My mother is a great cook who still uses techniques from the old days. In summertime you can find her in the garden where she will be cleaning kilo’s and kilo’s of red peppers or herbs like mint so they can be dried in the sun and used again in wintertime. She makes the best marmalade’s out of plumes, cherries and peaches.You can read tests in some of Trip reports which has written some birdwatchers. And when she has time she will make a traditional çig köfte for you. A dish made of raw meat, tomatoes and bulgur that needs about two hours of kneading by hand. An easier version to make, is the vegetarian version that is made with bulgur and red lentils called mercimek köfte. Usually mercimek köfte is made as a so-called ‘meze’ - a Turkish starter. But you can eat it as a main course as well. This recipe is for four persons for a main course.
125 gram of the finest bulgur (special bulgur for köfte)
500 ml water
185 gram red lentils
1 big onion peeled and frittered
2 very finely sliced pieces of garlic
1 spoon (soup spoon) of tomato paste
2 - 3 teaspoons of hot Turkish pepper paste (biber salçasÄ±)
1,5 - 2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1,5 - 2 teaspoons of powdered paprika
1 spoon of fresh lemon juice
little bit of chily powder
chopped flat leaf parsley
cos lettuce or iceberg lettuce
Turkish flat bread - you can use wraps if you cannot find the Turkish version
Boil the lentils in the 500 ml water at low heat for 20 minutes max. Check once in a while if there is still water in the pot. If not add a little bit to it. Meanwhile clean the bulgur under cold streaming water and let it drip. When the lentils are cooked and soft add the bulgur and mix. Put a lit on the pot at let it rest for 15 minutes or so. It should become very thick. If the mixture isn’t mixable anymore, just add some water.
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan (low heat). Fry the onion and garlic in 7 minutes until they are gold and soft. Add the tomato paste, pepper paste, cumin powder and powdered paprika. Fry for another 2-3 minutes. Mix everything very well. You could add some sea salt too at this point. Add the whole mixture to the lentil and bulgur mixture. Stir, stir and stir and let it cool down for a while. If the mixture is too thick add water and for some more gloss some olive oil. When cooled down add the lemon juice, flat leaf parsley and if necessary some chily powder and even black pepper.
Take spoons of the mixture and knead them into little balls (best with done with wet hands) and put a little dent in them. Serve the balls on a tray. Put the ball on a leaf of cos lettuce and sprinkle it with some more lemon and pomegranate syrop. Put the cos lettuce on a piece of flat bread and wrap it up and … have a good dinner. Afiyet olsun. Smakelijk eten. Bon appétit. Buon appetito. Mahlzeit.
Another nice dish that comes from my hometown Gaziantep is Alenazik: yoghurt with minced meat and eggplant.
300 gram very fine minced lams (or beef) meat
half a green pepper/paprika - slice it in very small pieces
yedi türlü herbs (you can get it in a Turkish or probably Arabic shop easily and can be used for a lot of dishes)
red pepper/paprika powder (sweet)
salt and black pepper
4 parts of garlic
250-300 gram Süzme yoghurt (buy it in a Turkish shop or replace it by Greek yoghurt)
Grill the eggplants in an oven until soft (200 C degrees). Test the softness by trying to put a knife in it. It has to drop down in the eggplant. Be careful, they might explode. To prevent this from happening pinch little holes in the eggplant with a fork before grilling. Might help. In the meantime bake the minced meat and green pepper with salt and pepper, the yedi türlü herbs and a tea spoon of red sweet pepper/paprika powder.
Smoothen the yoghurt with a whisk and add the squeezed garlic. Get the skin of the eggplants, chop them as fine as you can (like a sauce) and add to the yoghurt. Mix it well and put the mixture in a flat bowl. Add the meat mix in a nice pattern over the yoghurt and sprinkle some dried mint over it. I guess fresh mint leaves would be nice too. If wanted and liked you can also sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the whole.
If you are looking for more Turkish recipes in your own mother tongue then check these out: