Tag Archives: turkish

Spiced Chickpea Falafel Cakes with Tahini, Yogurt and Mint Sauce

22 Jun

It may surprise you to find that this is the first time I have posted a falafel recipe. Falafels are emergency vegetarian food, especially when out and about. Wherever you are there is normally a Turkish kebab shop that can save your life when starvation takes hold and you need something quick and tasty.

I have a theory though. A falafel conspiracy theory, if you like. I think that the falafels you buy in most Turkish or Lebanese restaurants or cafes are made out of a packet mix. I know, controversial. My reason for this slanderous outburst is sound and based on personal experience. Theirs hold together and mine, do not. See the picture below for an example of a very lovely falafel we bought from an Israeli vendor at the market.

 Along with a delicious tabouli salad, spicy tomato dip, broad bean dip and cheese and potato puffs. Perfect picnic food. For when your friends have very kindly allowed you to spend the day by their pool while they are away.

I also some bought some gorgeous gladioli and a big box of irresistible looking plums at the market. I see plum recipes coming up. Anyway back to the falafels.

Correct me if I am wrong, and I am sure you will, but aren’t falafels made from chickpeas? The ones you buy seem to be made from bulgur wheat or couscous. They have a distinctly grainy inside that looks and tastes nothing like a chickpea, cooked or uncooked. Am I the only person that has noticed this? Don’t get me wrong they taste great and I love them but pureed chickpeas they ain’t.

That’s my excuse anyway. I’ve tried with cooked chickpeas and dried, soaked overnight chickpeas. Whatever, I have always had a disaster. Either too dense, hard and chewy because I’ve added so much chickpea flour to make them hold together or too sloppy and they fall apart and disintegrate as soon as I start to cook them in the oil. Until now that is…..

…actually that is a little bit of a lie. The first lot of these I cooked in oil and they disintegrated as usual. Tasted good but had to be scooped into a flatbread and eaten.

My success came about through baking them rather than frying. Mould them into patties, dust with a little polenta or cornmeal, brush with a tiny amount of oil and bake for about 30 minutes. They are still not the most stable of snacks, you couldn’t throw one at someone from the other side of the pool, for instance but they are soft, delicious and a little crumbly.

And they taste of chickpea. Enhanced with a few herbs, spices and harissa. Perfect. You just need a little tahini yoghurt sauce and a squeeze of lemon.

Spiced Chickpea Falafel Cakes with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

Serves 3, makes about 9, vegan, (without the sauce) gluten-free.

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking Time 30 mins

  • 1 tin/jar cooked chickpeas (400 gr), drained, rinsed & dried
  • 50 g of fresh peas (not frozen too wet) optional
  • 25 g hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  a big handful of chopped fresh herbs, I used, mint, coriander, parsley & oregano
  • 1/2 tsp or more harissa paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • the juice of half a lemon plus wedges to serve
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • polenta or cornmeal fro dusting

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smoothish and it has come together. If you need to, add a bit more lemon juice to get it moving but not a lot. Taste and adjust seasoning. Mould into cakes and put in the fridge to firm up for a while or overnight.

When ready to cook preheat oven to 200 C. Put the polenta on a flat plate and roll the patties in it to lightly coat all sides. Line a baking tray with baking paper place the patties on the tray and brush very lightly with a tiny bit of olive oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until slightly browned and serve with the tahini yoghurt sauce.

Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

  • 1 pot (125ml) Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a handfull of fresh herbs, chopped I used mint, coriander, parsley & oregano
  •  a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch ground cumin
  • a pinch sumac (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust lemon & salt as necessary.

Serve the falafel cakes with the tahini yoghurt sauce, lemon wedges and some salad leaves. In a flatbread/pita or not, it’s up to you.

I might have to buy a packet mix for falafel just to find out if that’s what they use. Just to prove to myself really. If it’s not I can’t understand it, any ideas?

Flowers on Friday and My First Guest Post

20 May

I don’t have the time to post a recipe today as I have my cousin Michelle staying with me and we have been busy sunbathing and hiking to a waterfall!  I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some photos of flowers that I’ve taken this week. Who knows it might become a regular spot. So here is the first Flowers on Friday selection…

And the waterfall…..

