Gözleme is a flatbread with a savory filling. It requires a lot of mastery to roll the dough to its required thinness to make the tastiest and crispiest gözleme.
The name derives from the Turkish word “göz” meaning “compartment,” in reference to the pocket of dough in which the various fillings are sealed and cooked. The origins date back thousands of years in Anatolia. It is common to see gözleme vendors, often older women sitting in the markets and shop windows rolling their dough on large round wooden boards.
It is a popular Turkish street food and a special part of the delicious Turkish breakfast. It can be filled with various fillings such as mashed potatoes, cheese and parsley, spinach and cheese, ground meat and onions. Gözleme goes very well with a glass of çay (Turkish black tea) or ayran, traditional Turkish yogurt drink.
(Makes about 5 gözleme)
-3 cups plain flour
-1 sachet instant dried yeast
-Pinch of salt
-3 tbsp. olive oil
-2 tbsp. plain natural yogurt
-260 ml / 1/5 cups warm water
For the filling:
-200 g baby spinach leaves
-1 onion, finely chopped
-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
-230 g feta cheese
-1 tbsp. olive oil
-Combine about 150 ml warm water, the yeast, and salt in a small bowl, stir and cover. Stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface.
-Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast, water & salt mixture, olive oil, yogurt, and the remaining warm water (about 110 ml).
-Using your hand, draw in the flour from the sides and work the mixture into a dough. Knead thoroughly to form a soft dough. Divide the dough into 5 pieces, knead them, and roll into balls. Place the balls on a floured surface, cover with a damp cloth, and leave them to rest for about 30 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
-Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Chop the washed spinach leaves thoroughly. Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil, and red pepper flakes (optional) with your hands for a few minutes. Stir in the feta cheese and combine well.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the balls of the dough with a rolling pin into thin, flat rounds, about 40 cm diameter. Sprinkle a little flour as you roll the dough so that the dough won’t stick. Roll until you achieve a thin flat sheet of dough.
-Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle. Spread about 2½ tablespoon filling into the middle part of this flat sheet. Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered. Press edges together well to seal. Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the dough balls.
-Heat a griddle or a non-stick pan, and brush one side of the gözleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the uncooked side with a little olive oil and then flip it over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
-Brush both cooked sides of gözleme with a little olive oil - this will keep the gözleme moist. Cook the rest of the gözleme the same way.
-You can either roll the gözleme to serve or you can cut in halves or quarters.
PUMPKIN DESSERT (KABAK TATLISI)
1 kg pumpkin (peeled and sliced)
2 cups of granulated sugar
½ cinnamon stick
1 cup of ground walnuts
Kaymak (clotted cream)
Put the pumpkin slices side by side in a steel pot and cover with the sugar. Place the lid on the pot and let it rest in room temperature at least 4 hours (or overnight if possible) for the pumpkin to release its liquid and melt the sugar. The next day, add the clove and the cinnamon stick and cook the pumpkin on low heat for about 50-55 minutes until it has softened and the syrup is thicker. Place the pumpkin on serving plates, pour the remaining syrup on top, top with a generous serving of kaymak and sprinkle with walnuts.
İZMİR-STYLE ARTICHOKES (ZEYTİNYAĞLI İZMİR USULÜ ENGİNAR)
Half bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Half bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Half bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp. sugar
200 g rice
Rinse the rice and prepare the mixture of the chopped parsley, dill, mint, and green onions with the salt, lemon juice, and olive oil. Peel the artichokes, add the rice and herb mixture on top, and arrange in a pot. Fill the pot halfway up with water. Add the salt and cover with moistened wax paper. Cover the pot tightly with a lid and cook for about 1 hour. When cold, sprinkle with chopped dill and drizzle with olive oil before serving.
STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES WITH GROUND MEAT (ETLİ YAPRAK SARMA)
Sarma refers to a dish that can be prepared with grape, cabbage, or chard leaves. The term sarma derives from Turkish verb "sarmak," which means to wrap or to roll. It can be prepared with rice and spices (vegetarian), or with rice and ground meat. Both are delicious. Sometimes sarma is called dolma, too, yet on the western part of Türkiye, rolled leaves are always called sarma.
