Tuesday 31 May 2011

Bici Bici

Bici Bici is a local desert, served on the street as not many still make this at home.  It is nice and refreshing on a hot day.  It is a basic firm pudding squares in a rose flavored syrup.

200gr of Corn or wheat starch
red food colouring
1tbsp rose water
shaved ice about 1 litre
1 litre of basic sugar syrup

Put the corn starch into a saucepan and slowly add in water over high heat.  Add enough water so that the starch becomes a pudding consistency.  Pour into a shallow baking dish.  Cool and put in the fridge.  When cold cut into small cubes.  Put into serving dishes. 

Make the sugar syrup and cool.  Add in the food colouring and rose water.

Add the shaved ice to the cubes.  Then pour over the red sugar syrup.  Enjoy.

If you make this with the corn starch it will gluten free.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Sac Börek

We went to visit my sister in law and while we were there she made Sac Borek.  It is named after the implement it is cooked on the Sac.  The Sac is an inverted wok that is placed on a fire and the böreks are cooked on that.  Very easy and quick to make.

Making the dough with helpers
Getting the sac hot

Putting the boreks on the sac

The stick is used to turn the boreks over

Nearly ready


How can you make these at home? very easy.  There are various fillings you can make just like for Böreks.  Potato - Onion - Spinach and Cheese - Meat etc

500gr basic bread dough

4 large par boiled potatoes - grated
oil - splash
2 tbs sweet pepper/tomato paste

Mix all the filling ingredients together.  Take walnut sized balls of dough and roll out thinly into circles.  Take a couple of tbs of filling and spread over half the circle.  Fold over and close the circle so you have a semicirlce.  Cook on hot teflon frypan until a bit of colour comes onto the dough.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Turkish Weddings. The Culture.

Most parts of Turkey still hold fast to their customs and the wedding ones are no exception.  Most marriages are still arranged.  Usually it starts with a boys mother and female members of his family going to the girls family and asking if thier son can start courting and that usually involves a whole thing around the girl serving coffee as I wrote about earlier in Kitchen Rituals.  

If all that goes well the next stage is when the boys family goes to the girls family and formally ask for her hand in marriage.  If an agreement is made they eat some kind of dessert, usually baklava.  After that a date is agreed upon for the offical engagement .  

At the engagement the couple are usually legally married as it is seen as a promise of agreement and if they decide to break the engagement they have to legally get divorced.  Most families at this stage do not consider thier daughters married until after a ceromony has finished. At the engagement rings are also exchanged and jewlery and an outfit is usually given to the bride by her prospective mother in law. Most engagements I have seen like this usually last for a year then they have the wedding ceromony where there is lots of food and dancing then the groom whisks his bride away to join thier family.  

Dancing with the Henna

The wedding itself is held by the brides family and all thier friends and relatives come to say goodbye.  Usually lasting 3 days starting on a Friday night.  The Friday night is for the women of the family and also for the grooms women folk.  On this night henna is placed on the girls hand and she is danced around and songs sung lamenting her leaving.  She is supposed to be sad and some even have to shed a tear or two.  After this henna ceremony there is usually a band with lots of dancing.  This is probably a precursor of the hens night as we know it today. 

Dancing afterward
The following day is full one with lunch and dinner being served with drummers and clarinet players on all day then more dancing at night.  After this everyone is usually exhausted.  On the Sunday morning people come and sit around usually drinking tea and waiting for the groom to come and take the bride away with his family.  This usually happens in convoy. During the Summer is the wedding season in Turkey.  Most weekends you will see long processions of cars filled to overflowing with excited people, drivers honking horns and flags and banners coming out of car windows.  These are the grooms family members coming to take the bride.  Once they get to the brides home there is a bit of dancing then they take her away usually with alot of wailing by the women of her family.

Turkish Weddings are exhausting, exciting, full of everything you could imagaine what more could you ask for.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Turkish Weddings. The People.

