Tag: Traditional Foods of Turkey

BRÖTCHEN | Ninda Purpura / Küçük Ballı Ekmekler TURKEY MESOPOTAMIA Hittite, Babylon and Sumer honey breads

The bread called ninda in ancient Anatolian, Sumerian and Babylonian societies started with a pre-ferment that combined flour ground from einkorn wheat, with honey and molasses. After a couple of days this pre-ferment was added to flour, honey and water, then rested overnight before baking early the following morning.

Various ingredients – butter, cheese, figs, honey, molasses, olive oil, peas, salt – were added to the dough to make elaborate versions in various shapes for different occasions. This was a firm dough. Hydration would have been low and not high like modern doughs.

Ancient breads had a dense texture, a closed crumb compared with the open crumb of modern breads. They were not breads with big holes like the baquette and the ciabatta.

The fermentation method is still in existence today in the Trabzon region where sourdough bread has remained popular.

According to Ahmet Ünal, author of The Oldest Dishes of Anatolia / Culinary Culture in Hittite and Contemporary Societies, Anatolia has the oldest cuisine in the world after ancient Egypt, Sumer and Babylon.

Ever since the ancient cuniform texts were first translated, the opportunity to compare this ancient culinary culture with modern methods and devices has been grasped by creative bakers, cooks and chefs. With the re-emergence of einkorn wheat in Turkish farming it has become possible to test and re-define the ninda bread culture.

We offer here the original version with only the pre-ferment and a modern version with rye sourdough and yeast.


  • 120 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 100 ml water, warmed
  • 30 g forest honey
  • 15 g pomegranate molasses

Whisk the water into the honey and molasses, add a third of the flour, stir. Cover, leave to ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. Add half of the remaining flour and leave for a further 24 hours. Add the last of the flour and leave for another 24 hours. The loose dough should have begun to ferment and emit a sour smell.


  • 500 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 250 g pre-ferment
  • 150 g water
  • 150 g honey

Mix honey and water into the flour with a wooden spoon. Mix into a slack dough, cover and leave overnight.

Add the pre-ferment to the mixture, leave to rise for two hours.

Cut dough into 100 g pieces, shape into balls, palce on a baking tray, leave to rise again.


  • 500 g + 45 g whole einkorn wheat flour
  • 350 g spelt flour
  • 300 ml + 75 ml water, warmed to 38ºC
  • 250 g pre-ferment
  • 150 g honey
  • 40 g rye sourdough
  • 25 g yeast
  • 15 g bread improver

Mix the large amount of einkorn flour and the spelt flour with the large amount of water, autolyse for 60 minutes.

Warm remaining water in a saucepan with the honey, add to a bowl containing the yeast, whisk into a froth.

Combine honey-yeast liquid, bread improver and pre-ferment into the first mixture to form a slack dough. With wet hands knead into a smooth dough.

Leave to rise for two hours.

Dust a clean surface with two tablespoons of einkorn flour.

Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, around 140 g each. With floured hands shape into balls, rolling them in the flour. Place on a floured baking tray.

Leave to rise for two hours.


  • 30 g honey
  • 15 ml hot water

Put the tray in a cold oven, bring heat to 230ºC. When the temperature reaches 230ºC, reduce to 180ºC and bake for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, apply honey glaze.

Legendary Dishes | Hamsi Diblesi (Black Sea anchovies with kale and rice)


To celebrate the amazing relationship between anchovies and kale, we are reminding you again of this recipe from Banu Özden’s Traditional Tastes of Turkey.

  • 500 g Black Sea anchovies, cleaned
  • 5 leaves of kale, washed and sliced
  • 200 g rice, washed
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 150 g butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Combine the kale, rice, onion, parsley, salt and black pepper in a large bowl.

Place half of the butter on the bottom of a pot, add half of the rice mixture then layer the fillets of anchovies.

Top with the rest of the rice mixture and butter.

Add 100 ml of water and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes.


Black Sea Anchovies (Hamsi)


THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Üsküdar | İçli Köfte (bulgur meatballs)

Crust (dough)
  • 500 ml  water, boiled
  • 350 g bulgur, fine ground
  • 150 g semolina, fine ground
  • 30 g walnuts, fine ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Semolina, coarse, for coating

Soak bulgar and semolina in the hot water, leave to rest for 30 minutes, then add the walnuts and seasonings. Wet hands and knead into a soft dough.

