Turkish cuisine: cooking traditional dishes


Turkish cuisine is attractive because it intertwines Mediterranean, Arab, Indian, Caucasian and Middle Eastern culinary traditions. In the Ottoman Empire, food was a cult, and now they pay a lot of attention to it. In this amazing country, breakfast, lunch and dinner are an important part of life, so the Turks eat slowly, savoring every bite. A family lunch or dinner in honor of an event can last for hours. The table is full of delicious dishes, and the topics for unhurried conversations are inexhaustible.

But it is not necessary for us to prepare dozens of dishes to surprise our loved ones with Turkish delicacies. It is enough to make a kebab in the oven, bake eggplant with spices or cook baklava, and you can already expect applause for your culinary talent! What traditional Turkish dishes can we cook at home without spending the whole day in the kitchen?

Meze — a delicious start to lunch

Turkish cuisine was formed under the influence of Islamic traditions, so the cooking process is clearly regulated by certain rules. All food is divided into permitted (halal) and prohibited (haram), which includes, for example, pork.

The usual Turkish meal begins with cold and hot meze snacks, the task of which is to increase the appetite. Meze includes salads, pickles, pickled vegetables, eggplant snacks, vegetable caviar, olives, cheese, hummus, stuffed mushrooms, yogurt cream with cheese and herbs, falafel, fish, shrimp and bereki — small puff cakes that fit several fillings between thin layers of dough. Meze is served in restaurants, cafes, eateries and entertainment venues as a mandatory addition to alcohol.

Eggplant appetizer mutabal

This delicious snack is spread on unleavened tortillas and sprinkled with herbs. To prepare it, you will need 2 eggplants. Wash the vegetables well and blot them with a paper towel. Brush the eggplant with olive oil and pierce it in several places with a fork.

Preheat the oven to 180 °C and bake the eggplants for half an hour until soft. Cool, remove the skin, mix in a blender together with 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp sesame paste (tahini) and 1.5 tsp lemon juice. During the grinding process, gradually add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt to the blender. Add salt to the resulting puree and season it to taste with cold-pressed olive oil.

Serve the appetizer in a bowl, sprinkled with herbs and sprinkled with oil — it looks very beautiful and, as a rule, is eaten first!

Soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner

The first dishes in Turkish cuisine are so delicious that if you try at least one of them, you will immediately understand why Turkish gourmets are ready to enjoy soups from morning to evening.

In winter, they usually prepare hot lentil soup merjimek chorbasy, tomato soup, garlic soup from beef or sheep giblets ishkembe chorbasy. In summer, Turkey can not do without a refreshing chowder jadzhik from ayran, cucumbers and herbs, which, in fact, is served in winter with pilaf. Shehrieli yeshil merjimek chorbasy — green lentil soup with vermicelli — and yayla — rice-mint soup with a sour-spicy taste are very popular. Turks love unusual combinations and often fill soups with lemon juice, egg and mint.

Tarkhana is a very popular preparation for soup, which is made from sun-dried and powdered tomatoes, red or green pepper powder, onions and flour. In winter, it is enough to add this mixture to the water, season with tomato paste, and the soup is ready!

Turkish Lentil soup

Every Turkish housewife prepares lentil soup-puree in her own way, and all the options are good. We will share with you one of the recipes.

Put 1.5 cups of well-washed red lentils, 2 potatoes and carrots, diced, and a finely grated onion in a saucepan. Fill the ingredients with cold water and cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat — by this time the products should become soft.

And now add to the soup 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp butter, a pinch of cumin and salt, 2 pinches of thyme and dried mint. Beat the mixture well with a blender, put it back on the fire, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes on low heat.

Pour this delicious soup with lemon juice and season with fresh herbs. Lentil soup can be cooked in meat broth and add pre-fried meatballs to it at the end of cooking.

The land of meat abundance

The pride of Turkey is kebab-a fragrant fried meat, which is most often cooked on the grill. There are about 40 varieties of this most popular dish of Turkish cuisine. References to kebab can be found in manuscripts dated to the 2nd millennium BC. In those days, kebab was made from lamb, flavored with honey and olives.

Doner kebab is meat that is cooked on a spit, after which the pieces are cut with a knife and put in a flatbread with vegetables and sauce. We call this dish a shawarma.

Adana kebab is a spicy minced meat fried on a spit, lula kebab is a long cutlet on a skewer, kefte is Turkish meatballs made of spicy minced meat, which are served both fried and raw, and shish kebab is meat fried on a spit with tomatoes and sweet pepper. It is more like the usual shish kebab. There is also a variant of chop shish kebab — small pieces of meat on wooden skewers.

