Harissa versus Biber Salçası

I discovered Yotam Ottolenghi in England. I love his books, because they are full of new ideas and combinations. His books are a source of inspiration for me. Too bad I can not watch his culinary travel programs on Canal D in England, but I found them on Youtube :) I made a pot of tea and sat in front of my computer and watched his “culinary trip to Tunisia”. Stunning views and countless varieties of fish dishes. Yotam Ottolenghi got a kind of “Ceviche” served by Pepe and fish soup and of course the famous “Brik”. I just wanted to pack my suitcase and travel there immediately.

Yotam Ottolenghi also mentioned the world famous Tunisian paste “Harissa” and was about to buy a jar of Harissa paste. The companion of Yotam Ottolenghi saved him from purchasing a jar and promissed to show him their homemade harissa.


The two Tunisian sisters showed Yotam Ottoglenghi their family recipe. I was very curious and quickly took a pen and a pad. I was ready to take notes. I listened and couldn’t believe my ears and eyes; they made a chili paste similar to our “Biber salçası” from Turkey.

The lady from Tunisia had soaked dried chili peppers, which they turned through a meat grinder to get a fine paste. Then they salted the paste and their harissa was ready to use!

My aunts make chili paste in the following way: The fresh red peppers that are grown especifically for this paste in eastern Anatolia, are sliced, cored and dried in the sun. Then the peppers are pressed through a meat grinder, best two times to get a fine paste. The chili paste thus obtained is again placed in the sun and dried a few days in shallow plates. Then, the lightly dried paste is boiled with salt (to make it last even longer) and filled into sterilized jars.

The main difference seems to be that the Tunisian “Harissa” paste is prepared from dried chili peppers and the Turkish “Biber Salçası” from fresh red peppers, but which are dried previously ;)

Yotam Ottolenghi does not fail to tell us that everyone in Tunisia has its own recipe for “Harissa”. Sometimes the people add spices such as cumin and coriander to their harissa paste. I tried the recipe of the Tunisian sisters and made harissa with dried peppers. It is challenging to get a fine paste using a blender, thus I add a little olive oil. I prefer to season the dish with cumin and coriander and not my really spicy harissa ;)

In Turkey, there are different variations too. Some mix fresh and dried chillies for their chili paste. Others stir in further herbs and spices and add olive oil and enjoy this paste as a spread on bread. As usual, the imagination has no limits. And the world is culinary closer than some might think. Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!

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Posted in Gluten free, Mediterranean, Turkish Food, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Pastry with Tahini — Tahınlı Çörek

Happy Birthday dear Bushcook! We wish you all the best for the future and hope to read more culinary reports on your food blog.

I made some Turkish pastry for your birthday event “Souvenirs in der Kueche

4. Geburtstags-Blog-Event - Souvenirs in der Küche

Everytime when I visit my family in Turkey I bring special ingredients back home. This time I had tahini with roasted sesame seeds and date syrup. Delicious!


I love this dark nutty tahini and the date syrup is just heavenly.

For my pastry I form two groups of each four dough balls.


I roll out the dough balls to 10 inch diameter and spread tahini on three of them and place them over each other.


The last one I do not cover with tahini.


I roll out these group at once to a one big rectangle. Now I spread again evenly tahini on top of this rectangle.


Starting from the narrow side of the dough sheet I roll the rectangle into a thick roll.


I slice this roll into 1 inch pieces.


Now using a Turkish rolling pin or a wooden spoon handle I press firmly into the center and to get a “butterfly shape”.

Tahinli Coerek7

Now I can transfer these pastries on a parchment paper and bake until golden brown.


The pastries are so fine flaky and slightly crispy and delicious with tea or coffee. Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!