Core (filling)
  • 250 g beef, double minced
  • 200 g onions, chopped
  • 100 g walnuts, coarse chopped / fine ground
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
  • 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • 45 g red pepper paste / tomato paste (quantity optional)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml pomegranate molasses
  • 15 g  red pepper (paprika) flakes
  • 1 tsp sumac, ground

Sauté onions in oil, about 15 minutes. Add the meat, break and fry for three minutes. Add paprika, sumac and walnuts. Increase heat, stir for three minutes until the walnuts release their oil. Stir in the molasses and paste, leave to cool.

If desired, work the herbs into the mixture. Divide dough into walnut-sized pieces, about 30 g each. Using thumb and forefinger make a cavity with thin sides in the bulgar dough. Place 10 g of filling inside the cavity, push down and fold dough over the filling, seal and shape into a ball.

Deep fry in sunflower oil at 190°C until golden or shallow fry in a large frying pan or bake in a 200°C oven or boil in salted water.

Note: The pastes can be bought in jars but they are easy to make if good fresh red peppers and tomatoes, preferably Turkish, are available.

Note: For a colourful description on how to make red pepper paste go here.

Note: The crust for icli köfte is not always made with bulgar. Semolina became a crust ingredient along with nuts aeons ago. Wheat grits have also played a part while in more recent centuries potatoes have been combined with eggs and flour. Some recipes call for double-ground meat to be added to the various flours that define the crust. The bulgar can be coarse ground and also fine ground, the latter producing a crispy crust. The cooking method is also variable. According to Sahrap Soysal, author of A Cookery Tale, fried icli köfte are called irok, while the boiled version is known as igdebet.


1 Norwegian Breakfast

Lefse – Potato Cakes

Once upon a time travellers on Norwegian Railways sleeper trains were handed special tickets by the train chief. ‘These are for your breakfast, go to the hotel across from the station,’ the chief would explain to bemused travellers. The sight on arrival in the grand hall of the grand hotel was a grand breakfast, an assortment of hot and cold foods that had no rival anywhere in the world. Sadly this tradition has lapsed. On the sleeper trains between Oslo, the capital of Norway, and Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim and between Trondheim and Bodø in the far north, a modest breakfast is served onboard. The grandiose buffet breakfasts are becoming a thing of the past, but some hotels are clinging to tradition by presenting modest grand buffets. Think of every possible breakfast food that is served across Europe, add the Norwegian love for loaves and fishes, cheeses and crispbreads, bacon and eggs, pickles and potatoes, and then something you never imagined.

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Cheese – Brunost Cheese – Gamalost Cheese – Gudbrandsdalsost Cheese – Jarlsberg Cheese – Norvegia Cheese – Pultost Cheese – Ridder Cheese – Snøfrisk Coffee
  • Crackers
  • Crispbreads
  • Eggs – boiled, fried, poached
  • Fishes – Klippfisk (cod), Lutefisk (lyed cod or ling), Sild (herring)
  • Leverpostej (liver paste)
  • Milk
  • Museli
  • Pickles
  • Lefse (potato flatbreads)
  • Potatoes
  • Smoked bacon, grilled to a crisp
  • Smoked salmon, with lefse or toast
  • Tea
  • Toast
  • Yoghurt

2 Welsh Breakfast

Bacon and eggs are a traditional breakfast throughout Europe, cockels and laverbread less so. In south Wales the sands stretch the length of the Gower peninsula. This is the cockel shore – a place of the laver. Laver is a soft purplish sea vegetable found at Atlantic shores, picked from rocks at low tide. It is thoroughly washed in two changes of water, drained, cooked and sold dried or fresh.

  • 8 slices smoked back bacon
  • 400 g laver pulp
  • 100 g oatmeal
  • Cockles
  • Eggs

Combine laver pulp and oatmeal, shape into 5 cm wide, 2 cm thick cakes. Fry bacon, remove, allowing fat to drip into the frying pan, keep warm. Bring heat up, wait until the bacon fat is starting to smoke, then fry the laver cakes, two minutes each side. Serve with bacon, sausages and poached (or fried) eggs … And fresh cockles.

