10 essential items for your Turkish kitchen

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10 essential items for your Turkish kitchen

Post  Mavi on Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:01 am

10 essential items for your Turkish kitchen

A Turkish kitchen has many of the same items that sit on the benches and in the cupboards of kitchens around the world: pots and pans, knives and chopping boards, baking trays, tea and coffee-making equipment. What makes these items different in a Turkish kitchen may be their shape, the material they are made from or simply the way an item is used. Some things just cook and taste better when using traditional Turkish cooking equipment.

Saç: Gözleme is a simple, easy incredibly snack to prepare and infinitely more satisfying to make on a saç, the rounded griddles that come in a range of sizes. The women who sit in touristy shop windows deftly rolling out almost paper-thin, unbelievably large pieces of dough (yufka), sprinkle a filling of perhaps cheese and parsley, minced meat or spiced potato and slap them of the largest of the saçs. Smaller versions, from 20 centimeters in diameter, are easier to manage in a home kitchen. Complete kits are available in varying sizes with a gas inlet attached. Otherwise, roughly prepared single griddles that double as a convex wok-style pan (referred to as both tava and saç) are an option. These pans need to be well cleaned, and heated until they change color before using, then thoroughly dried after washing. These larger pieces of cooking equipment, such as griddles, are all found beyond the end of Hasırcırcılar Street on Sobacılar (stove makers) Street, near the main road along the Golden Horn across from the İstanbul Commerce University in Eminönü, or from local markets.

Oklava: Perhaps you are thinking of trying your hand at making the yufka for gözleme; the deliciously light cheese pastry made in a large pie dish (su böreği); or baklava from scratch. You will need a long, thin rolling pin (oklava) for the dough, a board to roll the pastry and a saç for lightly cooking the pastry before the final product is assembled in a tray and baked. Oklava of varying lengths can be bought from the same streets as your saç, although the round wooden rolling surface can be substituted for any large surface in your kitchen and trays similar to the traditional börek trays will work equally well. The larger the oklava the easier to work, so opt for one that is at least 60 centimeters long.

Sahan: Menemen, the classic breakfast dish that is also okay any time of the day, is cooked in a small, shallow pan called a sahan. The eggs are slightly undercooked as they leave the hotplate and presented to the diner in the sahan, where their slightly translucent whites are mopped up with copious amounts of bread. For a more traditional-looking sahan, opt for one made of tin-lined copper (as is the case for any copper objects you intend to use) with ornamental handles. Otherwise, you will find a range of conventional pans with or without lids.

Copper pots and pans: In the same style as the brass sahan are different-sized, shallow frying pans with long, roughly decorated handles. The smallest of these is classically used for melting butter for the sauce that finishes an İskender kebab and in any kitchen is a handy little item. The trick when buying these pans is to check that the weight of the handle is in proportion to the base. There is nothing worse that setting a carefully prepared dish that you intend to present in the pan on the hotplate to find it tip all over the stove.
Larger, deep, copper pans, all completely tinned, are used in many a traditional restaurant across Turkey. Chefs testify to the superior flavor and texture of pilafs cooked in a copper pan, along with the multitude of stewed and braised dishes found in Turkish cuisine. These attractive and individual pots can be transferred from stovetop to oven and then to the table, so are incredibly versatile and worth the investment.

Copper bowls: Another interesting and unique addition to your Turkish kitchen are the small silver-looking bowls, some with ornamental handles, used for supping the savory drink made from yogurt and water (ayran) in southeastern Turkey. They can stand in as a sherbet bowl for your Ottoman-themed dinners or serve as attractive soup bowl holders in winter. Usually accompanied by small silver ladles, they are difficult to find in stores outside the region but can be found in markets, especially those set up for special occasions.

Şiş skewers:The şiş and the döner kebab are two international Turkish food icons. Restaurants around the world proudly display their numerous varieties of kebabs on neatly arranged skewers to tempt diners. A large charcoal grill is beyond the limits of most home kitchens, but a barbecue or large griddle will produce good results. For a real taste of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire before it, look for skewers with figures of the famous shadow puppets, Karagöz and Hacivat, or other Ottoman and Turkish symbols.