If you want to try urfa kebab in Turkey, be careful, because it is the sharpest minced meat fried on a skewer, and many Europeans are unaccustomed to a large amount of pepper. But the kebab of kushbashi has a rather mild taste, since the meat is fried with pieces of fat.

Very unusual is the test kebab-meat with vegetables in a sealed clay pot, which is broken with a heavy and sharp knife. Iskender kebab is thinly sliced fried meat on a flatbread with tomato sauce. If the meat is served with vegetables and yogurt sauce, the dish can be called “ali nizik kebab”.

Shish kebab with meat and eggplant is called “patlyjan kebab” , and lamb cutlets with fat are known as”sheftali kebab”.

In addition to kebabs, pilaf from rice or wheat groats, dolma with meat filling and manta with spicy yogurt sauce are perfectly prepared in Turkey.

Iskender-beef kebab

If you do not have a barbecue, kebab can be cooked in a regular frying pan according to the type of Uzbek kazan kebab. Take 300 g of slightly frozen beef and cut it into thin slices (you will not get such a thin slice from soft meat). Finely chop the onion. Lightly fry the meat so that it changes its color. Do not wait for a golden crust, but simply add salt, pepper with hot red pepper, add the onion and fry until it becomes soft.

Prepare the sauce from 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 30 g of butter and 1.5 cups of water. Cook it for 5 minutes, then add salt, pepper and slightly sweeten — to your taste.

Put the meat and onion on a dish and pour the sauce over it. Pour a little yogurt next to it, and when you taste it, scoop up the meat at the same time with tomato sauce and yogurt — it’s unusually delicious.

Bread on every table

No lunch in Turkey is complete without freshly baked bread and tortillas. Very popular is the puff pastry bereko, from which small puff pies are baked. It is no accident that this country was once the main supplier of bread to other countries. It is unthinkable for a Turk to offer yesterday’s bread to a guest — this is considered an insult, so the dough is put every day.

Turkish housewives often serve pita-thick cakes made of soft yeast dough, in which vegetables, meat and cheese are sometimes wrapped. Ekmek bread, which is more familiar to us, is prepared with sourdough or yeast, from wheat or rye flour, with bran and various spicy additives.

Everywhere on the streets in Turkey, they sell sesame-dusted simita bagels, soft barley buns stuffed with olives, bagels stuffed with cheese and herbs, and Turkish pizza lahmajun. Pide — a flat cake in the form of a boat with a filling of meat, mushrooms and vegetables looks impressive.

Turkish gozleme tortillas with filling, which are baked on hot coals, are very popular. They are so delicious that there is sometimes a queue of those who want to try this dish. While the street chef is frying gozleme right in front of your eyes, the whole queue is waiting patiently. These people can be understood. Everyone wants to taste the soft and melting dough in their mouth, to taste the filling — it can be cottage cheese, cheese, spinach, minced meat, potatoes or vegetables.

Turkish morning tortillas write

You can start your acquaintance with Turkish bakery products with pishi tortillas, which are usually served for breakfast. This is one of the simplest recipes of Turkish cuisine, because you do not need to make a filling and work with the dough for a long time.

To prepare the pishi, mix 100 ml of slightly warmed milk and 150 ml of warm water. Add 1 tsp of salt and sugar and dissolve 15 g of live yeast or 1 tbsp of dry yeast in the liquid.

Knead the dough, for this you will need about 3 cups of flour. According to the degree of kneading — everything is individual, but the softness of the dough should resemble the earlobe. Cover it with a towel and leave it for 40 minutes-let it fit.

Lubricate your hands with vegetable oil before you start pinching off pieces of dough. From these pieces, roll balls and form cakes with a thickness of no more than 5 mm. Fry them on both sides in oil until golden brown.

It is better to eat fragrant and soft tortillas on the day of cooking, as it should be according to Turkish traditions!

Turkey without fish is not Turkey

Turkey is surrounded by seas, and sea delicacies are very respected here. The most favorite dish of the Turks is fish fried on coals in the fresh air, especially stingray, dorada, barabulka, swordfish, flounder, sea carp and perch, mullet and hamsa. Turkish chefs can cook several dozen dishes only from hamsa-one is more magnificent than the other. Hamsa with arugula and lemon, cod kebab are especially delicious, fried octopus and Turkish fast food balik ekmek — fish in a bun are appreciated. This dish is served in all restaurants and cafes.

Local chefs perfectly prepare mussels, oysters, squid, cuttlefish and shrimp. Often, fish and seafood are added to pilaf and filling for dolma. At local bazaars, you can also meet exotic things, such as flying fish.

