İzmir Köfte (meatfree)


This is a success story! Having just finished a plate full of this lovely dish, I am contemplating another one. And yet, it is meat free! Eureka! My recipe, my technique, I did it and am very proud of myself too. Since I became semi-vegetarian (no meat. just a bit of fish from time to time) a couple of years ago, this dish particularly was in my head. Soya mince or quorn mince are not necessarily better than meat, but as it is proven here, are good substitutes.

I think the combination of the spices is the secret.. Oh, and the well-known juice you get at the end which is unmissable.  (You can clean up this juice with some bread left in your plate afterwards!)

Now here we go:

Serves 4 – 6

250 grams of soya mince
3 -4 tomatoes (cut into eighths)
1 big or 2 medium size bell peppers (remove the seeds then chop them into long slices)
2 – 3 medium size potatoes (cut into eighths or more)
1 onion (grated nicely in a bowl)
1 egg
handful of parsley (chopped)
breadcrumbs (as much as the kofte dough needs)
two or three spoonfuls of tomato or pepper paste
black pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, curry powder, salt, thyme

1. Slice the potatoes and keep them in a bowl full of water (this keeps the potatoes from going brown)
2. Take a medium sized salad bowl, put the soya mince, egg, chopped parsley, grated onion and spices, stir them and add the breadcrumbs until it makes a nice dough. Here. it is up to you, if it is too dry, wet it with a few spoons of water, if too soft then add more breadcrumbs.  You have to decide, I am afraid!
3. Heat the oven to 200ºC.
4. Make kofte balls from your dough, there should be approximately 15 pieces. I usually take a piece of dough, roll it in my palm, then press on it slightly.
5. Brush an oven dish (like a tray or glass casserole dish around 2 inches deep) with oil then place the potatoes, tomatoes, kofte balls and peppers onto it.
6. Dissolve the tomato or pepper paste in three glasses of water then pour over the oven dish. Drizzle with oil.
7. Cook in the oven till the sauce starts boiling then bring the oven down to 180º C or so.
8. Cook a little bit more, then your Izmir Kofte is ready, enjoy!


Red lentil soup

lentil soup

Irresistible, indispensable, irrevocable.. Red lentil it is.. Previously you might have seen another recipe with them. Actually I think I love green lentils too! But red lentil soup is definitely a classic; winter, summer, morning, dinner, anytime..  There aree  many ways of cooking this soup but try this one and let me know if you like it or not!

Serves 4 – 6

What to buy?

1 glass of red lentil (Washed and soaked half an hour in hot water)
1 onion
1 potato
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
tomato or pepper paste (preferably spicy)
olive oil
half a teaspoonful of turmeric (optional not in the classic recipe)
1 teaspoonful of red pepper flakes or paprika (optional for people who does not like spice)
black pepper
lemon juice
fresh parsley or mint (you can use dry mint as well, gives a nice taste)

1. Chop the onions, garlic cloves, grate the potato and the carrot, sautee for 5 minutes with a little bit of water or oil. (Water is good, you add your oil at anytime, but it is not good to burn olive oil!)

2.Add one spoonful of pepper or tomato paste in the pan, stir well.

3. Heat 5 – 6 glasses of water, add the lentils then pour the hot water slowly then mix nicely.

4. Bring it up to boil then simmer it down and collect the bubbly layer at the top of your soup. This is completely unnecessary, happens usually if you do not soak the lentils in hot water enough, and causes flatulence.

5. In my iron casserole, it takes not more than 15 minutes to cook but with other pans I would say give it a good 25 – 30 minutes to cook. Whilst simmering, do not forget to check, if the vegetables and the lentils are soft enough use your hand blender to perfect it!

6. Simmer a little bit more, chop some parsley or mint add it, then your soup is ready to serve! (with a big slice of lemon next to it!)

Tabbouleh – KISIR

bulgur wheat

“If you were leaving for a desert island which three mezes would you take along with you?” The reporter asks. Lebanese cook does not hesitate: “Tabbouleh, tabbouleh and tabbouleh.”

This was on BBC radio the other day while I was about to start making tabbouleh or Kısır as it is said in Turkish. And I do believe that it is one of the easiest and tastiest meze i ever had. Also very healthy as it is cooked with bulgar wheat.

It is one of the dishes my mom used to do for tea when her friends were coming over. In Lebanon, they like it is more like parsley salad. which I quite like as well. Ok, let’s begin then!

What do I need to buy?

  • 1 Cup Bulgur Wheat (fine grained you can find two types of bulgur wheat either fine or for rice)
  • 1/2 Cup olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup lemon juice
  • 2 – 3 tsbp of tomato and pepper paste
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch flat parsley
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 5 -6 spring onions
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes finely chopped (optionally peeled)
  • pomegranate sauce (optional and could be found in middle eastern shops)

How do I cook it then?

  1. Cover the wheat in boiling water and let stand for five minutes it will absorb all the water
  2. mix lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper then add half of it over the wheat.
  3. Chop the spring onions, parsley, mint, tomatoes and cucumber.
  4. Mix all the vegetables with bulgur wheat while stirring add the rest of the oil- lemon juice mixture.
  5. If you can find some pomegranate sauce this is the time to add it. It has a sour taste so It is important not to add a lot if you put lemon juice already.
  6. Refrigerate few hours but you can have it without refrigerating.
  7. Tabbouleh is ready, you can have it with some iceberg lettuce a well, enjoy!