her to introduce herself but she forgot to say who she was! This is a very old friend who I introduced to Turkey many years ago and she  lives there now. I thought it would be fun to ask some of my Turkish ex pat mates to write on here now and again about their views on the Turkish food and of course new dishes and recipes – what do you think?

Red Bull Sea to Sky Enduro race in Kemer 2015
If you look carefully you will see me there..He he. This is the beach start.

This time I do not have to ask someone in Turkey as I have just come back from a short visit. I went with my daughter to the Red Bull Sea to Sky Enduro challenge. I actually only went to the beach race but it was pretty exciting ( and soooo hot for October). No I laid by the pool, swan in a crystal sea and generally stuffed myself! One of the meals we ate was Saç Kavurma which is small pieces of lamb cooked with plenty of oregano, garlic and some chili pepper for flavour. Cooked in a flat wok type pan from where it got its name, sac being a domed metal plate that the food is not only cooked in but served. A bit like the Balti idea. Cooked with onions, red peppers and tomatoes. It is cooked fairly fast and the sauce is reduced –  more a flavoured olive oil than a sauce. Eaten with flat Turkish bread fresh from the ovens  – absolutely delicious. I am going to try this at home but been thinking should have bought myself one of those wok pans. Ah well save that for my next visit. Will let you know how it turns out.

Although not really to do with recipes I want to mention how I afforded this trip. It was a very last-minute invite; my daughter was going re her work and asked me to come along when a colleague could not go. As it was short notice, I actually took out a loan to fund it from ferratum.co.uk, I found them very helpful and the process quick and smooth, would recommend them.

Some simple but delicious Turkish food

As I visit so often I feel more of a local than a tourist, although I do try and visit new areas in Turkey as often as i can – learning new dishes experiencing new tastes – always exciting and nearly always delicious – I don’t do very spicy!! Thought I would share a couple of the meals I have enjoyed many times on my visits.

Kuzu Tandı

Kuzu Tandı is a lamb dish cooked in the traditional fire-place way. It is hung and cooked over fire or tandoor for 5 hours. The result is a succulent dish. It is served with rice, baked potatoes and yogurt. A delightful dish for non-veggies.

Baklava is a sweet which has heavenly taste. I do not how it is cooked but have never tasted such good sweets in my life. For recipe you can look here.

Pide

Pide sometimes called Turkish pizza is a bread which is a native of Turkey. It is served with nice toppings just like in Pizza.

 

Lokum - Turkish Delight

Lokum popularly known as Turkish delight is a world-famous sweet. Fresh Lokum tastes better than the packaged version available all over the world. You need to come to Turkey to savor the taste.

Iskender kebab

Iskender kebab is lamb cut into long pieces and cooked in tomato curry. The golden color with the tangy taste makes it a favorite at any Turkish restaurant. Generally served with pita bread and Yogurt.

These are five of my favorites. However with so much to choose for I am really spoilt for choice  in Turkey.

Tavuk sote or ‘Chicken Pan’

A delicious Turkish chicken ( or any meat) saute, a taste of the Med
Tavuk Sote or chicken saute

I was visiting with my daughter last week and she asked me to make her favourite dish from Turkey. Now this meal is popular in the tourist Turkish restaurants but is also made in the homes. It actually just a saute using either chicken or lamb and occasionally steak. Sometimes a combination of all three, and if I am making in the UK  I even add some pork but mainly my family prefer chicken. I think what makes it special for my daughter is it evokes great memories of holidays spent in Alanya Turkey and eating with friends in restaurants; smelling it cooking is evocative she says of hot nights and raki!

The ingredients for this ‘Turkish pan’ as she calls it is;

1 kilo of meat chopped into bite sized cubes,

2 onions, red peppers, mushrooms ( chopped and sliced to your preferences but not overly large pieces)

Tomato paste and chopped tomatoes (tinned or fresh)

Garlic ( 2-3 cloves depending on preference) sliced not pressed

Oregano; chili pepper, salt and black pepper.

Olive oil

I fry the onions, peppers for a few minutes in the olive oil, then add whichever meat I am using.

Once the meat is brown I turn down the heat and add in the garlic and seasoning seasoning -again this is preferences. I use about 2 teaspoon of dried oregano and a good handful if fresh. The chili depends on how hot you want it to be and how good your chili powder is – I do not like overly hot so use 1 teaspoon. Mix in well and add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, followed by the chopped tomatoes, add enough water to cover (the tomato paste thickens it). I add the mushrooms at this stage if I am using them.

Leave to cook for about 20 mins until the meat is ready and the sauce has thickened.

I normally make in the morning for the evening meal as I like the saute to stand and flavours to develop but can be eaten straight away. Serve with rice and a crisp green salad and fresh crusty bread. Some tzatziki dip adds to the meal.