Today is my first ever guest post over at Veggie Grettie. Gretchen has an extremely informative blog full of interesting articles and recipes about nutrtition and a vegetarian/vegan diet. This is what she says..

“I believe food is the ultimate  medicine.  I am a Certified Nutrition Specialist with Certification in Plant Based Nutrition through Cornell University.  All of my research has led me to the  conclusion that a plant based diet is optimal.

At a young age I experienced health problems.  Despite numerous doctor appointments and numerous tests, no one had any answers as to why I was so ill.  Unfortunately I also experienced health issues in high school and college which at times were debilitating.  Toward the end of college after having been to many specialists and receiving many wrong diagnosis’ (along with suggestions that my health problems were psychosematic) my parents convinced me to try one last specialist,  Dr. Arnold Kresch of Stanford University.  Dr. Kresch finally had a diagnoses for me; endometriosis.  After performing surgery to remove my lesions, Dr. Kresch encouraged me to research nutrition and how it could be a powerful force in my quest for health.

For the past 15 years I have been able to manage my endometriosis through diet and exercise.  I have personally experienced the healing powers of nutrition have been able to nurse myself back to even better health than before through a plant based diet.  I am passionate about sharing my nutrition knowledge with others and can be found doing so through Veggie Grettie, as a Columnist for Chic Vegan, a freelance writer, and a Brand Ambassador for NEXT by Athena.” 

If you have a chance please check out her blog Veggie Grettie and have good look around. I would like to say a big thank you to Gretchen for featuring my recipe for Ezogelin Corbasi (A Turkish Red Lentil Soup) and am really happy that all the family enjoyed it so much!!

Ezogelin- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint and Sumac

11 May

I had to make this soup when I read the story behind it. It sounds like an ancient myth but is actually from the 20th century. I love a tragic love story that includes a recipe don’t you?……

Ezo-gelin translates as Ezo The Bride. The origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who lived in the village of Dokuzyol near Gaziantep in the early 20th century. Legend has it that Ezo, with her rosy cheeks and black hair, was admired by travellers along the caravan route who stopped to rest in her village. Many men longed for her hand in marriage and Ezo’s family hoped to secure a worthy match for their daughter.

Unfortunately, Ezo the bride, didn’t have much luck when it came to finding marital bliss. Her first husband was in love with another woman and she divorced him on grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she became homesick for her village and had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased. It is for her, the story goes, that Ezo created this soup. After bearing 9 children, poor Ezo died of tuberculosis in the 1950s and has since become a Turkish legend, depicted in popular films and lamented in folksongs. Her name lives on in this popular soup, which is now traditionally fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that lies ahead.

It kind of reminds me of Princess Diana’s story with the husband in love with another woman and the very difficult mother-in-law. Maybe they should have fed it to Kate before her wedding to William!!

I love the idea of a tradition where the modern brides in Turkey are fed a soup with a story to prepare them for their married life ahead. It’s in stark contrast to the custom in the UK where the bride dresses up as a tart in a veil with  L plates stuck to her drinking as many shots of Tequila as possible while watching a slimy male stripper with a can of squirty cream. Give me the soup any day…..

The original soup contains bulgur wheat which I have replaced with quinoa to keep it gluten-free. Sumac is a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is sold in powdered flakes and has a smokey, spicy, lemony flavour. See picture below. If you don’t have any leave it out, just make sure you have the lemon wedges to squeeze over and fresh mint for the top.

Ezogelin Corbasi- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint & Sumac

serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp tomate frito (tomato paste)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1  tbsp dried mint
  • 150 gr (1 cup) dried lentils, red lentils if possible
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) wholegrain rice
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) quinoa or bulgur wheat
  • about 1 1/2 litres veg stock (or a mix of water & stock)
  • 1 tbsp sumac (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  •  fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnish
  • sumac for garnish (optional)
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots & celery with a pinch of salt for 4 or 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Then add the garlic, cumin seeds, paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne, tomato & tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes

Add in the lentils, rice & quinoa (or bulgur wheat) and stir to coat in the tomatoey spices. Add the veg stock/water, season well with salt & black pepper, add the dried mint and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes everything is tender.