Beautiful Bride
People watching is always interesting and some including myself never get bored of it.  I can sit quite happily for ages and watch who comes and goes.  Faces, styles and attitude are some of the many things that make people so interesting.  Where else better to people watch than at a family wedding! It has it all. Interesting characters, romance, betrayal, drama, plots and sub plots and with all the in gossip that can put all those soap writers to shame.

Coming from a Western country to an Eastern one certainly is a culture shock in itself but when you get involved in the local culture as closely as I have is a real eye opener.  What we would consider fashion pho pahs in one country is loved and sought after in another.

We have here a couple of little girls who lived next door.  The older one asked me to take their photo.  How could I resist she was so cute and they were such good dancers.

Family Matrons dancing

Dancing on the street
After spending 3 days at a family wedding I am so full I could burst, so tired from dancing I could sleep for a week, my ears burning so much that I had to dost them several times during the course of the wedding and so full of unwanted information about everyone else that I could write several novels.  If you come to Turkey and have a chance to go to a street wedding I would recommend it. Get involved in the local culture and have a blast.

What have you learnt at a family wedding? Who is the best dancer? Who is the flashiest dresser? or just learnt how to duck at the right time?

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Turkish Weddings. The Food.

I was away last week as we had to go to a wedding.  It was a family affair in another city.  Turkish weddings are very interesting with lots of people, music and food.  This was a traditional wedding so that means that the wedding was at home in their garden and on the street where everyone danced.  All the family rallies together to make it a memorable event.  My husbands cousins daughter got married, we are removed enough to not be included in the scores of helpers that are needed to pull off such a huge event.

The food is always good and this wedding was no exception.  

As you can see it was cooked outside in huge saucepans.  One of the Aunts was in control of the whole thing.

Then the other Aunts and cousins come to help feed the few hundred guests.

Eggplant stew, Pilav, Dövme, Yüksük çorba

Despite the lack of fancy cutlery the food was fantastic and everyone was satisfied.  These kind of weddings last for 3 days.  They cook one meal on the Friday for lunch, some just serve tea.  On the Saturday is the main event as that involves 2 meals plus tea and lasts until midnight. The Sunday doesn't start too early and ends at about noon.  The celebrations shown here are just for the brides family.  The grooms family comes on the Sunday do a couple of dances and takes the bride away along with all her furniture(wedding gifts and dowry)to join their growing clan.

What did you have for your wedding meal? Chicken? Fish? Beef?

Sunday 22 May 2011

Bazaar, Local Markets

I love going to the local Bazaars.  Every neighbourhood has thier own and comes on a specific day in the week.  My local one happens to be on a Sunday which suits me as my husband can come with the trolley we use to haul everything back while I push the pram. During the warmer months they start late and close late, some as late as 9pm.  They sell everything from fresh fruit and veggies to a deli selection of the local cheeses, olives and pickles to kitchen wares, clothes, toys etc. 

I have lived in a few different areas of Turkey so have seen many different Bazaars.  They all sell what is pecular to that region down to what the region grows locally and even to what they think the locals will wear.  Even different areas in the same city can sell different items to the local Bazaar in the next neighbourhood.  That is why I try and go to a couple of different ones as sometimes I cant find what I am looking for at mine. 

Our local one is always crowded, we have gone at different times during the day and it is always full making it into a more adventerous outing.  You have little kids holding thier parents hands, screaming, crying and pushing each other or even the unsuspecting passerby.  The hawkers are screaming(yes screaming) out thier prices.  The women getting angry at not been able to get the price they want and arguing with the vendors. The colours are fantastic, the smell is lovely, the produce is bountiful and usually you can come away with your weekly purchases and still have money in your pocket.