Vegetables in Turkey, or How the Imam fainted

I am glad that the Turks do not consider vegetables a secondary dish. They love vegetable snacks and salads, which are always served with meat and fish. One of the traditional salads, kysyr, is made from bulgur with spices, sometimes with vegetables and lemon juice. Choban appetizer is very good for meat — extremely simple, but delicious. The salad is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, olives, herbs, and is seasoned with pomegranate juice and olive oil.

Turks often cook chickpeas with vegetables, zucchini and zucchini in different variations, stuffed onions and cabbage, artichokes, tomatoes and carrot balls with dried apricots, pine nuts and spices.

“Zeytinyaly” is the beautiful name of string beans stewed with tomatoes and onions, and under the mysterious name “imam bayaldy” there is a Turkish recipe for cooking stuffed eggplants. In translation, “imam bayaldy” sounds like “Imam fainted”. If we consider that Turkish chefs masterfully cook eggplants, the Imam can be quite understandable!

Turkish snack kysyr instead of dinner

This dish is so satisfying and nutritious that it will completely replace a full dinner. And it is prepared simply. Pour half a cup of boiling water over 2 cups of small bulgur and, when it cools down, remember it well for 5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Then add 3 tbsp. l. tomato paste and remember again. You need to knead with your hands, as if you are kneading dough. Add finely chopped tomatoes, boiled or canned chickpeas and parsley to the bulgur, add salt and mix everything well. Season the salad with 3 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp pomegranate sauce Nar ekşisi, which can be replaced with pomegranate or lemon juice.

Sweet Turkey

Turkish sweets do not need advertising — they are known all over the world and are impeccable in terms of taste and aesthetics. What is one baklava worth! Who would have thought that the thinnest layers of puff pastry soaked in syrup with nut filling could be prepared so divinely delicious? There are many recipes for baklava-with raisins, honey, sour cream and yeast dough, with saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla.

Everyone knows Turkish delight, which is made from sugar, flour, starch and nuts, but few people have heard about syutlach — Turkish rice porridge. And you should also try pishmania-thin threads of fried sugar and flour with the addition of nuts and sesame. It’s a cross between cotton candy and halva.

It is worth trying Turkish halva made of sesame paste with pistachios or cocoa, fried tubes of tulumba dough, poured with sugar syrup, and semolina pie revani. The jezerye dessert is extremely tasty — when it is prepared, carrot or fruit juice is boiled, pistachios are added and brought to a jelly-like state.

Very tasty pumpkin — kabak tatlysa cooked with sugar, which is served with thick cream. And if you try kunefe, a crispy dough with melted cheese inside, and even with a sweet sauce, you will understand that you have never eaten anything tastier…

Milk-rice pudding syutlach

This dessert is prepared in two versions — cold and hot, when the pudding is baked in the oven until a golden crust appears.

It is not difficult to prepare it. First, cook 1.5 cups of rice in a liter of water until it is all evaporated. Pour a liter of fat milk into a saucepan with rice and wait for it to boil.

While the milk comes to a boil, dilute 2 tablespoons of rice flour in a glass of water, add a ladle of hot milk there. Stir the flour mixture well, pour it into a saucepan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour 2.5 cups of sugar into the porridge, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cool and bring to a boil again. Pour the dessert into the molds and put it in the refrigerator until it hardens. Before serving, sprinkle this amazing delicacy with cinnamon.

The best Turkish drinks

Many Turkish drinks have no analogues in our cuisine. For example, a real Turkish yogurt ayran is not at all like the carbonated kefir that can be found on the shelves of Russian supermarkets. Turkish coffee is also incomparable-sweet, strong, which is served in tiny cups.

It is impossible to describe the taste of the drink salep — it is made from milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and orchid roots. Turks prefer to drink hot salep in the cold season. You will also be impressed by the spicy-sour drink shalgam, which is prepared from turnips.

But Turkish tea does not differ in any special features, despite the fact that the tea culture in Turkey is at a high level. The taste of Turkish tea is similar to Georgian. It is traditionally brewed in a double teapot chaidanlak-there is a water container at the bottom, a teapot at the top. Water before brewing is necessarily infused all day, and tea is served very hot and always with sugar, without honey and milk.

Raki vodka with a strength of 40-70 degrees and the conditionally alcoholic drink boza, which is the result of fermentation of cereals with added sugar, are popular among strong drinks.

Turkish cuisine will make you take a fresh look at the culinary culture. You will learn a lot of interesting things, make your own gastronomic discoveries and learn how to cook something new. In the meantime, look at the photos of Turkish cuisine and be inspired by new ideas!

Leave a Reply