For the dough:
200 ml milk
50 ml neutral oil such as sunflower oil
1 small egg
2 tablespoons of date syrup
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 500 g plain flour

8-10 tablespoons of sesame paste (tahini)

To brush: 1 small egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

  1. Put all ingredients for the dough into a food processor for kneading and let it first knead at lowest level for 2 minutes and then about 5 minutes on higher level. Let the dough rest until dobbled in size.
  2. Half the dough. Form each half to four dough balls. Roll out these dough balls to 10 inch diameter pieces. Spread on three of them tahini and layer them over each other. The forth layer you leave plain. Now roll out this two groups of four dough layers each into a rectangle in the size of your baking tray. Spread on this rectangle again tahini. Starting from the narrow side roll the rectangle into a thick roll. Slice about 1 inch pieces. Now using a Turkish rolling pin or a wooden spoon handle I press firmly into the center and to get a “butterfly shape”. Place these on parchment paper leaving space between them. Let the pastry rest again for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  4. Mix egg yolk and water in a bowl. Brush the pastry with egg-wash.
  5. Bake the pastry in the oven until golden.
  6. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm. Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!
Posted in Pastries, Turkish Food, Vegetarian | 6 Comments

Turkish Ravioli with Kadaifi Pastry — Kadayıflı Mantı

In one case, the Turks are very similar to Italian or French: They prepare their food the same way as always. Tradition in the preparation is very important, the main thing is, it tastes good and makes everybody happy. Their aim is to make everyone feel good. The food is always at the center of the common social life, little spice compositions may change here and there, but the food should taste like always.


For several years, new innovative chefs enchanted Turkey with their creations. They prepare the familiar dishes in a new way and breathe new life into the dusty kitchen philosophy. So a few Turkish chefs have begun to experiment with the ingredients as kadaifi pastry or baklava pastry sheets which are traditionally used for desserts. Needless to mention, that meat and fish can be wonderfully wrapped in baklava pastry sheets or kadaifi pastry. The Turkish cooking magazines are full of new ideas with kadaifi pastry or baklava pastry sheets. This movement in Turkey was noticed first by the English speaking chefs and they begun to experiment with these ingredients. The TV chefs in Germany are now experimenting with kadaifi pastry and baklava pastry sheets, too.

I enjoy this new openness, freedom to develop and inventiveness in Turkish cuisine. I want to share this new development with you and will try to share new recipes with you.

Today, we will start with Turkish ravioli in kadaifi pastry. You need fresh kadaifi pastry, you can get in larger Turkish or Parkistani grocery stores. Especially before and during Ramadan.

Open the kadaifi pastry pack purchased and unfold the kadaifi pastry gently. Often you can unfold the pastry and then see a loop with kadaifi pastry with a length of about 30cm. I unfold the pastry twice and halve these in the middle, so that I get kadaifi pastry strings in the length of 25-30 cm. Then I massage melted butter into the kadaifi pastry strings. Thus the kadaifi pastry is silky and soft. From the meat mixture I shape hazelnut-sized dumplings. I wrap kadaifi pastry around the dumplings and place them on a lined baking tray. This way I coat the meatballs with kadaifi pastry. Then I bake my fake “ravioli” until golden and serve them with garlicy-yogurt and mint-tomato-sauce. Crispy and delicious! Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!

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Lemon Tarte – Limonlu Tart

A few weeks ago my friend Claudia surprised me with Meyer lemons. I had read a lot about this wonderful fruits but I couldn’t get them at our small farmers market. You can imagine how happy I was to finally get the chance to try out these fruits. :) :) :) Thank you Claudia!


Meyer lemons look like small oranges in the shape of lemons and they taste of lemon and orange in one fruit. The peel is very thin and soft but extremly aromatic. When I started to take off the zest, the kitchen was filled with an orange-lemon cloud. Wonderful! There I decided to take out a recipe from my collection, which was resting there for the last 20 years. I wanted to use the zest and the juice of this wonderful fruits for the pastry as well as for the filling.


The tarte is juicy and creamy at the same time. In Germany I use only “sweet creme butter” for the filling. In English speaking world you can use either clotted cream or double cream. The pastry is similar to shortbread dough with lemon aroma.