If you like you can remove a ladleful of the soup and blend it until smooth, then add it back into the soup. This gives it a smoother thicker consistency. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning, add more salt or mint if necessary. Bring back to the boil.

Serve in warm bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh mint leaves, a little sumac and some lemon wedges to squeeze over.

I would think this soup could be a good hangover cure for the bride recovering from a few too may tequilas as well.  Just remember poor Ezo….

Turk(ish) Pizza with roasted squash, shallots, chilli, garlic and feta

16 Mar

 It has taken me a long time to find the perfect pizza dough especially because I want a wholemeal version. Most of my attempts up untill now have turned out like pastry rather than pizza.

By perfect I mean, thin, crispy and bubbling at the edges. To find my perfect pizza I did a lot of research and this is a hybrid of three different recipes I found. The lovely dough is from here and it is made with beer. It caught my eye because of the beer and thinking about it, it makes sense. If you want a bubbly crust add bubbles, it works with tempura and beer batter so why not with pizza.

The thing I have learned about getting a crispy base is don’t overload your pizza with toppings (especially tomatoes) as they make the base soggy. My favourite Italian restaurant, La Pergola in Fuengirola, have a dish called base de pizza which is not really a pizza at all. It is a pizza base with  roasted garlic and parmesan which they serve with the homemade chilli oil to drizzle over, it is so good. It is actually a starter, like garlic bread but we order it every time we go as a main dish because we can’t bear to not have it. We share that and a bowl of their homemade pasta, normally the parpardella al funghi. I’ve never tried their pizzas, which I’m sure are amazing too, because every time I go I have to have the base de pizza.

So for my perfect pizza topping I found a recipe for Roasted Onion & Garlic Parmesan Pizza which looked ideal. But then I found a recipe for Turkish Pizza called Pide which was topped with spice roasted squash, feta and chilli that I couldn’t resist. So I put them both together added some fresh herbs for a bit of greenery and came up with this gorgeous pizza which I just had to share with you. The flavours are unusual for a pizza but, I think, all the better for it. You should try it, it’s delicious….

Turk(ish) Pizza with Roasted Squash, Onion, Garlic, Chilli & Feta

makes 4 individual pizzas, vegetarian

For the dough: Adapted from The Red Spoon

  • 1 packet of active dry yeast 7 gr
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 55 ml warm (not hot) water
  • 150 gr white bread flour
  • 300 gr wholemeal bread flour
  • 165 ml or more of warm beer
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix together the yeast, honey and warm water in a large bowl and leave for at least 10 minutes until foamy. When foamy add in the flours, beer, olive oil and salt and stir to combine. You may need to add a splash more beer to make it come together.

Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth.  Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 & 1/2 – 2 hours.

Cut the dough into quarters and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.

For the topping: Adapted from Delicieux & The Best I Ever had

  • 5oo gr butternut squash, peeled and cut into about 1cm cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp baharat seasoning & 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • salt & black pepper
  • 3 0r 4 large shallots, cut in half & peeled
  • 1 whole bulb garlic, chop the top off
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • about 75 gr finely grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese
  • 200 gr Greek Feta
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven 2oo C.  On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, put the squash on one half, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes, the Baharat seasoning & cinnamon. Toss everything together with your hands and spread out in one layer. On the other half of the baking sheet, put the shallots & garlic bulb, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, toss to coat and put the shallots cut side down and the garlic bulb cut side up. Roast for 25 – 30 minutes until everything is browned and the squash is tender. Leave to cool slightly then slice up the shallots and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their paper cases.

Now back to the dough. Preheat/turn up the oven to 220C and heat up 1 or 2 large baking sheets. (You can probably only cook one or two pizzas at a time). Roll out one piece of dough, on a floured surface as thinly as possible, brush all over with olive oil and place on a piece of floured baking parchment. Scatter over a quarter of the onions, smush on a quarter of the garlic, sprinkle with a quarter of the parmesan, a quarter of the oregano, a quarter of the chopped chilli and tumble over a quarter of the squash.  Season with a little salt & pepper and crumble over a little of the feta. Repeat with the next piece of dough etc..

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until browned & bubbling.  Crumble over some more feta and sprinkle with the chopped coriander & parsley.

Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!!

    
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