“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
So I made Smoked Bhopali Köfte yet again a few days ago, this time a twist of taste with Turkish spices. I thought I’d shared the original recipe earlier, but just found it in my drafts! So here it is again, a recipe from an old aunt in Lucknow, one that is infinitely adaptable to taste as most curries are. This time it’s inspired by Turkish cuisine. Köfte or kifte, or kofte aka meatballs are found in possibly every cuisine and across different cultures. It is interesting to follow the trail to see how different cuisines have their own version of simply put, minced meal balls. India offers a smattering of vegetarian koftas as well – paneer, lauki, banana etc.
Kofta is a meatball or meatloaf and is a part of Jordanian, Albanian, Afghan, Azerbaijani, Arab, Armenian, Balkan, Bangladeshi, Greek, Indian, Israeli, Iranian, Kurdish, Pakistani and Turkish cuisine. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions. In Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, koftas are usually made of lamb, beef, mutton or chicken, whereas Greek and Cypriot varieties are usually made of pork, beef, veal or mixtures of them.
One of my favurite cusuines is of course Turkish cuisine, very adaptable to the Indian palette, very flavourful and fun. Takes me to back to Turkish flatbread pizzas or pides I made a while ago, or these Turkish Adana Kebabs which I make quite often. Turkey, once widely acknowledged as the centre of the ancient world, is a gateway between the civilizations that surrounded the Mediterranean and the Far East. It has long been called home by enterprising and hardy traders who introduced exotic spices and flavours between the two civilizations. Fertile land encouraged a varied cuisine, rich in meat, grains, seafood, fruit and vegetables.
If you get a chance to travel through Turkey, do try to make a point of seeking out traditional food, and we don’t mean to stick only (pun intended) with their mouthwatering kebabs. They have a heritage of well over 1300 years of history and a long and storied tradition in the making of delicious, must-try Turkish dishes sourced from the best of local ingredients. Here are some typical Turkish dishes that you should make a point to sample when you are fortunate enough to drop by for a visit via last minute package holiday deals with the family. Holidays also allow you to put your feet up and relax while you enjoy the delicious local dishes and delicacies on offer:
6 Must Try Turkish Dishes
1. Lahmacun translates from its Arabic roots as dough with meat, coming originally from Syria. The meat is minced lamb or beef with chopped onions, that has been cooked and flavoured with spices, usually cinnamon, allspice and chilli, although each recipe will be someone’s family tradition. This is spread over a flaky, flat bread, similar to pizzas, but traditionally rolled up to eat on the move, long considered as one of the original fast food in Turkey.
2. Menemen is renowned by travelers throughout Turkey as a hearty, tasty meal that sets you up for the day. The base is chopped onions, peppers and tomatoes, simmered in a frying pan with some paprika and black pepper, topped with eggs, which are either cooked whole, or stirred into the dish. Another very budget-friendly Turkish comfort food.
3. Börek are all essentially a form of pie, with a filling wrapped in pastry, usually containing meat, cheese, potato or spinach, or a combination of one or more of these, and come in a variety of shapes and styles. There are various shops that sell the pies, but the best come from specialist Börek shops, which are worth seeking out for your first experience of this dish. Ask for the house specialty and you are sure not to be disappointed as their pride and reputation will be at stake.
4. Köfte are a type of kebab made by forming a delicious mix of minced meat and spices, typically lamb and cumin, on to skewers, before broiling them over an open flame. You will find these all over Turkey, which is always a good sign, where they are eaten served with pitta bread, or served with a salad or in a fresh tomato sauce.
5. Bulgur Pilavi is similar to a rice pilaf but made with bulgar (cracked) wheat instead, and is a typical central Anatolian dish. The grains themselves have a pleasant, nutty flavour, but they simply form the base for a wide variety of additional ingredients, most commonly onions, tomato, peppers and mint.
6. Dolmas refers to a style of dishes that are very popular throughout the country. Meaning in Turkish simply ‘stuffed’ they cover a range of vegetables with either a meat or vegetable filling. The meat ones tend to be served hot and the non-meat cold.
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