My Mouth-Watering, Indulgence-Worthy, Im-Going-To-Gain-20lb Turkish Food Favorites

Wow, that title was a mouthful.

… Get it?

One of the questions I get asked most often when people find out I’m foreign is “what’s your favorite Turkish food?”.  I never know what to say, because I can’t really chose a stand-alone favorite.  I do have a few dishes ready that I list off when this inevitable query is mentioned.  Some days I prefer one over the other, but it’s all just on a whim.  Honestly, whenever I see one of these dishes on the table, I immediately have a smile on my face!

These are my top ten favorite foods, broken down into their respective categories.  I didn’t include things that we also eat in the US (like kumpir/baked potato and the like).

Main Dish

1. DOLMA: If you don’t like dolma, we can’t be friends.  A variety of vegetables fall under the category “dolma”, but they all have one thing in common: they are stuffed with rice, herbs, spices, and sometimes meat (depending on your recipe).  Boiled/steamed,  the rice is cooked and the flavors of the vessel veggie are trapped inside.  You can find pepper, onion, tomato, eggplant, dried eggplant, grape leaf (aka sarma), and cabbage dolmas, among others.  My favorites are sweet red pepper, dried eggplant, and sarma!

Oh,  the remaining water after boiling makes an excellent soup with a few additions!
2. ISKENDER: A shaved meat dish similar to döner, these meat is laid on a bed of soft pita bread and drowned in tomato sauce, chhhsssss melted butter,  and a side of plain yogurt.  Unfortunately this meal tends to be a bit pricey compared to its sandwich counter part.  For us it is a special indulgence… A delicious, fattening indulgence.
3. KARNIYARIK: Lightly fried eggplant halves filled with a ground beef mixture then baked.  There is something about fried eggplant (without breading)  that is just… Amazing. So soft, so velvety, somewhat sweet…mhm.  Whenever we eat something fried, we usually serve it with yogurt and a salad. The spices, herbs, onion, and other additions to the meat mixture make it flavorful without being overwhelming and losing the flavor of the eggplant.
4. KÖZLEME PATLICAN: Speaking of eggplant… Fire roasted eggplant.  Oh. My. Gosh. You can’t jar the flavor of eggplants actually cooked over an open flame.  We roasted a few kilos of eggplant from our garden last summer and froze it for the winter.  I prefer mine drowned in garlic yogurt, mixed with olive oil, parsley, mint, cumin, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  I mean,  dang. Hubby likes it without the yogurt and adding tomato. But… But… Garlic yogurt!
5. BEZELYE YEMEĞİ :We all remember pushing peas around our plates as kids… But no one will be turning up their nose at this! A classic sulu (with water) food, bezelye yemeği consists of chopped and sautéed onions, carrots, and potatoes, swimming in a tomatoe-y broth with the peas happily joining in the fray. This is my favorite of the “standard” (I call sulu foods standard because everything can be made like this lol) Turkish meals. You can also add ground beef!

Breakfast

6. BİBERLİ LOR :Nom. Nom. Nom. This is a great way to give in to my cheese addiction. Lor is basically ricotta cheese, and biberli lor is ricotta cheese mixed in with sautéed peppers. Heat it all up together and make sure there is plenty of olive oil! I hope you aren’t worried about gaining a few pounds…
7. ÇILBUR :This mix sounds weird but I swear it is delicious. Pan cooked eggs (no milk, not beaten, and not quite fried… Just oil and eggs cooked until it’s not runny) smothered in plain yogurt (and if you have caught on to my preferences… Garlic is an option for a lunch time meal). I like to drizzle a sauce made from butter and salça (like manti) on top.

Dessert

8. MUHALLEBI : Basically a very light, plain pudding that I just love.  It’s almost fluffy because it’s made with rice starch instead of corn or wheat.  Add a little sakiz, and I’m in heaven!
9. AYVA TATLISI : Poached quince with cinnamon and whipped cream.  Hello, delcious!
10. BAKLAVA : No list of delicious Turkish foods is complete without baklava. I’m pretty picky about it, though! I like mine to be crunchy, flaky, and not drown in sugar syrup!  And while you’re at it, make it with walnuts.  I know for some it is sacrilege, but I really like walnuts…

Anyway, when you get the chance give these a try! I hope you didn’t gain a few kg just reading!

Honorable mentions (you’ll have to look up for yourself!): Cig kofte, mercimek kofte, patlican yemegi, kisir, bamya yemegi, yayla corbasi…ok I need to stop or I’ll list everything!

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A Very Turkish Taco

I love Mexican food. 

But not just Mexican, that tex-mex/ ‘Murica style Mexican that you get at chain Mexican restaurants (Tijuana Flats, anyone?). 