(Makes 50-60 stuffed grape leaves)
1/2 lb ground meat
1/3 cup white rice
2 medium size onions, grated or chopped finely in a processor
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup dill
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. olive oil or 1.5 tbsp. olive oil + 2 tbsp. butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
-If you have fresh grape leaves, boil water in a pot. Cook the grape leaves for about 1 minute in boiling water. Take out and let cool.
-If you are using jarred grape leaves, soak them in cold water for an hour as they tend to be salty.
-Place the ground meat, rice, onion, black pepper, salt, parsley, dill, and 1.5 tbsp. olive oil in a bowl.
-Dissolve 1 tbsp. tomato paste with 3 tbsp. hot water and pour this into the bowl.
-Mix all the ingredients.
-Save the broken, faulty leaves. Use them to cover the bottom of a pot with grape leaves to prevent the stuffed ones from burning.
-Take a leaf. Place it on a smooth surface the vein side up/shiny side down. Place a spoonful of the stuffing at the bottom center of the leaf, close to the stem. Fold in two sides first and then the bottom. Then roll it neatly like a cigar. Keep rolling until all the leaves are finished. If you still have stuffing, you can use it to stuff small bell peppers.
-Stack stuffed grape leaves in the pot tightly layer by layer.
-Add 1.5 tbsp. olive oil or butter, the juice of half lemon, and water to barely cover the sarmas.
-Place a flat plate on top of the stuffed grape leaves so that they won't move while cooking. Cover and cook on low heat for 35-45 minutes.
-Serve with crusty bread and yogurt.
STUFFED EGGPLANTS WITH GROUND LAMB, TOMATOES, AND ONIONS (KARNIYARIK)
3 dark purple eggplants (small to medium variety if possible)
340 g ground lean lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 g chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup water
1 bunch or 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 tbsp. olive oil (or vegetable oil) for shallow frying
6 thin slices of tomato and green bell peppers, seeded – for decorative topping
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 180 °C.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthways leaving the stalk intact. In each half of eggplant, cut a deep split lengthways without cutting through to the skin on the opposite side and leaving 13 mm uncut at either end. Sprinkle salt over the flesh side of the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants.
In a little of the olive oil, sauté the onions until soft. Add the ground lamb and cook until all the moisture is absorbed. Add the garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix well. Continue cooking for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the chopped parsley. Seasoning is important, so please check the seasoning of the mixture and add more salt or pepper according to taste.
Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly. Lightly brown them evenly on both sides in the olive oil (or vegetable oil). With the split sides facing up, place them into a well-oiled ovenproof dish or a baking tray. Spoon the filling into the splits. On the top of each filled eggplant put a slice of tomato and a green bell pepper. Mix the water with a drizzle of olive oil. Pour this mixture on the baking tray. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until they are tender, and the eggplants are nicely browned on top.
Serve hot with plain rice and a dollop of plain yogurt by the side.
SPICY BULGUR WHEAT SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE MOLASSES (KISIR)
Note: There are two main varieties of bulgur wheat available: fine and coarse bulgur. Fine bulgur is traditionally used in salads like kısır whereas coarse bulgur is used in pilafs. If you can’t get the fine bulgur wheat, you can also make this salad with coarse bulgur, widely available in supermarkets. In that case, use 240 ml hot water for 175 g coarse bulgur and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, covered.
350 g fine bulgur wheat
240 ml hot water
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. red pepper paste (optional)
1 tsp. paprika, chili flakes, or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. concentrated sour pomegranate molasses (nar ekşisi)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Small bunch of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pomegranate seeds to serve (optional)
Lettuce leaves to serve
Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste, and the chopped onion, and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.
Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.
Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with pomegranate seeds (if preferred) and lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take a spoonful of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.