What are your favourite markets? some places have hippy style retro things others have flea markets where you can get everyone elses preloved treasures, farmers markets were everything is fresh and local or the organic ones where you can usually sit down and have a decent healthy coffee or tea.  I personal love them all never getting tired of looking around.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Yogurtlu Bakla, Broad Beans in Yogurt

For those who are lucky enough to be able to to buy fresh broad beans here is another recipe for you to try.  Im fairly sure you havent eaten this before if you are non Turkish.  Very easy and nice and can be eaten cold.  Ive had to change my attitude on what I think should and shouldnt be served cold.  I have eaten things that I would only think to eat hot only to be surprised how nice it can be.

This can be made a couple of ways. One with just the broad beans in the pods and another with the broadbeans in the pods plus with some cooked chickpeas.  Its up to you.

500gr broadbeans in pods
500gr yogurt
5 cloves garlic, minced
(1 cup cooked chickpeas)

Chop up the broadbeans as small as you can.  Put in a saucepan, cover with water and cook until soft.  Broadbeans take a while to cook so I cook mine in the pressure cooker. Drain and serve into bowls (if you want it with chickpeas you can add those in now and stir well).  Make the garlic yogurt.  Mix in the minced garlic into the yogurt and stir well. 

Pour the garlic yogurt ontop of the beans in the bowls.  Serve.

Some people cook the beans in a meat stock.

Monday 16 May 2011

Kadayif Noodles with Cheese - Künefe

Kadayif Noodles are very versitle you can use them to make quite a few tradditional deserts or using Turkish flavours can use them to make some interesting savories.This sweet noodle dish is a bit different to the others as there are no walnuts but still has the syrup added to it at the end. This is baked in a tray and filled with cheese.  Cheese and sugar! you say. Most people rave about this saying it is wonderful.  You will have to make it and try for yourselves or go to a Turkish restaraunt. 

500gr noodles
150-200gr processed cheese
4 tbsp butter or margarine
extra butter

3 cups sugar
2 cups water
pinch of citric acid or bit of lemon juice

Make the syrup first by boiling everything together for about 10 minutes until thick.

Take your noodles on a large tray or plate and seperate.  Whilst seperating them break them up into smaller pieces.  Melt the butter and when cool pour on top of the noodles.  Using your hands make sure the noodles are covered with the melted butter.  You need to use a small baking dish for this.  Get some extra butter, be generous and oil the dish. Take half of the noodles and press into the baking dish, press down firmly so it compacts.  Break up or grate the cheese and spread over the noodle layer.  Taking the rest of the noodles put ontop of the cheese.  Press down firmly again.  Some people will use a weight to compact the whole thing.  Cook this on the highest shelf in a moderate oven.  Once it is lightly brown take out and turn out on a large plate.    Butter the baking dish again and put the Künefe into it uncooked side up.  Place it again in the oven until lightly brown.  Take out of the oven and using a soup ladle.  Ladle the syrup over the Künefe.  The syrup will be soaked up by the desert.

Serve this warm with ice cream.

I found this interesting clip showing how the noodles are made.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Pastries and Sweets

Pastane Shops are all through Turkey with as you know all regions having different specialities.  This is a typical view of a local neighbourhood Pastry shop.  They usually have mainly savory pastries as well as selling cakes and biscuits(cookies) This will be the first of a few posts about Pastanes and Tatlici as I want to show you all the various things they sell.

Wonder who that is?

The next thing I want to introduce are sweet or desert shops.  These are everywhere as well but mainly in the eastern areas(I think they like sweeter things). You pay for your desert and just eat it in front of the shop/stall, a real street food.  Some sell just the basics but others go for a few different things like this one in the main area in Antep.

Don't they look great.
The next photo is of a little shop just a few streets away from my home and he still has pretty good stuff but less variety.

What is your favourite Turkish pastry or desert?

