Thursday 31 March 2011

Eggplant Kebab

I really like eggplant and am thinking about writing a book something along the lines of '101 things to do with an eggplant' or 'Have your way with me' from the eggplant diaries.  There are soooo many things you can make with this wonderful vegetable from a simple salad mixed in with garlic yogurt to making meatballs to wrapping delicate morsels up in grilled slices.  Eggplant sellers at the local bazaars are out in full force too, yelling and screaming out the benifits of thier wares.  Last time we went to the bazaar I bought a kilo and decided to make this very easy and very impressive looking dish.

250gr minced meat
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
3 or 4 average long eggplants
3 or 4 sliced tomatoes
2 tbsp sweet chilli or tomato paste
1 cup of water
1tsp dried mint
chilli powder

This dish has eggplant slices, tomato slices and meatballs lined up alternatively in your baking tray and for that reason looks great served up for a special dinner.

First make the meatballs by taking the minced meat, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and knead very well until it  has a nice paste consistency or you could do that in your food processor if preferred.   Roll the meat mixture into balls about the size of a walnut.  Keep to one side.

Take the eggplants and slice, I usually cut mine at about 2 fingers width, some do it a bit thicker I prefer mine a bit thinner.  Do the same with the tomatoes.  Now get a slice of eggplant and put into your baking tray vertically.   Then take a tomato slice and do the same, then add a meatball.  REPEAT until your tray if full.  Add the tomato paste, 1 cup of water, mint, chilli if desired and a splash of oil into a small bowl and mix well. Pour over the eggplants in the tray .  Bake in a hot oven until the eggplant and meat are cooked.

This is nice served with salad, bread and ayran.

You can also have this cooked on skewers and you will find this on most restaurant menus in Gaziantep.  İt is also nice like that.  So you would cut the eggplant slices a bit thicker and put eggplant on the skewer then a meatball and alternate.  Cook over coals.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Poached Eggs with Garlic Yogurt - Çılbır

This is a very easy and quick breakfast, lunch or brunch dish. It is composed of garlic yogurt and poached eggs, served with either toast or turkish pide and some strong tea.

2 cups of yogurt
4 eggs
4 cloves of garlic, or more
salt and pepper
tomato paste

First put the yogurt into a small bowl and stir well.  Add in the crushed garlic cloves and stir well.  Put to one side and then crack your eggs into a frying pan half filled with simmering water.  Cover with a lid and gently simmer until the eggs are cooked.  I like mine fully cooked whilst some prefer thiers runny so the cooking time will vary.  Using a spatula, take out the eggs and put onto individual plates, either one or two per person.  Then cover with some of the garlic yogurt.  Taking a good slosh of oil and some tomato paste mix together then gently heat in a small pan.  Once this mixture has joined to become a sauce pour over the top of the yogurt and serve.  If you dont want to use the oil sauce you can sprinkle over some dill and or chili flakes instead.

Monday 28 March 2011

Herbal Tea

Turkish people love tea.  They drink thier tea out of cute little glasses that are in the shape of tulips.  Usually strong and sweet. Not only do Turks drink strong black tea but they are also great believers in herbal teas.  When I went to visit my husbands uncle up in the mountains I was served tea but it was coloured one was a pale yellow, another a bright green and another almost clear.  It was cold the pot belly stove roaring away and everyone was feeling the cold.  Someone was coughing another was sleeping and the rest were all chatting away.  I had no idea what the different teas were, so over the course of the evening  they served me one of each.  

Sage Tea - The sage grown up in the mountains is different to what I was used to seeing so I didnt recogise it when they showed it to me.  They said it is good tonic for stomach problems and for general wellbeing. I have also heard that is very good for nerves or during times of stress. Click here for more information about the benifits of Sage.

Mint Tea - I have a strong aversion to mint.  I cant stand the smell of it especially if it is artifical or spearmint. I had to be gracious and drink this as many eyes were upon me.  Mint tea they say will warm you up and is very good for the digestion and also for the stomach.  Click here.

Apple Tea - Apple tea is sold at all the tourist places throughout İstanbul and the Grand Bazaar.  It is given mainly to people who have a cold or flu to stop coughing and to loosen flem.  It is also good for loosing weight as it speeds up your metabolisim.  I have made this when I had a bad cold and I really do think it helped. The villagers up in the mountain usually peel one or two apples and then boil the peel for a few minutes then drink it.  You can use dried apple as well.

Linden Tea - This tea is very popular, Im not a big fan but will drink a glass or two on occasion.  It also is supposed to be very good for cold and flu sufferers.  Click here for more information.

Rose Hip Tea - This tea is given to children alot for the high vitamin c content and maybe also because it is bright red.  My youngest son will drink this as he loves anything red.  

Licorice Tea - This is generally not made as a tea but as a cold drink.  I will drink it hot like tea but everyone just looks at me strangely.  You can buy this in two forms at the local markets.  The root which looks like a normal stick and the hairy offshoots..  I generally make tea from the root and the cold drink from the other.  Licorice is a wonderful drink, good for a summers evening.  Has fantastic anti inflamatory properties and as most of us would know is very good for coughs and breathing complaint since it is usually the main ingredient of various brands of cough mixture.  You can also see bags of liquorice tea being sold on the streets during Ramazan.

Cinnamon Tea - This is a nice tea as well.  Turns a nice deep red colour.  This is supposed to be very good for those with diabeties.  Just put a stick of cinamon in a few cups of water and boil for a few minutes.  Drink 3 glasses a day for 10 days.  Have a break for 7 days then repeat.

There are quite a few other teas out there with special mixtures being made at the numerous herbalist shops.  Good for all sorts of illnesses and complaints. You can go to most areas and find one with the proprietor willing to here all about your aches and pains.

I will give you this recipe for an apple tea that is supposed to help you shed all those unwanted kilos.

1 apple cut into quaters
1 lemon cut into quaters
1 stick of cinnamon
4 black pepper seeds
3-4 cloves
big pinch of linden tea or maybe half a tea bag
2 litres of water

Put it all together in a saucepan and boil until the apple and lemon are very soft.  Squeeze out the lemon and apple.  Drink hot or cold. 

Let me know if the tea works and how many kilos you all loose.

Monday 14 March 2011

Blogger Banned in Turkey

Hello to all, I haven't been posting any recipes as Blogger has been banned in Turkey again.  I can still post and look at my dashboard but it isn't as easy as it was.  Blogger must have found a way around how Blogger is banned for us still to be able to use it.  I will endeavour to post today and continue, if all else fails I have copied the recipes and will send all my posts from here to my Wordpress site at

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Dolma, Stuffed Dried Peppers and Eggplants


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
1tbs mint
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
pinch cumin
salt - pepper
1tbs currants
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?

Dolma, Stuffed Dried Peppers and Eggplants on Foodista