Outside the sun was shining and inside the sunny golden lemon tarte was waiting for us. We had a wonderful afternoon tea with fresh-creamy-lemon tarte. A perfect day! Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!

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Posted in Almost forgotten ..., Pastries, Sweets | 2 Comments

Pulled Lamb – Tandır/Fırın Kebab

The poet Celaleddin Rumi left his mark in Konya. In Turkey the people named him Mevlana – it could be translated as “our priest”. The former monastry is now a museum near a huge mosque. The whirling derwish are known all over the world.


The museum is on a little “island” surrounded by busy roads, but the noise seems to be shy to go inside and glides just along the walls and away into nowhere. Within the monastry walls you will find a beautiful rose garden and a few fountains. In the museum there are the graves of high decorated Sufis. The graves are covered with lovely ornamented fabrics.

At the entrance you read one of my favourite rhymes: Whoever you are, wherever you come from, our doors are open for you!

Within the monastry walls in small surrounded buildings you can admire pages of ancient books, musical instruments and daily tools.

Whenever I visit my family there I also visit Mevlana and afterwards we feast kebabs. The two dishes you must try in Konya are “Etli Ekmek (long thin pita bread with meat filling, a larger variation of the Turkish pizza “Lahmacun”) and Tandır/Fırın Kebab (Lamb baked in a special stone oven)”. The last ist our favourite in Konya. The best adress for this is a small restaurant in a side street near Mevlana. The restaurant is called “Kebabci Haci Sükrü” and has now a second restaurant in another destrict called Meram.


The pationate cook “Hacı Şükrü” created this kebab and opened his restaurant in 1907. The restaurant is now successfully in the hands of his grandchildren and great grandchildren who continue the old tradition. The family restaurant is very simple and cosy.


The meat melts in your mouth and is only served on thin pita. The guests decide how much meat they want on their pita; the price depends on the weight of the portions. The kebab is served with seasonal salads and pickles and raw onions of course. The last is a must with meat dishes.


We went to the restaurant last time in January and got a winter salad and pickled chilis.


Of course, I’ve been trying to learn the secrets of this dish. The manager was very friendly and sat down and explained to me how they proceed. Very important is of course the quality of the meat. They use only “Merinos sheep” from the region. Other animals are not allowed into their pots. They also use mostly only the shoulder and filet of male lambs !!! They marinate the meat simply and season with salt and pepper and cook the meat slowly in copper pans in a stone oven that is heated with oak wood. Depending on the age of the animal the meat needs about 3-3.5 hours, male sheep about 4-5 hours and female sheep about 6-7 hours until nicely cooked and tender. The meat is cooked only in its own juice and fat. The cook pours from time to time some of the roast fat over the meat and turns over the meat occasionally during the cooking process. To serve the meat the cook pulls the roast apart and places the meat on bread and lightly sprinkles with its own fat or with the gravy from the pot to prevent the meat from drying out. From 3 kg raw meat they get only 1 kg roast for serving. The chefs start preparing this dish very early in the morning, so at 11 am they can serve the first portions for lunch time.

Simplicity is the secret! Enjoy your meal! Afiyet olsun!

Address: HACI ŞÜKRÜ FIRIN KEBAP SALONU, Devricedid mahallesi Cemsultan caddesi No:327/A (Maliye Sarayı civarı, Adalhan Karşısı) Selçuklu / KONYA, Telefon: +90-332 352 76 23 oder im Stadtteil Meram: Yorgancı Mah, Dutlu Cad. 42090 Meram-Konya, Telefon +90 332 325 2829

For the recipe:

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Posted in Almost forgotten ..., Turkish Food | 4 Comments

Turkish Spiced Schnitzel for the “Schnitzel Chase”


Blogevent SchnitzeljagdPeter started an event called “Schnitzel Chase” and he is looking for Schnitzel recipes from all over the world. At first I thought, how can I participate. But then my brother called and asked for “Schnitzel with potato wedges and tomato sauce” Hmhh! That was my go-ahead ;)

Over the years I have learned a lot from TV celebrity cooks about the “perfect fried schnitzel’: Nicely beat the meat flat, coat with bread crumbs and fry floating in loads of ghee or oil. Don’t forget to shake the pan back and forth while frying and always spoon the hot fat over the edges of the schnitzel. ;)

Over the years I started experimenting with spices and I season my veal schnitzel with allspice, chiliflakes and sesame seeds. I serve the schnitzel with potato wedgres from the oven and my sweet and spicy tomato sauce.