3 Irish Breakfast

  • 8 potatoes
  • 4 mackerel, filleted
  • 90 g butter
  • Seasonings

Boil the potatoes in their skins. Pan-fry the mackerel in half of the butter, skin-side down first. Serve with the potatoes, split in half, a little butter in each.

4 Sicilian Breakfast

  • 2 squid, cleaned, cut into small pieces
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 5 g chilli flakes
  • Water, for boiling

Bring water to the boil, heat oil in a deep frying pan. Place squid in the boiling water, boil for 90 seconds, then transfer it to the frying pan. Flash fry squid, about three minutes, adding the chilli after two minutes. Deglaze pan with lemon juice, pour over squid, serve.

5 French Breakfast

  • 16 oysters
  • 4 slices thick country bread
  • 4-6 slices streaky bacon
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 15 ml anchovy sauce
  • Pepper, large pinch
  • 4 wooden skewers

Shell the oysters, soak in the anchovy sauce and lemon juice. Season, wrap a piece of bacon around the oyster, skewer, four to each stick. Toast the bread and place the oyster wraps under a hot grill for two minutes.

6 English and Scottish Breakfast

  • 600 g haddock / smoked haddock, cut into chunks
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 350 g long grain rice
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 75 g onion, chopped
  • 25 g butter
  • 5 g parsley, chopped
  • 5 cardamoms, crushed
  • 3 g cinnamon
  • Turmeric powder, very large pinch
  • Seasonings
  • Water, for boiling

Sauté onion in butter in a large frying pan for ten minutes, add bay leaf, spices and seasonings. Stir rice into the onion mixture, add stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Simmer haddock in water for five minutes, flake and set aside. Chop eggs into small pieces. Stir the eggs, fish and parsley into the rice, heat through, season.

7 Swedish Breakfast

  • 2 litres water
  • 250 g smoked salmon, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices wholewheat bread
  • 10 g salt
  • Black peppercorns, crushed

Salt the water and bring to the boil. Break an egg into a small bowl, carefully let it slip into the water, reduce heat and poach for three minutes, remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. Repeat with remaining eggs. Toast bread, place a poached egg on each slice, garnish with equal amounts of the salmon and a sprinkling of black pepper.

8 Turkish Breakfast

  • 1 kg Black Sea anchovy fillets
  • 250 g corn / maize flour
  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • Sunflower oil

Pour flour into a large bowl, dredge anchovies through flour, place side by side on plates. Heat oil, fry anchovies until crisp, drain. Serve with lemon juice.

9 Greek Breakfast

The art of preparing octopus for the grill has consumed the time of Greeks for centuries. The tenderising process alternates between pounding, freezing, baking, marinating and slow cooking. Yet the one method that remains infallible is drying the whole fish under a hot sun in a light breeze.

  • 1 kg octopus, sun dried
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml vinegar
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp oregano

Blend the oil and vinegar, cut the octopus into pieces. Marinade in this mixture for an hour. Grill under a high heat for three or four minutes until the flesh is tender. Serve with vinaigrette of lemon juice and oregano.

10 Russian Breakfast

Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat describes caviar as ‘the last legendary food of modern times’. Traditionally caviar was made from the roe of wild sturgeon in the nutrient rich Caspian Sea.

It came in four varieties: –

Beluga (pale to dark grey eggs from the larger fish, up to 1000 kg).

Oscietra (various coloured eggs from the smaller fish, 300 kg).

Sevruga (dark grey to black eggs from the smallest fish, 60 kg).

Sterlet (a very small sturgeon that is almost extinct).

Seruga is thought to be too strong for a breakfast caviar, beluga too rich, which leaves oscietra, a light nutty caviar. Because of its flavour, roe from the Icelandic capelin is accepted as caviar and suitable for breakfast.

  • 2 eggs
  • 80 g oscietra caviar / black capelin caviar
  • 45 ml kefir
  • 45 g flour
  • 10 g sugar
  • Baking soda, large pinch
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt, pinch

Whisk the kefir into the eggs, season, add flour and soda to make a smooth batter, leave to froth. Heat some oil in a hot frying pan, pour a tablespoon of the batter into the centre of the pan, remove from heat. When holes form on the surface, flip over, and after a few seconds press with a spatula into the pan, putting it back on the heat for a minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with the caviar.

