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Archive for May, 2010

Khaman Dhokla: prepare to be surprised

Dhokla…

It is probably the most surprising and addictive food I ever eaten. It looks like a sweet cake, yet it is savory.  Besides being savory it is light, fluffy, moist and spicy. After I tried it for the first time it has been one of my favorite foods, and I always asked for it in every Indian restaurant.

However, it is not found in most of the restaurants.  It is a chaat, meaning a snack,  a street food from India, an appetizer sold mostly by street vendors. So if you want to try it you should find an Indian restaurant that serves chaat specialties, like Vic’s Chaat Corner in Berkeley.

After I tasted it for the first time I asked for its recipe, but was very disappointed when I learned that it needs a special steamer to cook, and it is hard to find other ingredients as well.  So I gave up and accepted the fact that it is a food I can get only on weekends, because that’s the only time they sell it at Vic’s. 😦

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Artichoke hearts filled w/ fava puree

Artichokes always remind me of spring.  In my hometown, Izmir they come out in the middle of spring and disappear in few weeks.  So the fresh artichoke is a delicacy that can be enjoyed for a short period of time. They are cooked in many different ways, and this is the most Aegean way I think.  🙂

Cutting up an artichoke is a pain. The edible heart of the artichoke hides under layer after layer of leaves and inedible purple ‘choke’. It is very oxidative, and turns to brown immediately and dyes the hands in a terrible way. Since the preparation is such a pain, it is a common sight in Turkey to see a people selling prepared artichokes swimming in the bucket of lemon juice on the streets.

For this dish you can either prepare the artichokes yourself or you can buy canned artichoke hearts. If you decide to do it the hard way, make sure you wear gloves and put the artichokes in lemon juice-water mixture after you cut them up until you are ready to use them.

The recipe is for four large artichokes, but it is possible to use smaller artichokes and serve them as a party dish. 😉 (more…)

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Fava: Broad Bean puree w/ olive oil.

Fava is a dish made from dried broad beans (fava beans). It is common in Mediterranean, especially in Turkey and Greece.  The buttery texture of the fava beans and their slightly bitter and nutty flavor makes this dish a special one.

Even though this dish is called fava, the word ‘fava’ does not mean ‘fava beans’ in Turkish.  Weird, I know! 😀

The Turkish word for fava beans is ‘bakla’ and all other dishes made with fava beans are called as ‘bakla’ dishes except this one.  Fava is the Italian word for broad beans, and it is possible that this dish was borrowed from Italian Levantines living in Aegean coasts.

Most of Turkish mothers do not let their young sons eat this dish, because of G6DP deficiency, which is also known as “favism” . It is very common in Turkey and eating fava beans causes hematuria in the affected individuals. So, you might want to avoid this dish if you have the G6DP deficiency. 🙂

Dried fava beans smell very weird and almost unpleasant while cooking.  Once the cooking process is done, the smell goes away, but make sure that you cook them in a well aired kitchen. (more…)

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Kısır: Turkish Bulgur Salad

Kisir or Kısır ( as spelled in its original form) is a very popular Turkish bulgur salad. It is a classic for the afternoon tea parties of the women, and generally accompanied by some borek ( cheese pastries) and tea. It resembles Tabouleh a bit, but it is not the same.

It is a very healthy  dish, contains bulgur (par-boiled whole wheat), lots of vegetables and fresh herbs, lemon juice and some olive oil.

Every family has a different kisir recipe, and they all taste different.  I like it when it is fluffy and spicy so feel free to adjust it to your own taste and add or subtract ingredients. 🙂

Most grocery stores carry bulgur for Tabouleh, but that is generally not the type you want for Kisir.  Kisir’s bulgur should be finely grounded, this way it will be softer and fluffy once soaked. If you can find a Middle Eastern or an Indian grocery store around look for No.1 or No.2 bulgur to get a better taste of this delicious salad.  If you cannot find those, you can go with the regular kind, but beware that larger grained bulgur needs more water and heat to cook than this recipe calls for. So experiment according to your taste.

Second interesting kick in this dish is Sumac.  Sumac is actually a kind of berry, and the ground form is used in Middle Eastern dishes to give a fruity sour flavor to the foods.  It is not a must, but I urge you to try it, because it is delicious. (more…)

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