Allspice !! Sesame !! Chili flakes !! What a nonsense !!! This can not taste! There is only one way to find out ;)

Thanks to the crunchy batter the meat stays tender. The tomatoes are cooked with spices in the oven, then pureed and passed through a sieve. The potatoes taste better when they are briefly precooked and then baked in the oven until golden. Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!

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Posted in German, Turkish Food | 12 Comments

The memory of a cup of tea lasts 40 years. Bir bardak çayın 40 yıl hatırı vardır.

As soon as we land in one of our home countries, I start smiling and can’t wait to see my family and friends, who came to pick me up. It is so wonderful to meet the beloved people. They wait for us and pick us up wherever and whenever we arrive. And everytime the time runs by to quickly we even don’t notice it. It doesn’t matter how long we stay, if it is just a long weekend or the whole summer, it never seems to be long enough, it is always too short. Many friends come over and leave with the words “stop by for a cup of tea before you leave”.


Tea is our national drink, anyone claims otherwise has not been to the real Turkey. At our home the teapot is always refilled. There is always time for a cup of tea. Shopping in Turkey is a delight, whenever you step into a shop, they show you a chair to sit down and offer you a glass of tea :)

Maybe this is due to our Turkish tea ceremony, because it takes some time to prepare Turkish tea. Therefore we also take more time for our guests. After all, the samovar has to be set up, the water must be “boiled” long enough and the tea needs encouragement and time to rest. The tea must be clear and red and golden in colour.

I love tea and it is always difficult for me to ignore the tea invitations of friends and acquaintances. It may even happen that I stop by for a quick glass of tea before leaving for the airport.

On our last visit to Turkey, we met a very nice family and the lady of the house invited us so often to tea that we finally knocked at her door. She was so happy, beaming all over her face, that we had taken time for them. She immediately called her husband and son, who promptly closed their shop early to come over for tea. She ran into the kitchen to put the tea on. We decided to follow her into the kitchen to help her, and at least to be with her as long as she prepared the tea. By doing so we of course cut all existing formality rules.

She wanted to set the table in the salon for us, she wanted to bake and cook for us, but there was no time. So we all sat together at the kitchen table. Her husband and son joined us. And she whirled around in the kitchen. Because “Çay vakti -Teatime” in Turkish means “put everything on the table, whatever you find in your cabinets” and see for yourself how varied that can be at a short spontaneous teatime.


I do not really know how long we sat there. We chatted happily forgetting the time, we got to know each other better and became close. In Turkey, we have a saying: with the first cup, we get to know each other, we become friends with the second cup and with the third you’re family.
Our family is growing. The next time I have another door to knock at. Like another Turkish saying declares: “Bir fincan kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır – The memory of a cup of coffee lasts 40 years.” This is also true for “Çay – Tea” :) In this sense, let’s rise our tea cups and afiyet olsun!

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Review: “Kürbis. 120 geniale Rezeptideen” von Maria Wurzer, Löwenzahn Verlag 2014

Titelbild„Kürbis, 120 geniale Rezeptideen“ von Maria Wurzer, erschienen im Löwenzahn Verlag 2014

*****Five Stars: A must have for all squash lovers. The author has created about 120 recipes with different squash varieties. Delicious recipes for every day dinner or for festive occasions, the author demonstrates that you can use squash for savoury as well as for sweets. With over 80 vegetarian recipes, this cookbook is a great treasure box for vegetarians, too.

This cookbook is only available in German! Sorry!

