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 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.

Un kurabiye – Turkish shortbread

These delicious little shortbreads or kurabiye  are easy to make and go so well with a Turkish coffee or cup of tea. I am giving you the basic recipe but I also ( of course) add to that. I add orange or lemon peel and a little orange juice. I have added dry fruit, I especially love cranberries. I have also used a mixture of flour and ground almonds and although nice can be a little crumbly.

Basic Recipe:

  • I cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups flour ( + 1 teasp baking powder)
  • 2 x 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teasp vanilla essence or alternate flavouring.


  • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl
  • Add the butter & vanilla ( I add peel at this point if I am using it)
  • Cream together
  • Slowly sift flour and baking powder in, gently mixing with a wooden spoon.
  • Once combined, take one teasp of dough and shape into a ball.
  • Place on a baking tray with a little space between.
  • Cook in 160 deg C for 15-20 mins until firm yet they remain pale in colour.
  • Dust with icing sugar straight from the oven. let cool and dust again with icing sugar.

I made them some years ago with a Turkish neighbour of mine for her birthday tea. We had spent the afternoon baking and preparing food, there was about 4 or 5 of us ladies and we had a great time. It was summer and hot so after everything was ready we decided to go shower and change. When I returned I found her husband and brother sat in the salon looking quite woebegone. Ayse, my friend was really giving them a telling off, then I saw why; both had white moustaches! Yep they had been eating the kurabiye and the icing sugar had coated their real moustaches, they looked so funny.

Now the Turkish people don’t often make variations as the basic recipe is so delicious but I cannot help myself and the feedback I have had from family and Turkish friends has been very positive. In fact feeling nostaglic for a taste of  orange un kurabiye, so i am off to make myself some.

Afiyet olsun


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


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

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

Salep with a touch of Kahramanmaras ice-cream

Salep served topped with cinnamon on a cold wintery day
Cups of Delicious Salep

I had my first taste of a special Turkish drink on a cold wintery day in Istanbul about 15 years ago. I was crossing the Bosphorus for the first time from East, Anatolian, to the west, European side. Despite it being cold and snowy I was outside absorbing the magnificent skyline, the minarets, the mosque the palace, all seen before via web sites but nothing was like that first view. I have been to Istanbul before but always flown and drove so not had this experience of the crossing of the Bosphorus that many in history share. The skyline now also holds fantastic high-rise buildings but they do not diminish the magnificence of the view. I was literally shivering when my husband brought me a milky looking drink in a plastic cup. I did not really plan on drinking it (I don’t like milk) just holding it warmed my hands!  The aroma from the drink was rich and not milky it had a spicy element to it that I couldn’t place at first. Then I sipped it. Oh it was nectar, a little taste of luxury and it felt so smooth to swallow.  The spice was cinnamon and the drink Salep. I have drunk salep many times since but will never forget that first introduction.

Salep urn on the streets in Istanbul

Salep has a long history in Eastern culture being popular in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East. Different areas tend to use slightly different flavourings rose or orange water being popular with Arab Salep drinkers while Turks prefer vanilla. The main ingredient to Salep is an orchid tuber, although now commercially produced salep is readily available and much better for conservation than using the ever decreasing orchids. In Turkey you traditionally buy your salep from the cake shops and it is often prepared in large brass urns. My favourite way to drink it is with a piece of the very special kahramanmaraş ice cream placed in it before the cinnamon is sprinkled on top; a fabulous combination of hot, cold, creamy and spicy…wonderful.  If you fancy having a go at making this at home have a look at this site, interesting facts and the recipe is at the end. 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