This past summer I along with most of the women in Antep dried vegetables in readiness for the winter. This is part of what the average Antep housewife has to do part of thier seasonal kitchen rituals. I am sure if you have ever seen a tourist photo of Turkey you would have seen the beautiful photos of dried vegetables hanging on strings at the spice stores. I am not a new comer to drying vegetables and fruit. I used to have a dehydrator and make soup mixes, dried bananas and roll ups etc. These Turkish women haven't heard of a dehydrator so they rely on the sun and dry hundreds of kilos of vegetables. My neighbours across the road had quite a large household as it compromised the mother, 2 of her children their spouses and children. She was also the mother of several other children and a herd of grandchildren. Not all of them live in the same city so these women would sit together for hours and hours and dry these vegetables for their children and grandchildren all over Turkey. This is no exaggeration but I am sure they dried over 1000 kilos of eggplants and several hundred kilos of peppers. My effort paled in light of theirs, as I dried just over 100 hot peppers and over 200 small eggplants. I used an apple corer and a knife to skin the eggplants, then with needle and thread you string them up and place in the sun until dry. Nothing is wasted I also dried the insides and have used them in various meals. The peppers are very straight forward to dry as all you have to do is core and seed them then string and hang them in the sun as well. Other vegetables my neighbours dried were zucchinis(for stuffing), some kind of marrow and tomatoes. I dried tomatoes but mine were for putting into olive oil and garlic to be eaten with cheese and olives but my neighbours seeded the tomatoes and took out as much flesh as possible and dried the shells. If any of you out there have a dehydrator I would recommend you do just that with your summer bounty. Dry tomato shells and use a mix of tomato, meat and rice with a bit of oregano to stuff the shells with would be, divine.
In this very used tray (I have scrubbed this, what is left isn't shifting) are about 20 dried peppers and eggplants. I usually boil the kettle and pour the water over these and leave them for 1 or more hours, depending on how much time I have to spare. Then use a rice mixture to fill the veggies with. Some regions in Turkey like the Black Sea and Istanbul use a mixture of meat, currants and pine nuts to fill their dolmas with but since my husband is from Adana that is the way I generally prepare ours.
It depends on how many veggies you want to fill as to how much rice you will need. I am also an over stuffer; it has taken me years to realise less is best in some things and filling dolma is one of those occasions. Taking that into consideration I now only fill 3/4 of the way sometimes less if I haven't made enough filling.
I will give you the recipe for 8 small size capsicums or sweet long chilies.
1 cup of rice
3 tbs chili or tomato paste
pinch of cumin
oil - about a quarter of a cup
(the above is the traditional recipe, I will give you some additions to add if you like)
1 finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
In a bowl add all the ingredients and mix well. Cut the tops off the chilies or capsicums and deseed. Wash well and fill each with the rice mixture until 3/4 full. Place the veggies in a small saucepan or frying pan. Fill the saucepan with water until it nearly comes to the tops of the veggies, place the lid on the saucepan. Bring the water to the boil then turn down and simmer on medium heat until the rice is cooked (probably 40 minutes). Check the water level as you don't want to run out of water and burn everything. Leave the dolma to cool down in the saucepan with the lid covered after you have taken them off the heat. Serve with a bowl of Cacık, salad and bread.
For those who would rather use meat
150 gr minced meat
350 gr rice
salt - pepper
1tbs pine nuts
1tbs pomegranate syrup
Mix well and cook as above.
What do you do in Summer to get ready for the coming winter?