Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Fried Liver, Chopped Liver and Ciğer Kavurma

chopped liver

Someone perceived as being of little value or worth, as evidenced by being ignored when others are getting attention. Usually used as a semi-rhetorical question. Origin probably in American Jewish humor of the early-to-mid 20th century.
"What am I, chopped liver?" "What do I look like, chopped liver?"

I HATE liver, couldnt eat it as a child when it was hidden in some mystery gravy dressed up with onions and I cant stand to look or touch it now.  How can I eat pate? Chopped liver or Turkish liver? I dont know maybe it is my body craving it to get some element that is missing in my diet.  Or maybe it is because it is just so delicous!

I was first served Kavurma in a doner and loved it, I didnt know what it was but I knew I liked it.  I was horrified when I realised much later that it was my dreaded foe Liver.  I also ate it at my husbands cousins house.  He had served it as a special treat for me and added in some heart and other internal organs because he likes me.  There is a traddition in Turkey that if you have a near death experience and obviously live to tell the tale you kill an animal and give the meat to your neigbours whilst you only keep the internal parts for yourself.  That is what this man did.  He had gone to visit his parents up in a high mountain village and caught the dolmus (Mini bus) back home.  They had nearly made it all the way when a huge truck ploughed into the side of the bus.  His wife and 5 children all got some pretty serious cuts and scraps but no one was killed.  Thank God for that.  So the meal they served to me was special as they were very thankful they were all still together and they wanted to thank God as well.  I sat on the floor and saw everything that went in it including a heart and some white stuff plus the liver.  I told myself I would take enough to be polite then take my leave of the table.  After the first few precautious nibbles I was hooked.  I now make this (just with liver) for my family.  Even my baby likes it.

I love pate even the cheap stuff out of the tube, when I make it I usually make one with mushrooms, walnuts and chicken livers with a splash of something to deepen the flavours.  Chopped Liver is very nice and is suitable for alot of different occasions.  You can dress it up to serve at a cocktail party or just spread it on toast for a good boost in the mornings.

Heres the recipe for Turkish Ciğer Kavurma.  Normally calf liver is used but you can substitute with chicken as I do since it is more readily available.
500gr Liver
2 large onions
2 or 3 green sweet or hot chillies
1 bunch of parsley
2 tlbs pepper or tomato paste
chilli powder or paprika
1 tsp cumin

I wash the liver very well and let it sit in a bowl of water with added salt for about 30 minutes.  Rinse and drain well.  Since I dont like touching the liver I use my food processer to make this dish.  This makes it quick and easy.

I start with the onions and pulse that a couple of times then add in the green chilies then pulse again.  Add the parsley next and process until it is finely chopped.  You can add the the paste, spices and salt at this time then add the liver.  I process the liver until it is fairly smooth, but that is personal choice you can leave it a bit textured if you prefer.

I dont like using alot of oil but for this I make an exception and use more than I normally would.  I would recomend about 1/4 of a cup.  Heat your frypan with the oil until hot.  Add the liver and cook until done - I probably overcook mine as I dont want to be gagging on any raw bits.  That would be about 30 minutes so cook it until you are happy with it.

Serve this with flat bread, salad and pickled chilies.

Fried Liver, Chopped Liver and Ciğer Kavurma on Foodista


  1. Lovely story about the liver and heart being served like that. I didn't know about that.

    I love eating liver in Turkey but like you, I also remember those dark days when my mum would bake wedges of liver in the oven with onion gravy and then make me eat it. :)

  2. I tried to comment earlier, but I think it disappeared?

    I'd try this dish if YOU made it for me. But otherwise, never, never, never. Liver and I are not friends! ;P

  3. Julia maybe it is regional about giving a sacrifice to Thank God or it might be more blanket. My husband is from the Adana region.
    Michelle if you come I wont be traumatising you with this meal. I will make you a banquet instead.

  4. I like to soak lamb/calves liver in milk overnight as it mellows it really well. The next important step is to peel off the membrane, this keeps it from curling and stays soft.Then just cook it on high nice and quickly. I like it just cooked through, but most restaurants serve it pink. If you overcook it it will go tough and like sawdust.
    I think your recipe sounds like a nice mix.

  5. I will let you do the peeling and cooking as that is one thing I cannot do(ewwwww) The Turks soak the liver in milk then crumb or flour it and fry it quickly with most serving on the pink side. This is also served cold(chunks of cold fried liver)as part of Meze(small plates)