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

Monday, February 26, 2007

Shrimp Gratin

(Karides Guvecte)

Shrimp Gratin
175 g shrimp, cooked, de-veined and peeled
1 large tomato, peeled, cut in small cubes
1/2 cubanelle pepper, cut in small pieces
2 fresh green onions, chopped, white parts only
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp cream
1 tsp butter

1 tsp butter
2 tbsp flour
100 ml milk, warm
1/4 cup Kashar or Mozzarella cheese, grated

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Divide into 2 individual ovenproof bowls. Put aside.

To make the topping melt the butter in a small pot. 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. Toss the grated cheese in it. Cover the shrimp with this topping in the bowls.

Place the bowls on the oven tray. Preheat to 400 F (200 C). Cook until the tops take a golden colour. Serve Shrimp Gratin as an entree with a spoon because all the juice will come out - it is very delicious:)

* If you use cold milk, the sauce may curdle.

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Halibut Steak with Tomato Sauce, Cigarette Borek and Apricot Dessert.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Turkish Rice Pilaf

(Pirinc Pilavi)

Turkish Rice Pilaf
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 cup hot water or chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
Pinch pepper

Wash the rice several times with warm water and drain. Then cover the rice with hot water and leave for about 15 minutes, then drain. Melt the butter in a cooking pot. Saute the rice with butter for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Pour 1 cup of hot water or chicken stock in it. Add salt and pepper. Cover, turn the heat to low and cook until the rice absorbs all the water.

Take the cooking pot away from the heat. Open the lid, place a clean kitchen towel across the top of the pot on the rim and cover. Let the Pilaf stand for about 5 minutes. We call this brewing time. Then serve.

* Don't stir Pilaf while it's cooking.
* Don't use a spoon to fluff Pilaf. Use a wooden or regular fork for it.

Makes 2 servings.

You can serve Turkish Rice Pilaf with any kind of meal. My favorite is having this delicious pilaf with plain yogurt and some chopped fresh green onions (only white parts) all over.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Turkish Shortbread

(Un Kurabiyesi)

Turkish Shortbread
250 ml unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or powder
2 cups flour, all purpose
1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Cream the powdered sugar and vanilla with butter, then slowly add the flour and baking powder. Make sure everything's well mixed. Make chestnut sized balls with your hands. Put parchment paper on an oven tray and arrange them on it.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C)and bake for about 25 minutes. Immediately sprinkle some powdered sugar on top using a small strainer after you take them out of the oven.

Makes 18-20 Turkish Shortbread.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Bulgur Pilaf with Spinach

(Ispanakli Bulgur Pilavi)

Bulgur Pilaf with Spinach
1 cup Turkish bulgur, large grain, washed and drained
1 medium size onion, cut in small pieces
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red pepper paste
1 3/4 cup hot water
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp cumin
Half bunch of spinach, roots cut off*, washed, drained

Saute the onion with olive oil for a few minutes. Add all the ingredients except the spinach and stir. Cover and cook at low heat. When you start seeing holes on the surface of the bulgur add the spinach and stir slowly. Cover and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Serve warm or cold with Yogurt on the side. It is a great dish, especially for lunch:)

* Don't throw away the roots of the spinach, instead make Spinach Root Salad.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Tomato Soup with Cream and Mastic Pudding.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Spinach Root Salad

(Ispanak Koku Salatasi)

Spinach Root Salad
1 bunch spinach

1 garlic clove, mashed with salt
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar (I prefer apple vinegar) or 1/2 lemon juice
1 pinch red pepper

Cut the roots off about ~3 inches and soak into salted water to get rid of all the dirt between the roots. Continue to wash until you see no more sand at the bottom of the bowl.

Bring to boil some salted water in the pot, then throw the roots in it. Boil just 5 minutes and drain very well. Place on a serving platter.

Whisk the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, red pepper, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour all over the roots and serve.

* You can use the spinach to make Spinach Cake or Bulgur Pilaf with Spinach:)


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mastic Pudding

(Sakizli Muhallebi)

Mastic Pudding
4 + 1 cup 3.25% milk
1/2 cup cream, 35% (heavy cream)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp mastic, roll glass on the mastic to make it powdery (or use mortar)
3 tbsp rice flour
4 tbsp corn starch

Place 4 cups of milk, cream and sugar in a medium sized cooking pot. Melt the sugar over medium heat. Dissolve the corn starch and rice flour in 1 cup of milk and add into the pot. Then add the powdered mastic in it. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes to get it thick. Immediately pour into individual bowls. Let it cool down and sprinkle some pistachio on top. Keep it in the fridge before serving.

Ottoman Kitchen.

Makes 6 servings.

What is Mastic?
Wikipedia entry

Mastic gum or resin with the exquisite aroma is exuded from the bark of the mastic tree. Mastic is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing to 3–4 m tall, it is native throughout the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea region.