I have a special saute pan I bought over from Turkey, it is like a wok but much flatter and just perfect for cooking this meal, not sure if it can be bought in the UK, if anyone knows where one can be bought maybe they can let me know

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Karniyarik or Turkish Stuffed Aubergines

 

Glossy, delicious tasting aubergines or patlican
Aubergines – Eggplant – Patlican

I love aubergines, the glossy purple skins call to me from the market stall, I love the colour and the taste and versatility of this vegetable. I share this love with the Turks. Way back to the Ottoman times this has been a popular vegetable, some say the recipe was designed especially in the royal kitchens. No real credence to this story but it is certainly a dish fit for a king or Queen!  Sometimes people confuse karniyarik with Imam Bayildi. The second is made similarly but without meat and served cold.  Karniyarik means riven belly, which is exactly what we do to the vegetable.Although the names brings up images of the cruelty of the ottoman times – ever watched one of the films on Turkish history? If you haven’t take a look at Muhtesem Yuzyil (Magnificent Century) a prime time TV serial but quite spectacular to watch even if you don’t know  a lot of Turkish.

Karniyarik or Stuffed aubergine, traditional Turkish dish
Karniyarik

What I love about karniyarik, along with the taste, is that although a bit time consuming it can be prepared earlier and re heated and it can be frozen. For those of you who like measures I usually follow this recipe but with my slight alterations… first I prepared the mixture, I normal used minced beef, but have also used minced lamb and a mixture of lamb and chicken. I also add some paprika and a slight touch of cumin to the mix. I also tend to buy the smaller aubergines which I peel off about 3 stripes using a potato peeler. I then carefully split open the whole aubergine, taking care to open a pocket and not cut through the opposite side. I also do not salt them until after I have fried them – find they spit if I salt them before. Do not forget to salt before you add the meat mixture. before i put in the oven I pour over each aubergine some tomato sauce. This I make from tomato puree, grated tomato, soy sauce, garlic (plenty) and oregano. make the sauce not too runny. This addition was taught to me by my Turkish neighbour – we cooked for 12 people that time and I still love making karniyarik!!!

Afiyet Olsun

Asure or Noah’s Pudding

Asure served in the month of  Muharrem
Asure or Noah’s Pudding

On the 10 day of the month of Muharrem, the first month of the Islamic calendar, it is traditional to serve a dessert called Asure, to family and friends. Whilst in Turkey at this time, you could in one night collect as many dishes of asure as there were apartments in your block. This delicious concoction is also called Noah’s pudding as it is said he made it with all the ingredients left in the Ark.   For me, my memories of Asure start with the knock at door by neighbours sharing their freshly made Asure, accompanied by the rich aroma of cinnamon and warm fruit, nothing quite like it warm. I have included these recipes as it is the one most easily made in the UK, it’s warming and tasty and sweet despite using what we would consider savoury beans.

At this time of year a drink called Boza starts to appear. Now this I think is an acquired taste, one I never quite managed but for many Turks it is what winter is about. It is one of the oldest Turkish beverage and made from fermented grains. It is made from October to April and has an interesting history.

It can be obtained from specialists grocers  in the Uk or take winter trip to Istanbul and try it in Vefa Bozacısı in Vefa Fatih, Katip Çelebi Cad.  A famous historic café where Attaurk drank Boza.

Boza a traditional winter drink from Turkey
Glasses of Boza

 

Poğaça

Warm delicious cheese or potato filled simit for sale on the streets in Turkey
Simitci in Istanbul

Street food in Turkey is varied and delicious. In Istanbul you will find Balik etmek, literally fish sandwiches, especially in the Karaköy or Eminönü shore districts; You will find simitci on most street corners, these are the sellers of bread rings that have been dipped in molasses and covered in sesame seed  and many other tasty delights.  Along with these you will often find poğaça. These are a popular savoury sweetbread roll filled with a variety of things, from meat to cheese and spinach. These are also an easy treat to make at home. I made some for bonfire night and they went down so fast…Next year double the amount! Like many Turkish recipes there are variables by district, family and tradition, mine is from a Turkish friend who lives in Adana.  I filled mine this time with fried mince and peppers seasoned with a little chili and  also made some sweets ones with precooked apple chunks with raisins and cinnamon.

 

Delcious homemade feta cheese and parsley poğaça
poğaça

As usual the amounts are somewhat variable…

2 eggs and 1 white (keep the yolk for brushing the tops)

15fl or /pt warm milk.

1 square of yeast.

1 tablespoon sugar

250ml oil

250gr margarine ( block)

1.5 teaspoon salt. (Depending on your filling you could add a seasoning, cumin, mixed herbs etc.)

250 grams yoghurt

As much flour as is needed.

Fillings as desired make sure not “wet” experiment with sweet as well as savoury.

Mix sugar, yeast and milk together until it doubles in quantity.

Add in all the other ingredients, adding flour gradually until the mix leaves the bowl clean.

Leave to rise in warm place for about an hour.

Then pull individual pieces from the dough and roll into balls in your hand.

Make a hole in centre with your finger and put in filling. Press the dough over the hole. Place closed side down. Brush with beaten egg. Place in over at 200˚ until risen and brown and when tapped underneath sound hollow.

Afiyet Olsun…