Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taze Fasulye (Green Beans in Olive Oil)

Turks serve these beans once they have cooled down to room temperature (or even chilled), but they are also delicious served hot.

1 kg green beans (small fresh tender runner beans if at all possible)
250 ml extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sized onions, chopped
2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled & chopped(or 1 can chopped tomatoes)
2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp sugar
water to cover beans

Top & tail beans (many Turks do this by breaking tips off rather than cutting), then string them & break in half.
Pour olive oil into large pan & warm.
Fry onions until soft & translucent.
Add tomatoes to onions along with beans, salt & sugar.
Mix well & pour over enough water to cover beans.
Bring to boil, then turn down heat.
Cook beans on a slow simmer for approx 1 hr until tender & sauce is well reduced.
Try for texture.
Allow to cool.
Drizzle some olive oil & serve with fresh salad, natural yoghurt & Turkish rice (pilav, below) or bread.

Etli Kuru Fasulye (Turkish Lamb & Bean Stew)

400g white beans (dried & soaked overnight, or canned)
500g lamb or mutton chopped into small chunks (or beef or chicken)
4 tbsp butter
2 large onions, diced
2-3 large fresh tomatoes, peeled & chopped, or a tin of chopped tomatoes, or 2 tbsp tomato puree
2 cups lamb stock (or beef or chicken)
1 capsicum (feel free to be creative with colours), cut into medium sized chunks
sea salt to taste

If using dried beans, drain & boil after soaking over night for about 30 min until are just starting to become tender, then drain & put to one side.
If using canned beans, drain, rinse & put to one side.
Cook onions in the butter until golden.
Add meat to pan & brown lightly.
Allow any juices to evaporate.
Add tomatoes, capsicum & approx 1-2 tsp sea salt.
Cover & cook on low heat for about 45 min.
If you are in no rush, cooking time above could be extended to overnight in crockpot whilst beans are soaking with great results.
Add beans & stock (add extra stock if you wish, up to 1L), cover & let the stew simmer until beans are nice & tender.
Serve with pilav (Turkish rice) below.

Pilav (Turkish Rice)

3 cups rice
3 tbsp butter (do NOT use margarine)
4 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp salt

Rinse rice in sieve under cold water.
Place rice in bowl & cover with hot salted water.
Let stand until cool.
Wash again thoroughly in cold water (water should run clear) & drain well.
Melt butter in saucepan until it just starts to sizzle, before it turns brown.
Add rice & sauté for 2-3 min, stirring continuously.
Pour stock into pan, bring to boil, then turn down to simmer on low heat.
Don’t stir pilav whilst cooking.
Cook until rice has absorbed all water (10-15 min).
Add salt & pepper to taste.
Take pan off heat & remove lid.
Place clean kitchen towel or kitchen paper over the pot, & then replace lid.
Leave to “brew” for 5-10 min, then serve with some natural yoghurt & chopped spring onions.

Pilav can be added to and embellished in so many different ways. You can mix in mushrooms (Mantarli pilavı), add in chickpeas (Nohutlu pilavı), or do away with the rice altogether and use cracked wheat instead (Bulgur pilavı). Here’s another tasty pilav alternative for once you’ve mastered the basics.

Pilav with Peas

ingredients as above
150 g peas

Boil peas or sauté in butter until tender.
Follow recipe for rice as above until adding stock.
When you turn down heat after boiling, add peas, stir in quickly, & then continue to follow basic recipe.

Afiyet Olsun (Bon Appetit)!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Persian Chicken or Duck in Pomegranate Walnut Sauce (Fesenjan)

Fesenjan, also known as khoresht-e fesenjan, is typically made for special occasions in Iran. It is traditionally made with duck or pheasant in north along Caspian sea. It is thick, rich, sweet-sour dish that improves in flavour next day. Pomegranate syrup, sometimes called pomegranate molasses, is available in most Middle Eastern & health food stores (make sure it doesn't say "sour"). If using fresh pomegranate juice, use 1 1/2 to 2 cups & reduce amount stock or water used in recipe. Adding 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or 1/2 tsp cinnamon when sautéing onions will add a richer flavor. Add more sugar if sauce is too tart, or lime or lemon juice if it is too sweet. A peeled & cubed eggplant is sometimes added. Sauté eggplant along with onions. You may need to add little more liquid as it simmers.

1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup oil
1.15kg chicken or duck (cut up, bone-in)
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 cups walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken stock or water
2/3 cup pomegranate syrup
2-3 tbsp sugar
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Sprinkle meat with lime juice & allow to marinate for 1-4 hrs.
Over medium heat in large, heavy-bottomed pot heat 1/8 cup (2 tbsp) of butter or oil until shimmering.
Add chicken/duck pieces a few at a time & brown on all sides.
Remove to plate.
Add onions (& eggplant, if using) & sauté in remaining butter or oil until translucent.
Stir in ground walnuts & sauté for 30 sec.
Add stock or water & browned chicken/duck pieces. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover & simmer 20-30 min.
Stir in pomegranate syrup/juice, sugar, salt & pepper.
Taste & adjust seasoning.
Sauce should have balanced sweet-sour flavour.
Simmer another 15-20 minutes until chicken/duck is tender, sauce is somewhat thickened & walnuts begin to give off their oil.
Serve with plain white rice.