Monday, April 29, 2013

The Secrets of First Class

1- Soaking eggplants after peeling in a bowl of water mixed with lots of lots salt prevents this delicious vegetable to not to absorb too much oil during frying.

2- Eggplants would decide how much oil they absorb, but the chef can decide how much of that oil they can keep: Lay down eggplants on a thick paper or clean fabric towel and change as long as you think the amount of grease you can take on eggplants.

3- Adding a few drops of lemon makes rice pilav brighter and whiter.

4- If you do not have time for making seperate kadayif pieces, just split the kadayif in two parts, lay down one part, sprinkle all the nuts and cover it with the second part and apply rest of the recipe. It will not look as impressive as twisted kadayif but have the same spectacular taste! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Kadayif is a very fine vermicelli like pastry used to make sweet pastry and desserts. It is a very popular sweet dish in all the Middle eastern countries as well as in Turkey. You can find fresh or frozen kadayif in Turkish food stores and continental supermarkets. Kadayif also comes in packets already oven cooked. In that case you just have to add the nuts and the syrup to make the dessert. The syrup should be cooled if the pastry hot from the oven. If you made the kadayif the day before then the syrup should be warm almost hot before pouring to soften the kadayif. Some people add spices in the syrup but in Turkish Cuisine we don't add anything other than just water and sugar and lemon juice for the syrup.

Serves 12
Preparation time 20 min
Cooking time 20 min


  •     750 gr uncooked kadayif
  •     1 cup walnut, chopped coarsely
  •     200 gr unsalted butter (melted)
  •     1/4 cup liquid oil (like canola)


  •     5 cups water
  •     4 cups sugar
  •     1  tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

- Bring the sugar and water to boil in a sauce pan, then turn the heat to low and simmer the syrup uncovered  for 10-15 minutes until the syrup is light yellow in colour. Then add the lemon juice and take the syrup of the heat and set aside to cool. Place nuts in a food processor and whiz them a few times to ground them roughly. ( or place them in a freezer bag and roll the nuts with a rolling pin until you achieve ground nuts ).
- Brush a deep baking tin with the mixture of butter and liquid oil.  Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Spread the kadayif on a flat surface and brush with oil mix. Then break 12 equal pieces of the kadayif ( 5 cm x 3 cm ).
- Then spoon 1-2 tsp of the nuts in the middle and roll the kadayif like a log and shape it with your hands. Making sure it is tucked under from the sides and the ends of the log are securely tighted. Place  the kadayif log in the baking tin.
- Repeat this process until you use all the kadayif. Then brush all the kadayif logs with oil mix and cook in preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes until golden and crispy. Oven setting is 180C, 160 C Fan setting and cooked in the middle shelf of the oven.
- Take the kadayif out and pour the syrup over it immediately. Make sure all the syrup covers all of the kadayif to the top. ( If you think you haven't got enough syrup, boil 1 cup of  sugar and 1 cup of water, then  pour over the kadayif )
- Let the kadayif soak up the syrup for 4-5 hours then transfer them on a plate( without syrup) and keep in the fridge.
- Sprinkle the kadayif with nuts just before serving.


Now a highly common and popular street food, garbanzo bean pilaf (nohutlu pilav), was a special dish served during the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror by Grand Vizier Mahmut Pasa to his guests. Mahmut Pasa's pilaf had both real, edible garbanzo beans and garbanzo beans made out of gold! Mahmut Pasa called the golden ones his "dis kirasi," which literary translates as "tooth money." But don't think it was a compensation for broken teeth! In the past it was a tradition of wealthy families to give a feast for the poor and the wealthy alike during the month of Ramadan. The family would give a small gift to everyone who attended the fast breaking dinner (iftar) for kind-of renting their teeth to their hosts for the night. Apparently Mahmut Pasa offered the gift in the food in stead of handing it out.

Nowadays in Turkey you can eat this rich and tasty pilaf, usually along with pieces of chicken, at small sloppy restaurants during the day and on the street late at night, post-bar hours, and with no "tooth money."

Serves 4   
Preperation time 10min
Cooking time 20 min


  •     1 cup rice
  •     1/2 cup garbanzo beans (soaked over night and boiled the next day until cooked or use can garbanzo beans)
  •     2-3 tbsp butter (traditionally sheep's tail fat is used for this recipe, but we settle down for butter now)
  •     2 cups of water
  •     salt and pepper (optional)

  • Heat butter in a non-stick pot.
  • Add rice and garbanzo beans. Stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add water, salt, and pepper.
  • Let it boil first and then turn it to low heat. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed. Do not stir the rice while cooking.
  • Turn it off and cover the top of the pot with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Place lid on tightly. Let sit for ~10 minutes.
  • Fluff and serve it as a main dish or as a side with meat.


This impressive dish is a legacy of the Ottoman Palace kitchens and yet another of the imperial demands for ingenuity concerning the much loved eggplant, aubergine, you will find this dish wherever you go in Turkey! Though traditionally made with ground lamb, you may prepare it with ground beef or have a vegetarian version too. Simply replace the meat with your favorite vegetable (mushrooms, chickpeas work very well), sprinkle some grated cheese over the top and bake it, it turns out to be a delicious alternative.

We use a lot of onion and garlic in Turkish cooking. Both have very valuable health benefits; onions carry healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon. In addition, they can reduce the risk of tumors developing in the colon. Another good reason to welcome them in our dishes!

You can cook this dish ahead of time and gently reheat in the oven. Karniyarik freezes very well, once cooked.

Serves 4
Preparation time – 45 minutes Cooking time – 55 minutes

  •     4 dark purple eggplants (aubergines; small to medium variety if possible), peeled in stripes lengthwise
  •     340 gr / 12 ounces ground (minced) lean lamb or beef
  •     1 medium onion, finely chopped
  •     4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  •     400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
  •     2 tablespoons tomato paste
  •     1/2 tablespoon pepper paste
  •     240 ml / 1 cup water
  •     1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian (flat) parsley, finely chopped
  •     1 tablespoon olive oil
  •     3 – 4 cups canola oil or ground nut oil for frying
  •     6 thin slices of tomato and green bell peppers, seeded – for decorative topping
  •     1 -2  teaspoon red pepper flakes
  •     Salt, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of cumin and a pinch of dried mint.

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F

1- In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side, leaving 12-13 mm- uncut at either end and the stalk intact.  Then put them in salty water for 10 minutes.
2- Dry them well. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the canola oil or gorundnut oil. Once they’re fried, first soak the excessive oil by resting them on a paper towel at least half an hour, and then place eggplants with the split sides facing up into an oven dish.
3- In a little of the olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Add the ground meat and salt, cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 tbsp pepper paste and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking for a further couple of minutes.
4- Remove from the heat. Season with freshly ground black pepper, cumin and mint mix well.
5- Spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a green bell pepper.
6- Mix rest of the tomato paste and pepper paste with 1 cup of hot water. Pour this mixture from the side of the dish. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for up to 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or  until green peppers are nicely baked and eggplants are tender.

Serve hot with pilav/rice and a dollop of plain yogurt on the side. Afiyet olsun!