Binnur's Turkish Cookbook - Delicious, healthy and easy-to-make Ottoman & Turkish recipes

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I will be visiting friends and family in Istanbul and will return on November 9. I'll answer comments and email when I'm back, but we'll continue to post recipes meanwhile:)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Raisin Compote

(Uzum Hosafi)

Raisin Compote
1/2 cup Sultana or Golden raisins, stems cut off
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
3 or 4 whole cloves

Soak the raisins in warm water for about an hour, then drain.

Bring the sugar and water to boil in a medium cooking pot. Turn the heat down to very medium-low and add the raisins and cloves in it. Cook for 10-12 minutes.

Pour into a bowl and let it cool. Then chill in the fridge. Serve in individual bowls with Pilaf or Borek on the side.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Chickpeas with Ground Beef, Pilaf with Orzo and Cantik.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Chicken with Potatoes

(Patatesli Tavuk)

Chicken with Potatoes
4 pieces of chicken, dark and white
5 medium white potatoes
2 tbsp crushed tomatoes, canned
1 onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cubanelle pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 fresh green onion, chopped
60 ml olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed pepper

For presentation:
2 Patty Shells (Tenderflake), frozen

Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with 2 cups of water. Cook for about 20 minutes at medium-low heat. Remove the foam from the surface with a spoon. Then add the remaining ingredients. Cook all together approximately for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. If necessary add a little more hot water.

Meanwhile bake the Patty Shells following the instructions on the box. Place them on a serving platter. Remove the tops with a fork and fill the shells with some potatoes and serve them together. You can serve this simple and delicious Turkish chicken recipe to your guests by adding something extra:)

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Green Lentil Soup, Carrot Salad and Chocolate Pudding.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Leek and Feta Cheese Borek

(Pirasa ve Beyaz Peynirli Borek)

Leek and Feta Cheese Borek
1/2 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
3/4 cup sunflower oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
3 sticks of leek with the roots cut, washed and finely sliced
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

8x8x2 (2L) Pyrex dish

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

Whisk the yogurt, eggs and sunflower oil in a deep plastic bowl. Toss in the leek and feta cheese. Add the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Knead using your hands. Place into an oven-proof dish. Bake until the top gets nice golden colour - it takes about 30-35 minutes. Cut in square pieces with a knife. Serve warm or at room temperature with Turkish tea or Ayran on the side for breakfast or as a snack.

Makes 8-10 servings.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lamb Soup

(Kuzu Corbasi)

Lamb Soup
150 gr lamb, cut in cubes
1 + 3 cups hot water
4-5 fresh green onions, chopped
6 tbsp rice, washed and drained
1 large tomato, grated
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
Pepper for taste
1 tbsp dry mint

4 tablespoonfuls yogurt
1 egg

Cook the lamb cubes with their juice without oil in a medium sized cooking pot. After all the water evaporates, add 1 cup of hot water and cook over medium-low heat until the lamb softens. Add 3 cups of hot water, rice, butter, fresh onion, grated tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover the lid half way and cook until the rice is done.

Add the mint, stir and turn the heat off. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Take one ladle from the soup and add into the sauce, whisk. Then pour this mixture into the soup and stir. Serve while still hot.

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Black-eyed Peas, Carrot Salad and Mosaic Cake.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Turkish Baklava


Baklava is of Turkish origin and is the world's favourite Turkish Dessert. It's extremely delicious. You can find the history of Baklava at Wikipedia.

1 1/4 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

454 gr (1 lb) Phyllo Pastry (~20-22 sheets)
1/2 cup (125 ml or 1 stick) + 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups pistachios, ground (use a mixer but do not grind finely), the measurement is after grinding
6 tbsp cream 35%

3L (13x9x2") Pyrex casserole dish

To prepare the Baklava syrup place the water and sugar in a medium sized pot. First bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Then simmer for 15 minutes and turn the heat off. Add lemon juice and place the syrup in another bowl so that it cools down quickly.

Place the block of Phyllo sheets on the counter. Cut the sheets in half (8x12 inches) (picture). Now there are two blocks of approximately 40 sheets. After cutting in half, the size of the sheets should the same as the size of the Pyrex dish. Keep the blocks separate as half the sheets will go below the Baklava filling, and the rest above.

Brush the inside of the pyrex dish with the butter. Then lay down 2 sheets. Spread more butter on top (picture), and then place two more sheets on top and butter again. Continue until you finish the first block of the phyllo sheets. Then brush on the cream evenly on top (picture).

Spread the pistachios on the cream evenly (picture). Then finish second block of the sheets the same way. Don't forget to brush the very top with butter.

