No, no, I won’t be appearing on that show! It’s just that while I’m in bed, dying of the lergy, I have some time to play catch up. So, here from the electronic store cupboard, is an article I wrote a few years ago about dining Turkish/Kurdish style.
If you feel like changing things up a bit and throwing a different kind of dinner party, here’s how
When you think of Turkish/Kurdish food, the first thing that springs to mind is ‘kebab’ and these are of course on menu’s everywhere with each region having its own version and style of cooking it. A typical Turkish restaurant here in resort will have on its menu a choice of soups, which the Turks tend to eat for breakfast, pides, the Turkish version of Pizza and kebabs, ranging from the Doner, in a wrap (durum) to the chicken on sticks, or the type cooked in an oven…….this is rarely the food served up at home.
If you would like to entertain your friends one evening with a traditional Turkish meal and set the ambience, I’ll talk you through it….
Lets start with the dinner table:
Traditıonally, you wont have one! In the village, we sit on the floor around a table cloth.
There may be several but they are all laid out at the same time
There will be forks and spoons if you need them but most of the food will be dipped and dunked by using your bread
This is called ‘ufka’ and is a thin flat bread made from flour, water, salt and oil and cooked on a cast iron pan (that looks like at upside down wok) over an open fire. (We do also have shop bought bread but this is mainly eaten at breakfast)
No individual plates (unless its soup). The food, depending on what it is, is served on plates in the middle of the table cloth, or in the pan it has been cooked in.
Although village houses have kitchens, most of the cooking is done outside, either in a purpose built small outhouse or in the fresh air. A concrete dip will have been poured and a soba pipe will have been cemented in (see photo). Simple and effective!
I’ts a free for all. Use your bread to scoop up whatever you fancy and yes everyone eats from the same pan…..double dipping? Will you ever live it down!!
Water and Ayran (a drink made from yoghurt)
Lets just start with a really simple menu:
Ayran (Thick plain yoghurt – Salt – Water) – Unless you are eating fish, as it’s believed eating the two together will poison you
Bostani (Tomatoes – Rocket – Cucumber – Onions – Salt – Chilli Powder – Pomegranate Syrup)
Chicken with garlic bulgur (if you can’t find bulgur wheat,substitute with couscous – a couple of bulbs of garlic – salt – olive oil)
Make the Bostani first as this needs to be served ice cold:
5 medium sized tomatoes: Skin and finely chop
1 cucumber: Peel, dice and add to the bowl (Turkish cucumbers are small like the size of a courgette so if using a UK one, use only a quarter)
2 Onions: Peel and finely dice
10 Rocket leaves: Rinse well and chop
Add all of the above into a large bowl then add a pinch of chilli powder a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of pomegranate syrup and a medium glass of water. The ingredients should all be fine so if it looks bulky, give it a quick whiz with a bullet blender but not too much or it will go pulpy. Add a couple of ice cubes and put in the fridge.
For the Bulgur or Couscous:
Use one cup of dry ingredients per person. Rinse thoroughly and leave to drain in a sieve.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous pat of butter in a cast iron pan. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic and gently fry for a few minutes. Next add the chicken pieces and fry until cooked (add more oil if needed). Remove the chicken and leave to one side then add the bulgur/couscous and add the remaining oil, stir for a minute of so. Disolve a chicken stock cube in water then add to the pan that and enough extra water to completely cover the ingredients before adding a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes.
After 15 mins, test the bulgur/couscous for softness. We should be nearly there. Now going to add another 3 cloves of chopped garlic and more water if necessary, place the chicken pieces on top and and cook for a further 5 – 10 minutes, until soft.
We make it here in a plastic jug that has a special lid but, you can just as easily make it in a bowl and use a bullet blender.
Put 6 tablespoons of yoghurt into a bowl/jug, add a small pinch of salt then add a large glass of iced water. Blend until you have the consitency of milk, adding more water slowly if needed.
Bostani is eaten like soup so this goes into individual bowls (in the village its normal to share these but of course, use bowls per person if you prefer).
Normal glasses for the ayran (although traditionally this would have been served in battered metal cups)
Arrange the bulgur onto a serving plate with the chicken piled on top (if you would prefer you can strip the chicken off the bones as this makes it go further)
İf you have managed to find some ufka, well done! İf not, try using a flat bread or pitta bread and subtitute this for a spoon or fork.
The Turks eat with gusto so tuck in and enjoy, or as we say here, Afiyet Olsun”