A hard, brittle, transparent resin, also known as mastic, is obtained from the tree. The resin is collected by bleeding from small cuts made in the bark. When chewed, the resin becomes bright white and opaque.

*Ottoman Kitchen

Mastic resin is a relatively expensive kind of spice, used in liquors (mastica alcoholic drink) and chewing gum pastilles. It is also a key ingredient in Turkish ice cream, and Turkish puddings granting that confection its unusual texture and bright whiteness. It was the Sultan's privilege to chew mastic, and it was considered to have healing properties. Mastic is also used for pastry making, drinks, baked goods, chewing gum, cosmetics such as toothpaste, and lotions for the hair and skin and perfumes. It is also used in preparation of Turkish Delight.

Mastic has also been found to have anti-microbial properties and virtues. It was used in the past to treat illnesses such as cancerous formations in the stomach, ulcer, abdominal pain and heartburn.


Sunday, February 11, 2007


(pronounced 'Chathal')

200 gr (about 1 stick + 5 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup yogurt
3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mahlep*, optional

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp Nigella seeds

Makes approximately 12 Catal.

In a large plastic bowl mix the butter, sugar, yogurt and sunflower oil with your hands. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and mahlep slowly and knead. Divide the dough in about 12 pieces and give each piece a long, rope-y shape with your hands. Place on the counter. For each piece, squeeze the two ends together and give it a canoe shape as seen in the picture.

Put parchment paper on the oven tray. Arrange the Catal on it. First egg-wash tops, then sprinkle some Nigella seeds all over.

Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake for about 30 minutes until they are golden in colour.

Catal are great for breakfast or as a snack with afternoon tea.

Bake in two batches with two oven trays.

* Mahlep is obtained from the fruits of the Idris Tree. It is used in a variety of dishes including Kandil Simidi. It also keeps the food fresh and makes it brittle.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Turkish Tea

(Türk Çayı)

Turkish Tea
4 tsp Turkish tea leaves + 2 tbsp bottled water
3 cups bottled cold water

Brewing Tea Turkish-style

To make Turkish tea you should use Caydanlik (picture) which is a small tea pot-brewer (demlik) on top of a kettle.

Pour 3 cups of water into the larger kettle. Put the Turkish tea leaves and 2 tbsp of water into the teapot and place it on the kettle. Bring the water in the kettle to boil over medium heat. Then turn the heat off. Wait for the water to settle*, then pour half of the boiling water from the kettle over the leaves into the brewer. Let it brew for about 5 minutes**. Then pour the brewed tea into tea glasses using a small tea strainer. Fill in half of the tea glasses with the brewed tea and the rest with the hot water.

Serve Turkish tea with sugar cubes. I like to have my Turkish tea without sugar with just a few drops of lemon juice.

* If you pour boiled water immediately over tea leaves, the tea will lose its vitamins.
** If you extend brewing time, the taste will get bitter. Also freshly brewed Turkish tea should be consumed within half an hour of brewing time.

This recipe produces 4 servings in Turkish tea glasses.

About Turkish Tea

In Turkey, tea growers don't use pesticide and Turkish tea doesn't contain much caffeine. For these reasons, Turkish tea is more natural and healthy. The tea is produced in Northeastern (Dogu Karadeniz) Turkey, which is the 5th largest producer in the world. You can find Turkish Tea at local Turkish Grocery stores or online at Tulumba and Taste of Turkey.

Benefits of Turkish Tea

- C and E vitamins in tea boosts the immune system and wards against leukemia.
- Caffeine in tea stimulates the nervous system, increases concentration, makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.
- Lowers cholesterol levels.
- Fluoride in the tea helps prevent tooth decay.
- Cleans the liver, lowers blood pressure, stabilizes the kidneys and it's also good for atherosclerosis.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Cauliflower Moussaka

(Karnabahar Musakka)

Cauliflower Moussaka
1 small head of Cauliflower, stems leaves peeled off, florets separated
4 cups water with salt

150 g medium ground beef
1 medium-size carrot, peeled, cut in cubes or sliced
1 onion, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cubanelle pepper, cut in medium size chunks
1/2 red pepper, cut in medium size chunks
2-3 green onions, chopped
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 or 1 1/2 cups warm water mixed with 3 tbsp canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper (red pepper flakes)
2 tbsp lemon juice

Boil the florets for about 2 minutes in the water with salt in a medium-size pot. Drain and place them in a shallow cooking pan.

In the meantime, cook the ground beef with salt and pepper at medium heat in a separate pan. Stir constantly. Add 1/2 cup of the warm water mixed with crushed tomatoes, carrots, onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Pour it all over the cauliflowers with the rest of the warm water. Arrange cubanelle peppers, red peppers and green onions on top. Pour olive oil all over. Cover the lid halfway and cook for 15-20 minutes at medium heat.

Add the lemon juice and sprinkle crushed pepper at the end. Serve with fresh Turkish Bread.

Makes 3-4 servings.