Dip a big, sharp knife into hot water to cut the Baklava in rectangles. Cut 4 vertically and 6 horizontally to get 24 piece of Baklava. However, don't cut all the way down, only cut halfway until you reach the pistachio (picture). This will ensure only the top parts will rise when you bake it.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the pyrex dish on the middle rack. Bake for 25 minutes. At this point turn the heat down to 325 F while the dish is still in the oven. Bake for 30 more minutes and take the Baklava out. Leave it at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Then using the same knife, re-cut the Baklava all the way down. This part may be a little bit hard but is worth it:)

With a tablespoon pour the lukewarm syrup evenly along the cut lines. Make sure not to pour it all over, only between the lines, otherwise Baklava won't turn out well (picture).

Sprinkle some pistachios on top of each Baklava. Let it rest at least 4 hours before serving. The syrup should be completely absorbed. You don't need to refrigerate it. Cover Baklava loosely with aluminum foil.

Meal Ideas:
- Sweet Pea Soup, Lamb Tandir with Vegetables and Stuffed Peppers with Olive Oil.

History of Baklava; Its name comes from Old Turk language. It means wrapped.
Source: Wikipedia

The history of baklava, like that of many other foods, is not well documented. Though it has been claimed by many ethnic groups, the best evidence is that it is of Central Asian Turkic origin, but its current form was developed in the imperial kitchens (Ottoman Empire) of the Topkapı Palace (located in Istanbul).

Other claims about its origins include: that it is of Assyrian origin, dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and was mentioned in a Mesopotamian cookbook on walnut dishes; that al-Baghdadi describes it in his 13th-century cookbook; that it was a popular Byzantine dish; and so on. But Claudia Roden and Andrew Dalby find no evidence for it in Arab, Greek, or Byzantine sources before the Ottoman period.

Vryonis (1971) identified the ancient Greek gastris, kopte, kopton, or koptoplakous, mentioned in the Deipnosophistae, as baklava, and calls it a "Byzantine favorite". However, Perry (1994) shows that though gastris contained a filling of nuts and honey, it did not include any dough; instead, it involved a honey and ground sesame mixture.

Perry then assembles evidence to show that layered breads were created by Turks in Central Asia and argues that the "missing link" between the Central Asian folded or layered breads (which did not include nuts) and modern phyllo-based pastries like baklava is the Azerbaijani dish Bakı pakhlavası, which involves layers of dough and nuts, but not thin phyllo dough, which probably was developed in the kitchens of the Topkapı Palace. Indeed, the sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries* every 15th of Ramadan in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı.

* The Janissaries comprised infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's household troops and bodyguard. The force originated in the 14th century; it was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in The Auspicious Incident. The name janissary or janizary derives from the Ottoman Turkish:"yeniçeri" meaning "new soldier".


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lamb Tandir with Vegetables

(Sebzeli Kuzu Tandir)

Lamb Tandir with Vegetables
2 pieces of Lamb Shanks
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 medium carrots, peeled, washed, cut in chunks
3 medium white potatoes, peeled, washed, cut in chunks
1/2 cup pearl onions, peeled
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, sliced
1 cup small mushrooms, brushed
2 tablespoonful crushed tomatoes, canned
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Place the lamb shanks in a large cooking pot. Pour water in until they're all covered. Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Remove the foam from the surface. Then reduce heat and simmer. Add the salt and pepper. Occasionally turn the shanks over to cook both sides. When about half the water evaporates, add more hot water to cover the shanks again. Cooking time is about 4 hours.

When you enter to last 45 minutes, cover the shanks with hot water and add the carrots. Cover, increase the heat from simmer to over a little bit under the medium. After 10 minutes add the potatoes and onions, stir. After 10 more minutes add the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook with the lid covered until all the vegetables are fork tender.

If you like it juicier, you can add a little bit more hot water, but I didn't.

When you turn the heat off, sprinkle some oregano and chopped parsley on top, then cover with the lid. Set aside for about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Sweet Pea Soup, Stuffed Peppers with Olive Oil and Turkish Baklava.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sweet Pea Soup

(Bezelye Corbasi)

Sweet Pea Soup
1 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed with salt
1 tbsp butter
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp lemon juice
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
Salt (if the chicken stock has salt, don't use)

75 ml half half cream

Saute the onion with butter for about 7-8 minutes over low heat in a medium sized pot. Add the garlic and stir. Then add all the above ingredients except the cream. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low to slowly cook for about 30 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf. Use the blender to blend the soup until there are no lumps in it. Pour it back into the pot. Heat it up for about 5 minutes over very low heat. Then add cream and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Sprinkle some croutons on top and serve.

How to make croutons: cut bread in cubes. Place them on an oven tray and add some olive oil, salt and pepper on top, then toss. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F) and bake for about 10-15 minutes.

