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x0x Preserving the tastes of summer: Dried foods

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  • Turkish Radio Hour
    x0x Preserving the tastes of summer: Dried foods By Can Kiziltan As summer makes way for autumn in the towns and villages of Turkey, the task of preparing
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2004
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      x0x Preserving the tastes of summer: Dried foods

      By Can Kiziltan

      As summer makes way for autumn in the towns and villages of Turkey,
      the task of preparing winter foodstuffs begins. This is a tradition
      that goes back thousands of years. Until modern times it was crucial
      for every household to preserve and store sufficient food for the long
      winter months, and neighbours still get together to help one another,
      turning the hard work into an enjoyable social ritual. Since large
      quantities are involved, the work is carried out in the sofas (shared
      living area of a house), courtyards and terraces. Yufka (large, paper
      thin circles of bread) are rolled out, baked and piled up to the
      ceiling; flour, yoghurt and spices are kneaded into tarhana dough and
      spread on clean sheets in the sun to dry for winter soup; vegetables
      are purchased when they are most plentiful and at their cheapest in
      the markets for making pickles; sheets of pastry are sliced
      rhythmically on wooden tables to make dried noodles, the tapping of
      the knife mingling with the shouts of children playing and the chatter
      of the women.

      Green peppers, courgettes and aubergines hollowed out ready for
      stuffing and hung on strings to dry adorn the house walls and
      balconies like brightly jewelled necklaces. Today, thanks to tinning,
      shock freezing and the spread of greenhouse cultivation, almost every
      type of fruit and vegetable is easily obtainable throughout the year,
      but this has by no means affected the popularity of traditional dried
      foods. On the contrary they have gained in popularity in recent years
      due not only to their distinctive and irreplaceable flavour, but to
      the newly awakening interest in ecological foodstuffs. Peppers are
      perhaps foremost among dried foods, and stuffed dried peppers are
      truly delicious. Indeed some people enjoy them so much, that they even
      make this dish in the summer. Green and red peppers, the latter
      generally hot, are dried separately. The stalks and seeds of the small
      green bell peppers used for stuffing are removed, and then they are
      threaded onto strings and hung in the shade to dry. Red peppers on the
      other hand are hung in the sun.

      Aubergines are similarly topped and hollowed out with a round ended
      knife, threaded on strings and hung in the sun hollow side down. The
      aubergine tops and centres are not thrown away but cut into chunks and
      also spread in the sun to dry, ready to be used in various winter
      dishes known as mIcIrIk a$I, ba$ kavurmasI or doGrama. Courgettes are
      scraped and left to soak in plenty of water, scraped again, cut into
      10-12 centimetre lengths and hollowed out with a special corer. Then
      they are sprinkled with salt, threaded on strings and hung up to dry
      in the sun. Tomatoes are either made into tomato paste or dried. For
      the latter they are cut into two or four pieces, liberally salted, and
      spread on rush mats in the sun. In the Malatya region cherry, quince
      and bean leaves are gathered in April and May, dried and used for
      stuffing. So for a feast of sundried flavours in the winter months,
      try this selection of recipes for Turkish dishes made of traditional
      dried vegetables.

      * Can Kiziltan is a freelance writer.

      STUFFED DRIED VEGETABLES (Peppers, aubergines and courgettes)
      Ingredients: 20 mixed dried vegetables 250 g minced meat 1 cup rice 3
      medium onions 1 tblsp tomato paste 1 tblsp pepper paste 2 fresh
      tomatoes 3 cloves garlic fresh parsley and dill dried mint, cumin,
      black pepper, salt 1/2 cup oil Preparing the stuffing: Finely chop the
      onion, garlic, parsley and dill. Grate the tomatoes. Add the minced
      meat, rice, half of the tomato and pepper paste, dried mint, spices,
      salt, 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 water. Blend well.

      Method: Boil a saucepan of water, turn off the heat, toss in the dried
      vegetables, cover and leave for half an hour. Drain and fill the
      vegetables with the stuffing. Arrange in a saucepan. Add water to
      cover, the remaining oil, and the remaining tomato and pepper paste
      diluted with some water. Weigh down the stuffed vegetables with a
      china plate that fits easily into the saucepan, cover and cook over a
      medium heat for 40 minutes. Leave to stand for a few minutes before
      serving.

      PEPPERS IN TOMATO SAUCE
      Ingredients: 150 g dried peppers 1 onion 2 cloves garlic 1 tbsp pepper
      paste 1 tbsp tomato paste Cumin, black pepper and salt 1/3 cup oil
      Method: Toss the dried peppers into boiling water, remove from the
      heat and leave to soak for half an hour. Finely chop the onion and
      garlic and fry over a medium heat in the oil until coloured. Dilute
      the pepper and tomato paste with plenty of water, add the spices and
      salt, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the dried peppers and add to the
      sauce. Stir over the heat for 10 minutes, then place in a serving dish
      and decorate with sprigs of parsley and dill.

      STUFFED LEAVES (Quince, cherry and bean)
      Ingredients: 250 g dried leaves 1 tblsp flour 1 egg 1 tsp sugar 1 kg
      yoghurt 3 onions 2 tomatoes 2 cups fine bulgur salt
      Method: Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour over 1 cup of boiling
      water. Cover and leave for half an hour. Meanwhile place the dried
      leaves in hot water, soak for half an hour and drain. Knead the bulgur
      well and placing hazelnut sized pieces on each leaf, roll them up to
      the thickness of cigarettes, tucking in the edges as you roll. Place
      the stuffed leaves in a saucepan, add sufficient water to cover and
      cook over a medium heat until the leaves are tender. In a separate
      saucepan blend the flour, egg, sugar and yoghurt with salt to taste
      and half a litre of water. Stir over the heat for 15-20 minutes, then
      pour over the stuffed leaves and continue to simmer for another 10-15
      minutes. Meanwhile finely chop the onions and fry in 1/4 cup of oil.

      Add the grated tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon some of this
      sauce over each helping
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