Legendary Dishes | Aş Çorbasi (einkorn soup)


For a taste of the neolithic this soup made with origin wheat is emblematic, just make sure your chicken stock has a high percentage of fat to bind the flour and produce a creamy texture. Seasonings 10,000 years ago would have been different and when we get an inkling of what they were we will tell you, but you can be sure they would have included indigenous herbs.

  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 150 g einkorn whole flour
  • 150 g onion, chopped small
  • 45 g red pepper flakes
  • 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp dried mint / thyme
  • 5 g salt

Fry onions in the butter in a soup pot, add two tablespoons of red pepper flakes, then the stock, bring to the boil. Add the flour, stirring with a whisk. Cook over a gentle heat for an hour.

Serve sprinkled with the herbs and remaining red pepper flakes.

Breads of Europe | Pide (flatbread)

Pide dough at first stage of rising, dough temperature should be 25ºC


The Turkish flatbread comes in various shapes, crusty and soft, and is rarely unadorned, made thick to hold or fill numerous meats and vegetables. Large rounds with an uneven surface are generally soft with a spongy crumb, baked at a low temperature, small ovals are flat and crisp, and more often than enclosed into a tear-drop shape with a lazy eye opening. Either way they have to puff up.


  • 500 g strong white wheat flour
  • 200 ml lukewarm water
  • 100 g sourdough
  • 1 egg / 45 g thick yoghurt
  • 30 ml oil
  • 25 g yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 15 g black sesame seeds

Activate yeast in sugar and 75 ml lukewarm water. Sift flour with the salt. Add yeast mixture to flour with the yoghurt and oil, the remaining water and more if necessary to make a pliable dough, about 15 minutes kneading.

Leave to rise for one hour, fold out air and leave for a further hour.

Preheat oven to 250°C and heat two baking trays. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Knead, flatten and stretch into ovals. Leave to rest.

Remove the trays, oil and put back in the oven for five minutes. Carefully place two of the ovals on each tray, wash with the egg and sprinkle with seeds.

Bake one tray at a time on a low rack for 10 minutes.

Legendary Dishes | Antepfıstıklı Tavuk (chicken with pistachios)

  • 4 x 300 g chicken breasts
  • 600 g yoghurt
  • 200 g pistachios, coarse chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red pepper paste / tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Whisk the yoghurt, red pepper paste or tomato paste, olive oil and seasonings.

Marinate the chicken in this mixture, refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll the chicken breasts in half of the pistachios.

Transfer to a baking dish, spoon the rest of the marinade over the chicken breasts, sprinkle with remaining pistachios, cover with aluminium foil.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Serve with rice pilaf.

Legendary Dishes | Buhara Pilavı (rice with carrots and lamb)

  • 400 g lamb, cut into 3 cm dice
  • 400 ml meat stock / water, boiled
  • 300 g long grain rice, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
  • 200 g carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
  • 150 g onion, sliced thin
  • 4 tbsp butter / oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Melt a tablespoon of butter or pour oil onto a frying pan, begin to sauté the onions. Cover and fry gently for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and creamy. Place the fried onions in the bottom of a deep saucepan. Put the lid on, and keep warm.

Add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the frying pan, sauté carrots for 10 minutes. Add the carrots to the onions. Heat through.

Add two tablespoons of butter or oil to the frying pan, fry the lamb for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir into the carrots and onions in the saucepan.

Spoon the rice on top of the carrot-onion-lamb mixture, season and pour in stock or water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Once dimples form on the rice, place a paper towel between the pan and the lid. Turn the heat down to lowest setting. Cook for 5 minutes.

Take the pilaf off the heat, rest for 15 minutes with lid on.

Before service, place a plate on top of the saucepan, carefully invert to put the lamb mixture on top of the rice. Serve immediately.


Condiments | Apricot Paste

The ancient people of Anatolia and the Levant are believed to be the creators of this method of preserving apricots for use in confections and pastries. Also known as apricot leather.

