Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Global cuisine - Turkish

Hmm, it's been a while. We have been following our pledge. I've just been rather lousy at posting about it. After our week in Morocco, we continued across the Mediterranean to Turkey. While I have always wanted to visit Istanbul and Hagia Sopiha, I have had very little idea about what Turkish food consisted of.

[Sorry, no food pic this time - pilaf isn't really that photogenic. Instead, a lovely picture from Lonely Planet of Istanbul, a city I long to visit]

I should admit now, it is a lot more work than I anticipated cooking a country a week. You have to choose a country, thinking about what's in season and available at that time of year. You have to find recipes (my two favorite places have been the internet and the public library) and choose those which coincide with seasonally available produce (at least in my mind you should). Then you have to track down any specialty ingredients you might need (Japan - Saki, France - Duck fat, Turkey - Grape leaves). And each night, after work or school, you have to be up for learning new techniques and trying new things. Don't get me wrong, it's a blast. But it has resulted in me looking for the simplest meals at times - which I suppose is something someone from any country would do after a long day of work. Leading me to admitting that while cooking Turkish food, we ate a lot of pilafs.

Pilafs are awesome. Essentially, rice, barley or couscous cooked in a flavoured broth with tasty bits added in. They take rice to a whole new level for me and the recipe I have below was my absolute favorite of the lot. While it only has 6 ingredients, the flavours are rich and delicious and the ingredients are super easy to find.

Chickpea Pilaf
1 can drained chickpeas (390g net)
175 g long-grained rice*
1 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons butter
600ml stock (I like chicken)
1 large bunch of spinach, washed and chopped
Pepper to taste (salt is in your stock)

1) Melt butter in large pot, or wok, and add onions. Cook until soft. Stir in chickpeas and rice. Pour in stock, season with pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, until almost all liquid has been absorbed. Stir in spinach until it wilts in.

2) Remove pan from heat, cover with a clean, dry teatowel and press the lid down tightly. Leave to steam 15-20 minutes.

3) Fluff gently with a fork and serve.

*I am learning so much about the different types of rice, how they vary taste-wise and cooking-wise. It's great.

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