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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mushroom Soup

(Mantar Corbasi)

Mushroom Soup
200 gr brown mushrooms, brushed, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt, adjusted to your liking
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper
2 cups chicken broth, at room temperature
1 Bay leaf
1/4 cup cream, half & half

Saute the onion with butter for a few minutes in a medium sized pot. Take the pot from the heat, add flour, salt, pepper and crushed pepper. Stir using a wooden spoon until creamy without bumps. Slowly add the chicken broth while stirring. Throw in the mushrooms and the Bay leaf. Put back on the stove, stir constantly. When it starts bubbling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.

Add the cream and stir. Turn the heat off, take the Bay leaf out and serve while still hot.

2 servings.

Meal ideas:
- Lamb Kavurma, Pilaf with Almonds, Apple Compote, Black Olive Paste on Bread, Stuffed Peppers with Olive Oil and Tulumba Dessert.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Chicken Saute with Mushrooms

(Mantarli Tavuk Sote)

Chicken Saute with Mushrooms
1 chicken breast, cut in medium sized cubes
1/2 cubanelle pepper, cut in medium sized chunks
4 mushrooms, brushed, sliced
3 green onions, cut in medium sized chunks
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 large tomato, grated
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
1 tsp half & half cream
1 pinch oregano
1 pinch crushed red pepper

Cover the chicken pieces with water in a medium sized pot and cook over medium heat. When a little bit of water is left, add the above ingredients except the cream, oregano and crushed pepper. Cook for about 15-20 minutes over low heat.

Add the cream, oregano and crushed red pepper, stir and turn the heat off.

1-2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Sweet Pea Soup, Pilaf with Tomato, Fried Mixed Vegetables with Sauce, Borek and Dried Figs with Walnuts.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Izmir Kofte

(Aegean Region)

Izmir Kofte
Kofte Ingredients:
~300 g medium ground beef
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 medium size onion, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

For Frying:
1/2 cup liquid oil
4 tbsp flour

2 large tomato, peeled, seeds discarded, cut in cubes
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 or 1/3 cup water, depending on how juicy you want it, I used 1/2 cup of water

1 tsp oregano
1 cubanelle pepper, stems cut off, seeds discarded, cut in 4 pieces

Mix all the kofte ingredients using your hands in a large bowl. Divide it in 12 pieces and give each a long shape, as shown in the picture. Pour the liquid oil in a frying pan and heat it up. Place the flour on a plate and roll each Kofte in it. Fry the Kofte evenly for about 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, place them on a paper towel to soak up extra oil. Arrange in a casserole dish.

To prepare the sauce, place all the sauce ingredients in a small pot. Cook for about 3-4 minutes at medium heat. Pour the sauce all over the Koftes. Season with oregano and arrange cubanelle peppers on top.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C). Place the dish on the middle rack of the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes. My mum always served one of Izmir's best known Turkish recipes with home-made French Fries. I do the same and they go very well together:)

Turkish Style French Fries

Turkish Style French Fries
4 medium size white potatoes, peeled, sliced however you like
Liquid oil

Fill medium sized plastic bowl halfway with water and add 1 tbsp salt in it. Soak the potato slices in it for about 20 minutes. Heat up the liquid oil in a frying pan. Drain the potatoes, but don't rinse them and dry with a paper towel. When the oil heats up, fry the potatoes until golden brown. Afterwards, place on a paper towel to soak up any extra oil. Serve while still warm.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Green Lentil Soup, Feta Cheese Pie, Creamy Yogurt Dip, Pide and Almond Pudding.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Swiss Chard Log Borek

(Pazili Kol Boregi)

Swiss Chard Log Borek
10 sheets of Phyllo Pastry (half of the package)

1 bunch Swiss Chard, washed, drained, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped, lightly roasted
1/3 cup feta (white) cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg

Bring to boil the water with salt, soak in the Swiss chard and boil for about 2-3 minutes, then drain. Soak into the cold water and drain again. Squeeze it with your hands to get rid of excess water.

Soften the onion with olive oil for about a minute on a skillet, then add garlic. When the smell of garlic comes out, turn the heat off. Add the rest of the filling ingredients, toss. Put aside.

Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Take one sheet of Phyllo Pastry, lay it down on the counter with the long side in front of you. Brush with the sauce (picture). Put the 2nd layer on top, brush again. Continue until you finish all the Phyllo Pastry sheets. Place the filling along on the long side of the 10th sheet, making sure it's 3 inches away from both ends (picture). First fold the left and right ends from the outside to the inside. Then fold the top and bottom ends over the filling. Continue to fold until it's finished. Don't squeeze too much while you are folding like a log. Brush with the sauce all over the top.