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Rice Salad with Fruits and Yogurt – Meyveli Pirinç Salatası


For several years I observe the phenomenon of food-blogs. Many passionate people write about cooking, baking and especially about enjoying food. They tell us stories about markets, they review books and restaurants, report from events and hotels. We get wonderful reports with inviting, professional photos. It’s amazing and beautiful! A delight! Their inspiring new ideas are just stunning, these people are so creative. They collect the best ingredients from around the world in their kitchens, they order the finest fruits and qualitatively best ingredients: Oranges from Spain, truffles from Italy, chocolate from France and baking ingredients from the mill. The titles for their dishes are more detailed than usual and sound as beautiful as a poem. You can feel the passion and dedication to the world of food and you are hooked and read their reports. They change the culinary scene with their articles. The chefs are amazed what this hobby chefs and gourmets are able to create and serve.

The best thing about these food-blog-phenomenon is that they look out of the box. That they open their heart for the world of different cuisines and ingredients and they combine fearless and bring the whole world into their kitchens. Thank you so much!

The inspiration for the dish today comes from India, the pomegranates from Turkey, the grapes from Italy, the tomatoes from Spain and the cucumbers from Germany and because I have created it, I give the salad an additional Turkish name. The world in my-our kitchen, according to the motto: We cook, we bake, we enjoy and we write about our wonderful and colourful world and share it with YOU!

I wish you a healthy and delicious year 2015! Enjoy it! Afiyet olsun!

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Posted in Gluten free, Mediterranean, Turkish Food, Vegetarian | 6 Comments

Fried Turnover with Cheese Filling — Çiğ Börek

The literal translation of the name for these pastries is “raw pastries – Çiğ börek”. Not because they are eaten raw, but because the filling is not pre-cooked. The filling is cooked by the hot steam that forms inside the pastries during frying in hot oil.


To tell you the truth, the term “Çiğ börek” is based on the original name of the Crimean Tartars dish “Chiburekki”. These pastries filled with minced meat are a Tartarean dish, they brought to Anatolia centuries ago. Thus these dishes have served as an everyday dish in Anatolia for a very long time.

In my dreams I imagine how many travellers passsing through Anatolia got to enjoy these pastries and told everywhere they went about these simple but delicious comfort food they had in the middle of Turkey. I imagine how they told cooks about it, and how the recipes travelled and entered the kitchen of the ottoman palace. I love to think how the palace chef served these dish to the emperor as a midnight snack with a lovely rose sorbet. What did the emperor think? ‘This cook is crazy serving me a simple pastry’ but than the emperor tasted it and was enchanted and a new tradition for midnight snacks at the ottoman palace started ;)

The cooking was historically reserved for men – except in the domestic kitchen, which was primarily intended for women. Perhaps you have heard of the many specialty cuisines during the area of the Ottomans or read about them or even visited the Palace in Istanbul?! The men dominated the paid cooking jobs and they specialized in certain foods and prepared this special food day in and day out for decades in the same way. And “Çiğ börek” were always the “pastry filled with spiced raw minced meat and then fried in oil”. Full stop, that’s it.


Even nowadays, When you travel in Turkey you will notice that these recipes are still prepared the same way since centuries, no changes in pastry or filling. But who could effort to buy minced meat for an everyday dish?! So again, the women messed up, started nibbling at the old traditional recipes and changed them to their liking. They filled the pastries with raw vegetables, cheese or with lots of onions and herbs and baked them in oil. Yumm! A small revolution in the domestic kitchens, yeah! ;) Today, the title “Çiğ börek” is a very stretchable name.

Another popular version is without a filling, therefore the dough is only slightly pulled apart, fried in oil, sprinkled with sugar and served. My mother used to make the latter very often on Thursdays and distributed them to all our neighbours. Why on Thursdays, now that’s another story.

I wish you a wonderful day, enjoy your food! Afiyet olsun!

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Posted in Turkish Food, Vegetarian | 8 Comments