In Istanbul on September 18, the members of AFOT’s Wine, Cuisine and Culture tour were treated to a presentation on Turkey’s Culinary Heritage by Ms Banu Ozden and a cooking demonstration in the kitchen of the spectacular Nar Restaurant. Here are the recipes for the dishes we watched being prepared.
Recipes from Turkey’s Culinary Heritage
MUNG BEAN SALAD
Mung beans 250 g
Extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup
Pomegranate molasses ¼ cup
Roasted red peppers 2 each
Parsley ½ bunch
Salt as needed
• Boil the mung beans in a large pot with lots of water until softened for about 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the beans keep intact. In order to stop the cooking process and maintain the green color, place the mung beans immediately in iced water after boiling.
• De-seed the roasted red peppers and take off the stem. Cut the peppers into long strips first and then into small squares.
• Separate the parsley leaves and chop them finely.
• In a large bowl, combine the boiled mung beans, red pepper squares and chopped parsley.
• In a separate bowl to make the dressing, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, organic pomegranate molasses, and salt. Add this to the mung bean mixture. This dish may be made right before service, or could be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
Note: Mung beans do not require soaking before hand.
As a food souvenir you should definitely buy Pomegranate molasses before leaving Turkey.
¼ bunch parsley
4 cups water
½ loaf of stale bread
1 cup of milk
9 oz. walnuts
2 teaspoon of mild paprika
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 teaspoon of coriander
3 teaspoons salt
• First cut the legs off the chicken. Peel 1 carrot and cut into thick diagonal slices. Divide 1 onion into 4, cut the stalks off ¼ bunch of parsley. Put the chicken into a deep pot without the legs, add the onion, carrot and the stalks of parsley and about water. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes over a medium heat.
• Cut the crusts off the stale bread and slice the crumb, then soak in the milk. In the meantime, don’t forget to skim the chicken occasionally as it cooks. Take handfuls of the softened bread and squeeze out the liquid well. Place in a food processor. Add the walnuts and paprika and blend well.
• Pound garlic in a mortar.
• Once the chicken is well cooked, take it out of the pan and leave to cool.
• Heat the ground walnut mixture over a very low heat, crushing it as it heats. Place it in a muslin cloth and squeeze out the walnut oil into a bowl.
• Return the mixture to the pan over the heat, and thin it by adding 3 ladles of the chicken stock. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of coriander and the garlic, and bring to the boil. When the sauce has thickened, add ½ cup of the milk and boil for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
•Separate the chicken flesh from the bones and shred. Add 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and then pour the warm sauce over the chicken. Mix well and using a spoon spread onto a serving dish. Drizzle the walnut oil over it and your Circassian chicken is ready to eat.
MEATBALLS IN A CRACKED WHEAT SHELL (İÇLİ KÖFTE)
For the stuffing mix:
250 g minced veal and lamb combined
100 g butter
50 g walnuts
50 g pine nuts
50 g currants
¼ bunch mint
¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt, divided
To taste black pepper
For the shell:
500 g fine bulgur
200 g minced veal and lamb combined
• Put 500g bulgur into a large bowl, add enough water to cover, and wait for half an hour until the grains swell.
• Soak 50g of currants separately.
• Coarsely chop 50g of pine nuts.
• Crush 50g of walnuts with a rolling pin.
• Then chop 4 cloves of garlic and 1 onion finely.
• Put two knobs of butter in a frying pan and sauté the chopped pine nuts, then add the garlic. After one minute add the onions and continue to sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes, taking care not to burn them.
• Add in 250g minced meat and sauté until the juices have evaporated. Then add the currants and crushed walnuts, and after a quick stir add black pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon of salt, paprika and cumin. Stir over a very low heat for another 1 to 2 minutes. While our stuffing cools, we chop the parsley and mint leaves and then mix these into the stuffing as well. For the stuffing, mix the 200g minced veal into the bulgur in a large bowl. Add a little more water and knead it to a smooth dough. Now it is time to begin shaping the içli köfte.
• Wet the palms of your hands, take a lump of the dough, and roll into a ball. Then hollow them out using the middle finger of the other hand. Take a small spoonful of the stuffing, fill the meatball and close it up carefully. Then roll the ball in your hand again to firm and shape it. It is important to make sure that the stuffing is completely enclosed, otherwise the balls will split during the cooking. Even if your stuffed meatballs crack on your first attempt, a little practice will make perfect, so don’t give up.
• Put sufficient amount of water in a pot and let it boil. Then place the içli köftes one by one, do not overcrowd the pot. Cook until the outer shell turns whitish color about 5 to 6 minutes.
• Place the meatballs on kitchen paper and when the excess water has been absorbed they are ready to serve. Now you can sit down to enjoy your fragrant içli köfte.
STUFFED VINE LEAVES
9 oz. preserved vine leaves, boiled in water for 2 minutes to remove the salt
9 oz. rice
3 white onions
1 whole carrot
2 oz. pine nuts
2 oz. currants
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon mild paprika
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried mint
½ bunch of parsley
½ bunch dill
2 teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cups olive oil, divided
• First we put 250g rice in a deep bowl and leave to soak in water for half an hour.
• Then soak 50g currants in a separate bowl of water for half an hour.
• Thinly slice 2 onions. Finely chop the parsley and place in a small bowl. Then finely chop the dill.
• Now drain the softened currants. Stir the rice, drain it, rinse well under running water and drain again. Heat up 1 cup of olive oil in a pan, add pine nuts and stir over the heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the thinly sliced onions and sauté on a low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
• In the meantime get some hot water ready. Empty the rice into the pan and stir the rice until the grains become transparent. Add the currants and give it another stir or two. Add black pepper, paprika, allspice, cinnamon, dried mint, 1 tsp. salt and sugar, and mix well together. Put in 2 ladlefuls, or 1 cup, of water, and stir. Then place the lid on the pan, turn off the heat and leave the mixture to stand.
• Cut the lemons and slice into rings. Slice 1 onion and carrots coarsely. Arrange the lemon, onion and carrot slices on the bottom of a pan and cover with some of the vine leaves.
• Put the rice mixture into a mixing bowl, add the finely chopped parsley and dill and combine thoroughly.
• Place the leaves flat, rough side up, and place a spoonful of the mixture in the centre of the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the stuffing and carefully roll up to form a cylindrical package. Pack the stuffed leaves close together over the lemon and vine leaves in the pan, forming a circle around the edge, and then filling the centre.
• When all the stuffed leaves have been arranged, add 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 ladlefuls, or 1 cup, of hot water, and 1 cup of olive oil, then cover with a few vine leaves. Cover with a circle of dampened, greaseproof paper with a small a circle cut out of the middle, and weigh it down with a china plate.
• Cover and cook for 45 minutes over a medium heat. Then set aside to cool without removing the lid. Arrange decoratively on a serving dish, garnished with lemon slices.
GRILLED AUBERGINE SALAD
3 aubergines, grilled and softened
2 red bell peppers, grilled, skin and seeds removed
1 yellow bell peppers, grilled, skin and seeds removed
¼ bunch of parsley, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves of garlic, made into a paste
1 teaspoon of salt
½ cup of olive oil
• Peel the grilled aubergines, cut off the stalks, and cut into small cubes and place in a large bowl.
• Chop the red and yellow bell peppers into small cubes and add to the eggplant in the bowl.
• Into the bowl add garlic paste, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped parsley. Mix well and adjust the seasoning if necessary.