Place the log on an oiled oven tray. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Bake the Borek until it's golden brown, for approximately 25 minutes. Leave for about 15 minutes before serving.

Slice them up before serving. You can serve Swiss Chard Log Borek as an appetizer or as a meal with Ayran.

Meal Ideas:
- Tomato Soup with Flat Green Beans, Lamb Tandir with Vegetables, Pilaf with Orzo, Shepherd's Salad and Revani.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Spinach Saute

(Ispanak Kavurma)

Spinach Saute
500 g spinach, roots cut off*, washed several times, drained
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp crushed tomatoes, canned
1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
4 tbsp beef broth or chicken broth or water

1/2 cup yogurt + 1 garlic clove, smashed with salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper

Boil the spinach for 5 minutes, drain. Squeeze it with your hands to get rid of excess water. Then chop it on a cutting board.

Saute the onion in a medium-size pot with olive oil and salt until the colour of the onions turn to light brown. Add the spinach, crushed tomatoes, nutmeg, chicken broth and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes at medium-low heat. Turn the heat off.

Let it cool down for a few minutes. Arrange on a serving plate. Place the yogurt with garlic on top. Heat up the olive oil in a small pan, add in the red pepper and then turn the heat off. Don't burn the pepper! Pour all over the yogurt sauce. Serve with any kind of beef or chicken dish.

* You can make Spinach Root Salad with the roots.

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Yogurt (Plateau) Soup, Tenderloin in Parchment Paper, Macaroni and Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Rolls and Semolina Dessert.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Steak with Vegetables in Tomato Sauce

(Salcali Biftek)

Steak with Vegetables in Tomato Sauce
1 piece of beef steak
1 tbsp butter
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup hot water mixed with 2-3 tbsp crushed tomatoes, canned
1 small onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1-2 mushrooms, brushed, sliced
4-5 slices of green pepper
4-5 slices of red pepper
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 green onion, only the white parts, chopped
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp oregano

Fry the beef steak with butter on both sides for a few minutes at medium heat. Then turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the 1/2 cup hot water + crushed tomatoes mixture, onion and garlic, and cook until the water evaporates.

Place the rest of the ingredients around the steak with 3/4 cup of hot water. Cover and cook for about 5-6 minutes at low heat until some of the water evaporates.

Place the steak on a serving dish and arrange the cooked vegetables with juice over the top. Sprinkle chopped fresh onions, crushed pepper and oregano on top. Serve with any kind of pilaf and salad by the side.

Makes 1 serving.

Meal Ideas:
-Red Lentil Soup, Pilaf with Almonds, Shepherd's Salad, Hummus, Pide and Almond Pudding.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cherry-Milk Pudding

(Visneli Muhallebi)

Cherry-Milk Pudding
Cherry Pudding:
400 gr red sour pitted cherries in light syrup (1 cup juice + cherries)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp corn starch

Place the sugar, cinnamon and corn starch in a small pot. Slowly add 1 cup of cherry compote juice and stir constantly to avoid lumps over medium heat. Then add in the cherries. When it gets thicker, cook for 1 more minute. Pour equally into 4 individual bowls. Let it cool down. Meanwhile start cooking the milk pudding.

Milk Pudding:
1 cup 3.25% milk
1/2 cup cream, I used half & half
2 tbsp rice flour
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place the sugar, rice flour and vanilla extract into a small pot. Slowly add in milk and cream, stir constantly to avoid lumps over medium heat. When it gets thicker, cook for 1 more minute. Pour equally over the cherry pudding. Let it cool down.

Cherry-Milk Pudding
Sprinkle some Cinnamon and place a cherry cut in half on top. Keep it in the fridge. Cherry-Milk Pudding is a sweet & sour, tasty comfort food :)

I was cooking Cherry Topping for my husband who loves to have his ice cream with fruit toppings. Having compote on the side with meals is a Turkish tradition, that's why I always carry a few jars of Cherry Compote (Cherries in Syrup) in my pantry. One day I wanted to make a dessert with it and Muhallebi (Milk Pudding) is also very much enjoyed in Turkish cuisine, so here is the result I came up with. We all loved it. I am sure you will like it too:)

Makes 4 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Red Lentil and Mint Soup, Lamb and Veggie Casserole, Turkish Rice Pilaf, Carrot Salad and Potato Pate.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Potato Lamb Casserole

(Firinda Etli Patates)

Potato Lamb Casserole
250 g lamb, cut in cubes
2-3 tbsp diced tomato, in a can
1 cup hot water

3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 medium white potatoes, peeled, sliced
1 small carrot, peeled, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 or 1 1/2 cup beef broth
3 tbsp crushed tomatoes, canned
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook the lamb cubes with their juice without oil. After all the water evaporates, add 1 cup of hot water with diced tomatoes and cook on medium-low heat until the lamb softens.

