Monthly Archives: August 2013

Turkish Delights Part 2- Memoirs of An Indian Health Forager

Continued Fromhttps://kajalbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/turkish-delights-part-1-memoirs-of-an-indian-health-forager/

Contents

  • Health Bites  : Get Street Smart in Turkey
  • Health Cab    : Healthy Turkish Vocab Tips
  • Recipe           : Dishy Dolmas
  • Turkish Street Smart Health Bites

Fruits and Dried Fruits  – Turkey is  famous for its Cherries (kiraz) Apricots (kayısı) Turkish watermelon (karpuz), dried sultana raisins, apricots and figs. Guven is the first dried nuts and fruits shop in Turkey with an official quality standard .They have recently opened a big flagship store in Kemerburgaz.

Orange juice – everywhere again. There is the sour turunç, a Turkish citrus variety, which is joined by the Seville and sweet Portuguese, or portakal oranges,

Traditional chai : a milk less tea ; healthier if you substitute the cube sugar or avoid it completely.(please note :Tea does contain tannins and is a stimulant. Use with care

Winter drinks are: cinnamon flavored sahlep, a drink made from powdered iris root, and boza, a  fermented barley drink.  Sour cherry juice, turnip juice, rose tea and elma çay, apple tea

Simit Turkish bread- I found very few eggless and doubtingly butter less versions

Pilaf– Rice and beans  look out for the veg one and chuck the yoghurt on the side

Olives–  over 50 in all.  Grown in the Marmara, Aegean, Mediterranean and Southeast Anatolia regions. The key varieties are the Memeli, Donat, Ismir Sofralik, Ayvalik, Ekiste, Elebi, Erkence, Gemlik, Memecik, Trilya, and Uslu.

Pumpkin/sunflower seeds-The pumpkin seed is a treat to munch in the busy streets of Istanbul

 Gozleme The turkish crepe- My favorite the spinach.

Cig Kofte  : çiğ köfte is a spicy spread made of fine bulgur, tomatoes, and red pepper paste. To avoid meat version order as a durum (wrap ) instead.

Nuts-all especially hazelnuts and pistachios

  •  Healthcab Alert Like  the French the Turks are very proud of their mother language and very few speak English but Surprise Surprise  a lot of parallel words to Hindi as the origin is Urdu eg chai, hisaab, kitab, har, hafta, mehshur, dushman and more..

-No fish  :Balik siz

-No meat :Et siz

-No dairy:sutlu mammuler.  This  was a tough one even for the all veg breed so trust your instinct there- avoid creamy as most contain yogurt and order your own meal

-Little oil:az yag Though I was in olive country  I knew a lot more was coming on my plate than I bargained for so would have to say this often. –

-Little salt:az tuz  

  • Recipe

Traditional Turkish Dolmas : Dolma is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak, ‘to be stuffed’,  It is  a vegetable that is hollowed out and filled with stuffing. This applies to zucchini, tomato, pepper, eggplant, wine leaves and the like. This is a healthier version of a recipe my Turkish friend Hulya helped me source for our Dolma trial from Burcu’s Turkish blog. http://almostturkish.blogspot.in/2007/07/vegetarian-stuffed-peppers-zeytinyal.html. I have used date sugar instead of white and brown rice instead of  white.

pepper dolmas

Ingredients :

10 small green bell peppers

1 cup brown/unpolished rice

2 medium size onions, finely chopped (you can use a food processor)

3 tomatoes, grated

1 tomato (this one is for covering the tops of bell peppers after stuffing)

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup currants

1 tbsp all spice

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp mint flakes or ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped finely

½ tsp date/brown sugar(sulfur free)

salt

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup olives

Process

-Mix well all the ingredients (except for peppers and 1 tomato) in a bowl.

-Wash peppers and take out the top part and the seeds.

-Stuff the peppers with the rice mix with a spoon or your hand.

-Cut small pieces from 1 tomato to cover the top part of peppers. Press the tomato slice down a bit so that it won’t come out.

-Place the dolmas in an oven dish which is as tall as dolmas. Pour on top 2 cups of boiling water.

-First let it boil for 5 minutes on stove. Then, bake it in a preheated oven at 400F for 35-40 minutes until rice is cooked and tops are browned. Check them regularly if you don’t want to burn the tops.

-Can be served warm or cold

Happy Healthy Cooking!!

copyright@kajalbhatia  

Turkish Delights Part 1 – Memoirs of an Indian Health Forager

Resonating sounds of Merhaba, Merhaba made it clear – “I’m in Turkey!”  The start had been a good one- the well serviced Turkish Airways flight with its new and improved menu had won me over. The  potato salad wrap was definitely something to write home about and the fresh greens almost made me forgot I was eating them mid-air. 

