Four weeks ago today we were cruising the Bosphorus River, listening to the historical commentary about Turkey and how this river has influenced its shores. As I sit here reminiscing of our trip, it feels as though it was eons ago. All the planning, research, initial deposit to final payment, and the excitement leading up to the final week is but a mere memory. Our trip, though, has left us with new experiences, new friends, and lots of new memories. When we’re in a new country, top attractions are on our hit list but so is food. Our first country was Turkey where we stayed in Istanbul. We had our top 10 list of things to do while there plus I had a list of food to try. Turkish food is a cornucopia of flavors; Asian, Mediterranean, Balkan and Middle Eastern cuisines all help to infuse the Ottoman cuisine. Most familiar of the Turkish cuisine is Turkish delight, baklava, pide, meze, dolma, kebab, pilav, stew, Turkish coffee but we ventured out of what was familiar sounding to us.
Mr. S and I made a conscious effort of not being in the tourist spots when we ate so we could get a ‘feel’ for what was local and not influenced for western palates. Sometimes communicating in English was challenging when off the beaten path but that didn’t prevent us for ordering. Often we would point to the food or went by pictures on the menu. This approach worked for us in the past and didn’t fail us this time either. We had fun and enjoyed our food. I recently discovered what the name of some of the food we ate: manti, imam bayildi, iskender kebab. If you ever get a chance to try these, please do, they’re absolutely scrumptious!
The following recipe is slightly adapted from Turkish Airlines Skylife magazine and was the first thing I cooked when we arrived back home. Olives and its oil are key to Turkish cuisine and culture. With one and a half million olive farmers, Turkey is the fifth largest producer in the world.
chicken pieces (drumstick, thighs etc)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon, cut in 6 wedges
2 bay leaves
cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half or left whole if small
handful of green olives, pit removed
juice of a lemon
½ cup olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
In a large bowl, stir to combine cumin, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, parsley, turmeric, lemon juice, bay leaf, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Let rest for half an hour.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Serve this with bulgur mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!
- chicken pieces (drumstick, thighs etc)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, cut in 6 wedges
- 2 bay leaves
- cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half or left whole if small
- handful of green olives, pit removed
- juice of a lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
- In a large bowl, stir to combine cumin, red pepper flakes, ginger, garlic, parsley, turmeric, lemon juice, bay leaf, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Let rest for half an hour.
- Preheat oven to 325f. Empty the chicken into a large casserole dish and add the remaining ingredients.
- Roast, uncovered, for about an hour. During the last 10 minutes, increase heat to 350f. You may need to cook the chicken 10 minutes longer than one hour to achieve a golden brown color.