Monday 9 May 2011

Broad Beans - Bakla

One thing I like about living here is that the food you are buying is what is in season so therefore is healthy for you.  There are strong arguments out there saying that eating in season is what we are supposed to be doing and is the best for our bodies.  Keeping that in mind I really enjoy it when the new season starts and we can begin eating all our favorites we have missed out on during the rest of the year. For example when the peaches come out I try and buy as many as possible as the season is short lived and if I miss a week or two that only really gives me 3 weeks left to enjoy them.  So everything is planned. Canning, preserving, drying the harvest really has much more meaning when living this way.

During this in between time of Winter and Spring comes the much maligned Broad Bean.  Like I said in another post Lamb Shanks with Broad Beans. Broad beans and I never agreed.  My lovely father always grew herbs and veggies when he could when we were little.  When we lived in the ACT he grew broad beans.  They would usually be served along side a chop all grey and tasteless. It wasnt until I was off by myself that I found a french recipe calling for broad beans but with a twist- you had to peel off the outer grey drab shell, well I did only to discover a vibrant, delicous, bright green bean inside. Also the other problem I had was where to buy them as it was usually a home grown oddity grown by the Greek or Italian migrants. So it has taken me this long in my life to be somewhere where it is a staple in Spring to enjoy this delicous bean.

This recipe calls for not only the bean but also the pod. Now I know they are furry .  I never ate it until a friend of mine gave me a plate at her home and I discovered that I could eat it as all of the furryness had gone.  The trick is to cut the pods into the smallest size you can.  I would recommend shelling the beans and cutting the pods when your children are asleep and while you are watching your favourite soap.

1 kilo broad beans
2 onions
3 tbsp sweet pepper paste/tomato paste

Take all the beans out of the large pods, if they are small leave them in the pod. Cut the pods into fairly small pieces.  Dice the onions.  In a large saucepan pour in the oil and fry the onions until clear.  Add in the beans cook and stir for 5 minutes.  Add in the pepper paste and stir through.  Add in enough water to cover the beans.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on a med-high heat for 1 hour. Check and cook for a further 30 minutes if necessary. (I cook this in my pressure cooker for 1 hour)Broad bean shells are rather tough and I cook mine for a prolonged period and it is always lovely and soft.  

If you want to add meat to this you can just add in 150gr or 200gr diced meat and fry it after cooking the onions then proceed with the rest. 

This is a nice meal and I usually serve it with a rice pilav.
Broad Beans - Bakla on Foodista

Friday 6 May 2011

Hospital Food

My baby turned 2 last week and she is getting cuter and cuter.  A few days after taking her to the zoo for the big occasion we ended up having to take her to the emergency room at the local childrens hospital.   She was admitted and treated for Bronchitis.  Thank God after 2 days she was sent home and is on the mend.

She was kept in the emergency section as they wanted to keep a close eye on her.  The room had no airflow and the windows were kept closed.  But what surprised me the most was the food.  This is a Childrens Hospital so they should be catering for children.  Im not saying it should all be McDonalds or pizza but I did not see any admitted child eat any of the food. The ones that werent too sick to eat ate what was bought from home.  The food they served tasted nice but in my opion wasnt suitable for sick children.

Breakfast - 5 olives, bread roll, pkt marg, pkt jam, 1tbsp white cheese

Lunch - 4 tbsp tomato based stew(liquid), bread roll 5 tbsp bulgar pilav

Dinner - bread roll, 5 tbs yogurt, small piece chicken, 2tbs potato

I have been admitted a few times at various hospitals myself in Turkey and found that this is not an isolated event. The food whilst tasting ok dosnt cover adequate nutrition for anyone who is sick or pregnant or for new mothers. Plus the portions are very very small. They also dont give water, you have to bring your own or any other liquids you might require. Whilst the hospitals in my own country are lacking in areas usually the food is nutrionally balanced, well proportioned and the childrens hospitals or sections offer food to entice small appetites.  

Turkey has alot to offer to most people either tourists or for foreign people making it thier home and the government does appear to be making an effort to upgrade roads and schools. I am hoping they will focus some of thier efforts into thier hospitals as they really need a general overhaul.