As I enter the Eurasian land, memories of my previous visit are quickly conjured up. I wonder,  will the Turks now know  me as one of their own, albeit from the Asian side ? . Yes! Evet ! When we met our friend Ergun. he was quick to indulge me with the national obsession, the Turkish chai, and I was reassured . The tea for me though a very rare occasional social drink was  a treat in itself, stylishly served and sipped as the Turkish do, thankfully sans milk in their beautiful glasses.

My first brush with the country 3 years ago left me wanting more. The blue green waters, the stone work, the Turquoise overload, the culture, the food , the architecture, the people, but since then a lot has changed for them and me. As the Turks look for better governance and me for better health, will it be different for me in the land of the feta? Well, that’s all I can remember eating earlier in the name of so called good health. But life has taught me better. This trip I was introduced to a paradise of fruits and veggies in Turkey –  it is a delight for the true  health seeker, not only for its pro med diet but also for its vast array of vegetarian and dairy-free mezzes variety.

The land of the magical Bosphorus  and the Sultan ehmet offers much more than the usual fare of Italian, Chinese and Indian that I am usually used to seeing overseas. Food is not an issue in this land and given an option health food is at arms length if you forage . In the smoldering June heat the excitingly over juicy watermelon and the  succulent rocket leaves became my morning staple of choice. And surprisingly, my 14 year old was also lapping this combo along with his super juicy peaches cherries and olives!!

. As I bustled my way through this land exotica, I especially loved my day trips. Day 2 to the supermarket and the Spice  bazaar with its endless display of spices and herbs both were a food crawlers delight. The latter, a gastronomic paradise since 1664 .Coriander, cinnamon, sumac, cumin ,paprika,   curry powder, Iranian saffron, several types of pepper and more competing for display space . The Grand Bazaar served up more than I had anticipated- unknown, promising ingredients and other delights along with a variety of alluring carpets (check out Cinar right outside Grand Bazaar ), glass mosaic lamps and uniquely crafted jewellery.

The  Cappadocian soujourn east of Istanbul  and in the heart of Anatolia took me through amazing terrain, underground cities, cave cafes and hotels , and the best grapes in the country , the wine  there rated by most connoisseurs as first grade. Their  grape seed oil  – an antioxidant   used as therapy for various ailments. Tried borek a local snack made  with patatas instead of cheese but could not Take down  – super super oily stuff. Our desi samosas far edible A dip in the salt lake sea on my way back was a good pedicure for my weary feet. Nature provides the best luxuries….

Next, my Turkish friend Hulya led us to a small local town, Altinoluk. It is off the tourist map, down the the Aegean sea and before the uber hip party town Bordrum I had visited last trip. We went to meet her family- a patriarch retired grandfather and his litter running all around the place. I was enthralled with the idyllic setting- picturesque, a real wonderland. People old and young cycling everywhere- tricycles bicycles two seaters, copy segways . Women with children tied to their backs running home style cafes making the most delicious gozleme– a Turkish style aloo paratha  along with turkish chillies– it was my main  hot accompaniment on this trip. The beach market there surprised me too as I met a cafe owner couple who had opened their smoothie outlet with an all veg cafe – a first in this town. Their Turkish style Falafel a 9/10. At night, the pier transformed into a carnival. Oh! I never wanted to leave.

Back in Istanbul I met up with old friends; Levent, a first class home style chef who introduced me to a Turkish farmer style market and cooking- pilaf, bean staple, artichoke delite, dolmas, gozleme all gently simmered in olive oil. Oh how differently Indians  use oils! Interestingly the Turkish call pasta -Macarana and cake -pasta. Dolma  Recipe put up in my subsequent Turkish -2 installment.

As we scurried through the various by lanes of the hip Galata Beyoglu Taksim square munching zinc laden pumpkin seeds (most alkaline of all oilseeds), I also sensed a vibrant energy through the locals, just like in New York’s Times Square and Madison square Gardens. It seemed a peaceful protest was underway in Taksim square; candles lit everywhere in memory of the bravehearts who lost their lives

flashes off; candlelights on

flashes off; candlelights on

My experience at a turkiye bar again reinforced why I love this land. They love their music – men & women ,young & old danced and swayed to melodies new and old; rock pop sufi subconsciously bringing in the dervish element .

A must do is the Turkish hamam- give the spa a miss but do not miss the hamam, it is a revelatory experience. Detox here is at its best, go ahead and shed the skin for the new and get scrubbed by the old knit cloth pese in style . The local Hamams are a great bang for your lira though the Calagoglu (only for women) while the Ayasofya hurem sultan Hamami are the notable and more expensive versions .

Our final destination the Prince Islands was a delight in itself, beautiful roads, seaside cafes, quaint homestays, opulent villas  and delectable  date cakes.

What can I say ? This country  surely deserves its nazar bonju !!