Meanwhile, lightly fry the potatoes with sunflower oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then put aside. Then fry the carrots and onions. Stir occasionally. Lastly, add the garlic cloves. Turn the heat off when the smell of the garlic comes out.

Spread the lamb cubes in a medium sized casserole dish and arrange the fried vegetables on top. Whisk the crushed tomatoes with the beef broth and pour in from the side of the dish. Drizzle the olive oil, sprinkle crushed pepper, oregano, salt and pepper all over the top.

Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Cover the top of the dish, place on the middle rack and bake for about 25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

We love any kind of dish with potatoes in it. This is one of the classic Turkish recipes my mum used to cook. When I was a kid, I would always mush up the potatoes and carrots with my fork and mix it with the delicious juice of the dish.. I still do it sometimes remembering the old days... :)

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Red Lentil Soup, Carrot Salad, Amulet Borek, Raisin Compote, Celery Root with Olive Oil and Flour Helva.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vegetable Soup with Vermicelli

(Sehriyeli Sebze Corbasi)

Vegetable Soup with Vermicelli
2 tbsp butter
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 tsp salt (if the chicken broth is salty, adjust the amount of salt)
1/4 cup carrot, peeled, cut in small cubes
1/4 cup celery root, peeled, cut in small cubes
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp flour
3 1/2 cup chicken broth, room temperature
1/4 cup green beans, ends trimmed, cut in 1 cm long chunks
1 small white potato, peeled, cut in small cubes
1/4 cup vermicelli noodles
1/4 cup sweet peas, frozen
Black pepper

1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp dill, copped

Saute the onion with butter and salt for about 5-6 minutes in a medium sized pot. Add the carrot and celery, saute for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring time to time. Add the tomato paste, stir. Add the flour, stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and slowly add chicken broth while stirring. Put the pot back on the stove. When the it starts boiling, turn the heat down to low. Add the potato, vermicelli, sweet peas, green beans and black pepper. Cook for about 25-30 minutes over low heat and make sure to stir time to time.

Pour the soup on a service plate using a ladle. Sprinkle lemon zest, parsley and dill over the top. Serve this delicious Turkish Soup with lemon wedges on the side.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Grape Leaf Rolls, Ramadan Pide, Fried Eggplant & Green Pepper, Cantik and Revani.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Turkish Pide with Tomatoes, Black Olives and Cheese

(Domates, Zeytin ve Peynirli Pide)

Turkish Pide with Tomatoes, Black Olives and Cheese
Here's another Turkish Pide Recipe :) I posted Ramadan Pide last year.

Dough Ingredients:
7 gr instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 + 1 1/2 cup warm milk
4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups diced tomato, in a can (if you like, add more)

20-25 black olives, seeded, cut in half (do not use olives from a can)
1/2 cup feta cheese, cut in cubes
Kashar Cheese or Mozzarella, sliced
Crushed pepper

Tomato Sauce Preparation
Saute the onion with olive oil in a sauce pan for few minutes and add garlic. Cook until the smell comes out. Add the tomato, salt and pepper and cook until almost all the juice evaporates with the lid on.

Dough Preparation
In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm milk. Stir well so the yeast dissolves (picture). Let it rest for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift the flour and salt (picture). Add in the bubbly yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cup warm milk (picture). Mix and place the dough on the lightly floured counter. Knead well for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth (no more crumbles). Then spread 1 tsp of olive oil inside a clean bowl. Place the dough in it and spread another tsp of olive oil with your hands all over the dough (picture). Then cover it with a clean, damp towel. Put aside for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours at room temperature until the dough rises to double its size.

Place the dough on the lightly floured counter. Press all over with your hands to get rid of any air bubbles (picture). Cut the dough in 4 pieces with a knife. Knead and give a ball shape to each, cover with a damp towel, and put aside for about 15 minutes. Then use a roller to flatten each one (picture).

Place parchment paper on an oven tray, then arrange one flat dough (or two if it fits) on it. Spread some tomato sauce on the surface. Arrange olive halves, white cheese (feta cheese) cubes, and Kashar (Mozzarella) cheese slices over the top. Brush some olive oil along the edges.

Preheat the oven to 450 F (225 C) and put some water in an oven-safe bowl. Place it at the bottom of the oven. Place the tray on the middle rack and bake for about 10 minutes.

Before serving sprinkle oregano and crushed red pepper over the top, slice it up and serve while still warm with Ayran.

Makes 4 pide (pita).

Meal Ideas:
- Tomato Soup with Cream, Lamb with Grape Leaves, Zucchini in Olive Oil and Gullac.