Tell me what is the worst hospital meal you have been served?

Thursday 5 May 2011

Turkish Potato Salad

This is one of those dishes I make and every time after eating it I wonder why I dont make it more often. Its filling,light and can be a main event by itself or   put on the side. This is also often served at the womens high teas along with cakes and pastries.

I love potato salad.  Either dripping with mayonaise or lightly tossed in olive oil, with or without egg and onion it dosnt matter I love it! I first had this in Istanbul at my neighbours home on one of her ladies days. I hadnt seen anything like it before and after the first bite was taken.

6 large potatoes
1 to 2 cups finely chopped lettuce
3 carrots, grated
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 grated onion - you can omit
1/4 cup pickled cucumbers, diced
sumac,lemon juice or pomegrante syrup

Boil the potatoes until cooked but still firm.  You dont want these overcooked. Let them cool and peel the skins off. Grate potatoes and place into a large bowl. Add salt to taste and oil(about 3 tablespoons). Stir carefully as you dont want the potato to clump.  Add in all the chopped veggies and I usually add in sumac but you could use lemon juice or pomegrante syrup instead.  Stir through carefully.  Serve.

This looks really nice served in little unmoulded piles on a plate with chillies, radish wedges and boiled egg slices around it.

This is lovely with olive oil or a mixture of oil and mayonaise or oil and a couple tbsp yogurt.  I prefer plain olive oil.  

Turkish potato salad can also been seen as part of the meze dishes.
Turkish Potato Salad on Foodista

Monday 2 May 2011

Lahmacun, Turkish Pizza

Lahmacun is one of those great Turkish dishes. Cheap and easy to eat with an unbeatable price.  You go to restaurants and get 1 for about 1.50TL each and that comes with loads of various salads.  Depending on which area you are in depends on the salad served.  Gaziantep usually give pickled red cabbage, mint sprigs and the usual tomato, cucumber and onion salad.  Adana will give a plate of parsley, onion salad and sliced tomato and onions.  Istanbul usually has mixed tomato, cucumber and onion salad with lemon wedges.  Middle Turkey usually just has tomato and onion slices.  I like the food in Adana and Gaziantep because they give plates and plates of salads with every service. Tarsus also gives large plates of salads. Lemon wedges are served everywhere and some will also serve hot pickled chillies. 

One is usually enough for me with the babies having nearly one each and my husband eating 2.  So for about 10lira we can have a nice family meal out including a drink.  While we like going out as a family we also like to have quick and easy things at home.  

With the fırın culture as it is here this is very easy to do.  You start by going to the butchers, there is one at every corner here and next to the butchers you will find a bakery and also a veggie stall. They seem to all come together.  Why? well I wondered the same thing when we came here nearly 2 years ago. It is because people will buy the meat or chicken and vegetables for the various dishes then give it all to the bakery to be cooked.

The other night we decided to have lahmacun for a change and it was very easy.  I just set the table, put out the chillies and a bit of salad and waited. The butcher made the meat mixture and then we gave it to the bakery to be made.  For 8 lira we got 12 lahmacun.  You can make these at home and they are very easy.  The trick is baking these in a very hot oven and taking them out before the base goes brown as you want these to stay soft.

You can use a food processor

Lets hope he washed his hands!
Spreading the mixture on the dough.
Going into the oven

Ready to eat.
To make these at home you need

250gr minced meat
3 tomatoes
1 large handful parsley
2 sweet or hot peppers
garlic if desired

basic bread dough

Put the sauce ingredients and put them all in a food processor and pulse until it is all combined and paste like. Then take small apple sized pieces of dough and roll out fairly thin in an oval or circular shape. Spread some a couple of tbsp of sauce and spread out thinly over the surface.  Bake in a very hot oven until meat is cooked.

Serve with lemon wedges and salad.

Lahmacun, Turkish Pizza on Foodista