  • 2 kg apricots
  • 200 ml water

Halve apricots (retaining the kernels for future use), simmer in the water until they are soft, about 20 minutes. Liquidise, pass through a sieve and place the pulp on a buttered baking dish. Cover with cheesecloth and leave to dry in the sun until dry and leathery.

Alternatively, place the tray in a low preheated oven, around 90°C, and bake for about two hours.

Obviously the natural method will produce a better product.

This apricot leather can be cut and reconstituted in warm water for various uses, in soups and stews, and in cakes and pastries. One such is the Viennese Sachertorte, arguably Europe‘s favourite chocolate cake.

Legendary Dishes | Chorba / Ciorba (bean and vegetable soup)


A mixed vegetable winter soup laden with brown, red or white beans, variations of this soup are found throughout the eastern Balkans and among the Black Sea and Caspian Sea countries as a winter stable.

  • 3 litres water
  • 400 g brown / red / white beans
  • 400 g carrots, grated
  • 300 g tomatoes, chopped
  • 250 g onions, chopped
  • 150 g roasted red pepper paste
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 30 g sweet paprika
  • 20 g parsley, chopped
  • 15 g mint, chopped
  • 10 g vegetable bouillon
  • 10 g savory / sage, chopped
  • 5 g salt

Soak beans overnight. Bring to a boil in a large pot, remove scum. Lower heat, add onions followed by carrots and tomatoes. Cook for an hour, add red pepper paste followed by the herbs and spices, then the oil. Ladle 100 ml of the soup with roughly half and half liquid to solid and blend into a purée. Continue to cook until beans are tender. Finish with parsley.

Serve with country bread.

Legendary Dishes | Ekşili Patlıcan Doğrama (aubergines with chickpeas and beef in lemon sauce)


If using a cut of beef (instead of minced beef), put the cubes in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender. The cooking liquid is your broth. If using minced beef, make a broth with bouillion.

  • 4 aubergines, cut into medium dice
  • 500 ml water + 10 g bouillion
  • 400 g beef, minced / beef, cut into medium dice
  • 400 g chickpeas, boiled
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 150 g onion, sliced
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 60 g red pepper paste / tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 5 g salt

Sauté the onions in oil. Add garlic and, if using, the minced beef. Cook until the meat is brown, add choice of paste. After a few minutes, add aubergines, cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chickpeas and, if using, the cubed beef, the broth or bouillion and salt. Cook on a low heat for 60 minutes. With 15 minutes to go until the end of cooking, add the lemon juice.

Legendary Dishes | Pogača (bread cake)

Punjena Pogača – stuffed version

There are hundreds of recipes for this iconic bread cake, popular across the Balkans. They all follow the same basic recipe with subtle differences between the quantity of the ingredients – liquid (milk and water or both) plus eggs, fat, oil and yeast – and the dry-wet ratio. If it is more of a bread the ratio should be 550 millilitres wet (egg, milk, oil, water) to 1000 grams dry, with a margarine fold into the dough or smeared on top. If it is more of a cake the ratio should be 650 millilitres (butter, cream, egg, juice) to 1000 grams dry. Some recipes combine the two methods to produce a pastry made with a slack dough of butter, eggs, milk, oil and yoghurt.

Punjena Pogača

stuffed bread cake

  • 600 g white wheat flour, t500
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 150 ml margarine, softened
  • 120 g cheese, cubed small
  • 120 g salami, cubed small
  • 2 eggs, 1 with white and yolk separated
  • 20 g yeast dissolved in 50 ml lukewarm water, with two tablespoons of flour and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar, for between thirty and sixty minutes depending on the ambient temperature
  • 10 g sesame seeds
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried, crushed

Sieve flour into a large bowl, add whole egg and egg white, sour cream, margarine, salt and yeast mixture, knead into a soft dough. Leave to rise for an hour.

Divide dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a thin round, divide into eight triangles.

Put salami cubes and cheese cubes into a bowl, season with oregano and large pinches of black pepper and salt, place a tablespoon of this mixture on each triangle, shape into a round bun.

Coat two round baking trays with oil and a sprinkling of flour. Arrange the buns in a circle, in a tight side by side formation but leave the central area clear. Cut the remaining buns in half and fill the center with the tops of the buns round side up. Brush surface of each dough with egg yolk wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 250ºC until the surface begins to brown, about 15 minutes.