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Lamb Tandir, Pilaf with Almonds and Turkish Rice Pudding in the Oven.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Tenderloin in Parchment Paper

(Kagitta Bonfile)

Tenderloin in Parchment Paper

1 large piece beef tenderloin, ~250 g
1 + 1 tsp butter
1 tsp corn pepper, mashed a little bit
1 garlic clove, mashed with salt
1 small tomato, washed, sliced
1 pinch basil
2 mushrooms, brushed, sliced
1 slice gruyere cheese or Mozzarella (or Kashar cheese)
2-3 onion slices

Rub the tenderloin with salt, peppercorn and garlic. Wrap the tenderloin with a large piece of aluminum foil. Spread 1 tsp of butter in the center of the foil. Place the tenderloin on it. Arrange the tomato slices on top and sprinkle some basil. Place the mushroom slices and put 1 tsp butter on top. Fold the aluminum foil over the top and the sides to prevent the juice from leaking out.

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Cook for 45-50 minutes on the middle rack. Then remove and open up the aluminum foil. Arrange cheese and onion slices on top of the tenderloin. Set the oven to broil. Place the tray on the second rack from the top. Keep it for 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts with the aluminum paper still open on top.

Serve while still warm.

Meal Ideas:
- Pilaf with Orzo, Roasted Eggplant Salad with Walnuts and Noah's Pudding.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Walnuts

(Cevizli Patlican Salatasi)

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Walnuts
2 large eggplants
1/2 lemon juice
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/3 cup walnuts, crumbled

Before putting them in the oven, make holes on the eggplants with a fork so that they will soften and roast better. Then place them on an oven tray and roast for about 25 minutes on broil. Alternatively, you can barbecue them until softened. Then peel them, remove any hard seeds and place in a strainer to drain.

Place the roasted eggplants in an ovenproof dish. Cut into small pieces with a knife. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and toss. Sprinkle the walnuts all over.

Place the dish on the second rack from the top in the oven. Grill for about 4 minutes until walnuts become lightly roasted.

Serve immediately with any kind of barbecue or meat dishes.

Makes 4 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Adana Kebab, Side Salad for Kebabs and Sweet Butternut Squash.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Red Lentil and Mint Soup

(Ezo Gelin Corbasi)

Red Lentil and Mint Soup
1/2 cup red lentils, washed and drained
1/4 cup fine grain bulgur, washed and drained
1/4 cup rice, washed and drained
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup diced tomato, canned
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 or 5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp dry mint

Mint Butter Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dry mint

Saute the onion with olive oil for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and saute until the smell of the garlic comes out. Throw the diced tomatoes in and let them soften for about 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients. First cook at high heat to bring to boil, then turn the heat down to simmer. Cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Pour it into the blender and pulse 3-4 times. Pour it back into the pot. If it's too thick, add a little bit of more hot chicken stock or water.

Melt the butter in a small pan. When you see the bubbles, turn the heat off. Add the dry mint and stir. Pour it into the soup, stir and serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4-6 servings.

*Before serving, always taste first as you might need to add more salt:)

Meal Ideas:
- Stuffed Zucchini and Apricot Dessert.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Chicken with White Sauce

(Firinda Meyaneli Tavuk)

Chicken with White Sauce
1 whole chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 fresh green onions, chopped
2 zucchini, cut in medium sized chunks
6-7 mushroom, brushed, sliced
1 tsp salt

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 cup warm milk

1 cup Kashar cheese (or Mozzarella), shredded

11 x 7 x 1.5 in 2 L Pyrex dish

Boil the whole chicken with water in a large pot (always add one peeled whole onion in it, discard after boiling). Take the chicken out of the stock* and let it cool down. Then remove one piece of chicken breast**. Usually a whole chicken is too much for the sauce. Discard the skin and all the bones from the remaining chicken. Tear it apart in medium sized chunks with your fingers.

In a large skillet, cook the onion with olive oil on medium-low heat for a few minutes. Then add the garlic, salt and pepper. Saute until the smell of the garlic comes out.

Add the flour, stir and slowly pour the warm milk*** in it while stirring constantly. The milk and flour should blend very well. You can use an egg beater. Turn the heat off. Mix the chicken, zucchini, mushroom and green onions with the flour sauce and arrange them in the Pyrex dish. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) and bake for about 40-45 minutes until the colour of the top turns golden.

Makes 4 servings.

* Cook Chicken Soup with Rice with the chicken stock:)
** Also try cooking Okra with Chicken with the leftover chicken breast the next day:)
*** If you use cold milk, the sauce may curdle.

Meal Ideas:
- Red Lentil Soup, Muhammara and Dried Figs with Walnuts.