Turkish Night!Posted: January 8, 2013
As some of you may know, following a trip to the spellbinding Istanbul last summer, I have recently been captivated by all things Turkish, not least, the food! Therefore I was most pleased to unwrap a Turkish cookbook from under the twinkling tree on Christmas morning!
It took me less than a week to find the chance to try out some recipes on the family! I decided to keep things simple, particularly as I wasn’t in my own kitchen, and start with some fairly basic but very tasty meze dishes! Apparently, the Turkish word meze translates literally as ‘a pleasant taste’.
I picked out the following meze recipes to try; Anadolu Palitcan (baked aubergines with mint yoghurt; I love aubergines and quickly learnt to pick anything out with patlican in the name on menus while in Istanbul!), Aci domates ezmsi (chilli tomato paste) and Cacik (cucmber and mint yoghurt dip). These were to be served as a first course with my yoghurty prawns on toast (not exactly fitting with the Turkish theme, but a request had been put in and who am I to say no! Although they do at least come with yoghurt!)
For the Anadolu Patlican
- 4 small aubergines (not always easy to get in this country, otherwise 2 of the larger variety will do)
- 4 tablespoons thick yoghurt (I used a bit of a mix of natural yoghurt and Greek yoghurt, you could of course try making your own! – I’ve earmarked this as a future project..)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste with sea salt
- bunch of fresh mint, chopped
- salt and black pepper to season
Bake the aubergines at 200 degrees. After 15 minutes, take them out the oven and slit them lengthways into halves. Put them back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes, maybe a little longer if using larger aubergines. They are ready when the flesh is mashable into a pulp.
Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic, lemon juice and mint, and season to taste. When the aubergines are ready, mash the flesh into a sort of dip-like consistenmcy and spoon the cool minty yoghurt on top, serve straight away.
For the Aci domates ezmesi
- 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
- Large handful of freshly chopped ripe tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 hot green chilli pepper, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- The juice and rind of half a lemon
- Bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt and black pepper to season
Mix the tomato puree with the olive oil until smooth. Add the tomatoes, onion, chilli, garlic, lemon juice and rind, most of the parsley and salt and pepper. We then blitzed the mixture with the mortar and pestle to get a slightly smoother finish. When ready to serve, top with the remaining chopped parsley. This was our favourite, it’s really simple to make yet produces such a punch of flavour, it really smacks you in the face with delicious spicy tomatoy earthiness. I made this around an hour and a half ahead of eating and found the flavours developed really well so it’s a great one to prepare in advance!
For the Cacik
Serves 4 very generously, we had plenty left over for lunchtime dipping the next day!
- 1 cucumber,very finely chopped
- Around 1/2 pint natural yoghurt
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with sea salt
- Bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Finely chop the cucumber then lay out on a plate and salt well, leave for 5 minutes then rinse (this helps drain excess water from the cucumber). Crush the garlic with the salt then beat into the yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper then add the chopped mint and rinsed cucumber. Mmm perfect tasty moreish cooling minty cucumbery yoghurty goodness! This actually was the perfect partner to the punchy, earthy spicy tomatoeyness of the aci domates ezmesi.
We served these with warm just-out-the-grill toasted pitta strips – perfect for dipping!
A delicious and healthy feast 🙂
For the main course, I revisited my take on the Turkish Kebab
Continuing to be inspired by all things Turkish, we drew on the pomegranate to give our prossecco a little Turkish flavour that evening! Perfectly pearly jewels of sweet juicy crunch bobbing along on the gently fizzing bubbles, cheers!