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Archive for the ‘Ethnic Food’ Category

Tomato Salad with Olive Oil

Tomato Salad with Olive Oil

Probably one of the most classical summer salad at Turkish homes is the Çoban Salad (Pronounced as Choban and means Shepherd’s Salad). There are lots of varieties in the US, under many different names: Mediterranean Salad, Greek Salad etc. The main idea is the same though, this is a refreshing summer salad that you can serve almost with anything.

The recipe is basically mixture of summer fruits. 🙂 Ok, I won’t go into the detail of a famous debate, whether tomatoes and cucumbers are fruit. Because they are technically fruits! There, end of the debate. 😉

If you don’t care about the taxonomy, you can enjoy this with grilled meats, as an appetizer or even as a main course. Feel free to play around with the recipe, and customize. Any kind of tomatoes as long as they are flavorful would work. Choose your chillies according to your spice endurance, they can be mild or hot, its up to you.  Another crucial ingredient is a good quality olive oil, do not substitute it with any other oil and try to use a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil if possible.

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Keşkül, a traditional Ottoman Desert

When I was a child, there were no malls or giant shopping centers to hang around as a kid or a teenager, so only places we were allowed to hang around with friends were Pastanes, literally “house of sweets”.  Apart from traditional desert sellers who used to sell baklava and related deserts, Pastanes were filled with layered cakes, custards, rice puddings, profiteroles and variety of ice creams. Different colors of creamy desserts  used to line up behind the glass door of the cooler. As a child I used to indulge myself in soup anglaise ( a cholocate custard with little cake pieces in it) and I never understood why some people would prefer to eat something without chocolate. 😛

Later, as I grew old I became an almond addict. I became obsessed  everything with almonds, from marzipan to roasted almonds, from amaretto to almond butter. And a friend of mine asked me if I like keşkül. I remember giving him a blank look: “I never really tried it, isn’t it just a plain custard with egg yolks?” My friend told me me that it is a pudding made with grounded almonds! Thus, my search for the perfect keşkül started. (more…)

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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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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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Ezo Gelin Soup

Ezo Gelin Soup (Bride Ezo’s Soup) is a traditional Turkish lentil soup. It’s a hearty soup that is perfect for cold winter days, made with red lentils, rice, bulgur and dried mint leaves. It contains only vegetables,legumes, and cereal so it is appropriate for vegans or vegetarians as well.

Ezo” is a female name and “gelin” means bride in Turkish. The origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who married and moved from her hometown where she became homesick for her village and had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased. It is for her, the story goes, that Ezo created this soup.

Even though the original recipe calls for white rice, I substituted it with barley to make the recipe whole-grain.

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