Turkey, being on the other side of the world from both America and Mexico, doesn’t really have the comfort foods I’m looking for, by way of taco and salsa.  So, I’ve endeavored to make the ultimate mash-up: Turkish/Mexican/American hybrid! And so the Taco Böreği was born.  This may already be a thing, but the way I do it is likely not.  Basically, fill a kol böreği with taco meat+seasoning and grated cheese.  

For a less basic explanation,  scroll right on down. 

Taco Böreği (for 4 large portions) 

Ingredients:

2 yufka

1/4 kg ground beef

1 large onion, chopped 

4 Charleston peppers (long green peppers), choppee

2 tomatoes, chopped

Approx 1c water

2tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

Grated cheese, as much as you like (I like Bergama tulum, 2.5c)

Dollop of olive oil for cooking

Cumin

Salt

Black pepper

Crushed pepper flakes

1/2c milk

1 small egg

1/3c oil for brushing

Preparation

1. Cook onions and pepper with a dash of salt in a dollop of olive oil.  The meat will also produce oil, so don’t put too much! 

2. Once the veggies are nearly translucent, add the meat and break it up in the pan. Add the water and chopped tomatoes and mix well, bringing to a simmer for 6 or 7 minutes or until the beef is browned. Add the spices as you like, the tomato paste, and garlic. Let cook for another two minutes or until the paste has soaked up the water and oil. 

3. Grease a round dish (approximately 9in diameter) and whisk the oil, milk, and egg into a wash in a separate dish.  Open the yufka on the table and spread the wash over it (you can be conservative, as the meat mix is already oily). Cut the yufka down the middle, forming 2 equal sized half moons.  Fold the rounded, uncut side of the yufka toward the cut end, 1/3 of the way in.  Now you have an, approx 2 inch double layer of yufka and 3 inches single layer.  Take a spoon full of meat and strew it along the double layer, end to end.  Sprinkle cheese across the top of the meat.  Now roll the yufka into a tube, holding the meat inside. 

4. Twist the yufka into a pinwheel shape in the dish, adding to the tail end with the remaining 3 yufka halves (filling them as described in step 3).it’s OK if it doesn’t fill the dish.

5. Dab the egg wash on top of the yufka so that it will brown.  Pop in the oven at 200c for approximately 30 minutes or until the bottom and top is brown. 

Serve with salsa, yogurt, lettuce, guacamole… Or any taco toppings you love! 

Afiyet olsun! 

Check back next week for the recipes to my roasted pepper salsa and peach chutney salsa! 

Every time is a good time for POGACA!

Pogaca (turkish: poğaça/poh-ach-ah) is one of my favorite things to make and to eat!  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, you name it, pogaca is appropriate.  Along with being versatile, it is very simple to make!  Known by other names in other countries, pogaca is a bready pocket filled with anything you can think of.  Try out this recipe next time you get a craving for a little “I dont know what”!

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Ingredients:
  • Dough
    • 3c all purpose flour (approx.)salt to taste
    • 1/2tsp baking powder
    • 1/2c canola oil (or olive oil)
    • 1/2c yogurt
    • 7tbsp butter (softened)
    • 1 egg (white only)
  • Filling
    • feta and spinach
    • potato and onion
  • Top (wash)
    • 1 egg yolk, brushed
    • sesame or nigella seeds
Preparation
  1. Put butter in a bowl to soften. Once soft, cut in the oil, yogurt, and egg white
  2. Put flour, salt,  and baking powder into a large bowl, blending well
  3. Forming a well in the center, mix wet and dry ingredients until a smooth, non-sticky dough is formed.  (you may add a little more flour if needed)
  4. pinch egg sized pieces from the dough, shape into a ball, then flatten with your palm. Do not make the dough too thin or it wont bake right (about 1/4″ thick).
  5. Place a dollop of filling in one side of the flattened circle. Fold two sides of the dough together, pinching it to seal, forming a half moon shape.
  6. brush the egg yolks on the top (one side) of the half moons (or you can make them into balls if you are feeling skillfull), sprinkling seeds to finish.
  7. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes in a convection oven, 30 minutes in standard.

Spinach Filling (pictured):

  1. Cover the bottom of a pot with a little water, dissolving a chicken buillion cube in it (or use a little homemade stock)
  2. Wash and chop spinach/onion/ and garlic. Put all vegetables into the pot and steam on medium until the spinach is very wilted and the onions are cooked.
  3. Drain off the juice and cook until dry, patting with a paper towel as needed.  Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste.
  4. Before applying filling, mix in feta cheese

Potato and Onion Filling:

  1. Peel and grate potato and onion, saute in olive oil until soft and translucent. (when transferring grated potato and onion to the pan, be sure to squeeeeeze out the potato and onion juice, making the grated veggies drier- reducing chances of oil popping)
  2. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, parsley, and dill.