Some Background

The bread commonly used during Ramadan was pide during the reign of the Ottoman Empire and presently as well. Soup is the starter for Iftar (post-sundown), without it the Iftar meal would be unthinkable. The preparation of the table with black olives, different varieties of cheeses, sucuk, pastirma, jams, etc. along with all the meze (appetizer) and other meals decorate the tables. And don't forget that desserts like Baklava are made in big round trays during Ramadan.

The start of Ramadan is announced by drummers, who also awake people for the Sahur (pre-sunrise). This tradition still continues today in many areas.

The Sahur meals are simpler than Iftar meals, for example compote with Borek or Pilaf are common. But recently Turkish Tea seems to have replaced the compote.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rose Sherbet

(Gül Şerbeti)

Rose Sherbet
4 fragrant petals of a leafy Rose, red or pink
3-4 tbsp sugar (you can add more if you prefer it sweeter)
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice

Place rose petals and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Crush the petals with the sugar using your hand until the petals break down well enough. Add lemon juice and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge* for at least 4-5 hours. Drain over a bowl using a strainer. Serve with ice cubes.

* I prefer to leave this drink in the fridge over night. The taste and colour are much better in this way.

Rose Petals

1 tsp rose water
2 tbsp sugar (you can add more if you prefer it sweeter)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup water
One drop of pink food coloring

Combine all the ingredients and blend with an egg whisker or a blender. Leave in the fridge* for at least 4-5 hours. Serve with ice cubes.

Makes 1 glass.

Meal Ideas:
- Tarhana Soup, Pilaf with Lamb, Eggplant with Veggie Filling, Chicken with Walnuts and Turkish Baklava.

What is Sherbet?

Sherbet "şerbet" is the world's first soft drink. Ottoman Turks drank sherbet before and during each meal. There was no custom of drinking water during the meal; sherbet or compote taken in the end replaced the water in the Palaces. Sultans drank fruit juice, lime juice or a sherbet during meals. They used an embroidered porcelain or coconut shell spoon placed on a special open box.

Sherbet is also served during Ramadan in crystal bowls or in tall cut glasses, or ornamented (with gilt flowers) glasses with ice cubes or snow. The sherbet glasses should be placed on a tray covered with lace or a piece of embroidered cloth.

Sherbet is still a traditional cold drink in Turkey. It is believed that sherbet has healing effects. In the gardens of the Ottoman Palace, spices and fruits to be used in sherbets were grown up under the control of pharmacists and doctors of the Palace.

Traditionally cold sherbet is served on especially hot summer days to please visitors. Also at weddings or during childbirth to increase lactation of the mother. This type of sherbet is called "lohusa şerbeti (birth Sherbet)" which is crimson in colour and is flavored with cloves and herbs.

Sherbet is made from fruit juices or extracts of flowers or herbs, combined with sugar, water and ice or snow. Depending on the season, types of fruit sherbets include; pear, quince, strawberry, apple, kizilcik (cornelian cherry), mulberries, pomegranate, bergamot, mint, strawberry, orange, etc. There is also a honey sherbet and a green coloured violets sherbet which is made by pounding violet-flowers and then boiling them with sugar.


Ramadan is a very special month for Turks. Two meals, one before sunrise (sahur) and one after sundown (iftar) are taken during Ramadan, referred to as the Sultan of all other eleven months. Throughout the month, the kitchen is in constant activity. Under the Ottomans, the varieties of courses increased during Ramadan at home. Inviting relatives and friends to the Iftar meal is still in tradition. Using good china, lace table cloths and all copper pots and pans are expected.

Happy Ramadan! I am going to post traditional Ottoman-Turkish recipes for Iftar and Sahur with menus during the Ramadan month, so check back often:)


Sunday, September 02, 2007


(Misir Ekmegi)

Corn Bread
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt, plain
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest

Loaf Cake Mold, oiled

Mix the corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, yogurt, sugar, egg, olive oil and lemon zest in another bowl. Stir into the dry ingredients and whisk. Pour the batter into the oiled Loaf Cake Mold.

Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Place the mold on the middle rack. Bake for about 45 minutes. Place the Cornbread on the wire rack so it cools. Then slice this delicious Turkish Cornbread and serve.

Egg Sandwich with Cornbread

Egg Sandwich with Cornbread
Spread some room temperature "Dill Butter" on a slice of Corn Bread. Place sliced hard boiled egg and arrange sliced pickles on top. Sprinkle crushed red pepper, salt and pepper all over.

Dill Butter*:
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp dill, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
Pepper for taste

Mix all the Dill Butter ingredients to get it creamy. Place on a plastic wrap and give it a cylinder shape. Keep in the fridge for at least one hour before using.

* You may substitute 1 tsp dill with 1 tbsp parsley.