Turkish coffee set: Coffeepots (cezve) of varying sizes, their newly beaten copper shining brightly, hang from above in temptation at many market stalls, especially in the streets around the Spice Bazaar. Buy according to the number of cups you usually make or a little larger for the unexpected guest. There are numerous coffee cups sets to accompany your cezve, from the stylish bowl-style cups without handles to those looking more like espresso cups. Look around for ones that suit your style and budget.

Turkish tea glasses and double teapot: For tea drinkers, a double teapot (çaydanlık) is a must. Choose one that will be large enough to boil water for your usual number of cups. Look at the bottom pot for this as the water is boiled here, transferred into the top pot that contains the tea and after steeping, poured into individual glasses. For weak tea, less from the top and more from the bottom and vice versa for a strong tannic brew.

Wooden spoons: Now what about those smaller accessories? Wooden spoons in an impressive range of sizes can also be found in most markets across Turkey as well as small shops around the Spice Bazaar. On a sunny, hot day in the regional centers, men and women whittle the time away as they fashion a spoon. The tiniest -- teaspoon-sized -- to the largest -- 60-70-centimeter-long ladles -- are made from a range of woods. Some are so big they are better suited to accessorizing a table than stirring a stew, but many are characteristically hand-carved.

Porcelain: If stepping back into the past with older, Ottoman-flavored menus is your plan, then try out some of the glassware and porcelain based on that used in the Topkapı and Dolmabahçe palaces. Designs from the latter period are mostly European influenced and you might just find similar patterns in your family heirloom, but a jug and dishes for Noah's pudding (aşure) from the 19th century might be harder to find. Glasses for tea, rakı or sherbet with designs inspired by the past will add an elegant touch to your table. To find these items you will need to step away from the hustle and bustle of Eminönü and visit one of the many shops and outlets that specialize in recreating these touches of the past.

Some quick recipes

Gözleme (Makes two)
Ingredients: Two sheets pre-prepared yufka, 80 grams strong-flavored, crumbly white cheese, One-quarter bunch parsley, chopped, 50 grams butter, melted
Method: 1. Lay yufka flat on board or table. 2. Sprinkle cheese then parsley across a 15 by 15 centimeter-square. 3. Fold yufka over itself, sealing the filling in between at least two layers, with a pastry brush moistened with water. 4. Heat saç and place pastry over middle, moving from time to time to ensure base is completely cooked. 5. Turn over and cook as above. 6. Remove from heat, brush with butter and serve warm.

Simple menemen (Serves one)

Ingredients: One tbsp (15 grams) butter, One medium (150-gram) tomato, deseeded and chopped, Salt, Freshly cracked black pepper, Two eggs, beaten lightly, Two to three stems parsley leaves, chopped Method: 1. Heat butter in sahan and gently cook tomatoes until the moisture is evaporated and the mixture quite dry. 2. Season with salt and pepper, add eggs and leave over heat until almost cooked. 3. Remove, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Chicken and bay leaf şiş (Serves two)

Ingredients: Two medium (300-gram) chicken breast fillets, chopped into 2-3 centimeter pieces, Two cloves garlic, crushed, Two tbsp (30 milliliters) olive oil, Two tbsp (30 milliliters) onion juice, extracted from one small (100-gram) onion, grated, 12-15 bay leaves Method: 1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl or plastic bag, massage together and allow to marinate for one to two hours. 2. Remove and thread chicken pieces and bay leaves on şiş. 3. Cook on pre-heated, oiled griddle or charcoal grill for several minutes on each side and serve.

Chemistry from the kitchen

Why is lining copper pots necessary? The reason why copper-based pots are great in cooking is that they conduct heat fantastically. Foods cook quickly and evenly. Copper, however, reacts with the oxygen in the air and an oxide coating builds up on its surface. This oxide coating is porous and copper ions are easily transferred into foods that come into contact with the surface. Our bodies are not very good at dealing with and excreting copper ions and an excess from prolonged exposure can cause abdominal discomfort and liver failure. Traditionally copper utensils are lined with tin and nowadays also with stainless steel. Tin-lined copper pots are common in Turkish cooking, yet must still be used with a little caution. Tin has a low melting point --- 450 degrees Fahrenheit/230 degrees Celsius --- and thus in some cooking methods that use such high temperatures it may melt. Tin is a soft metal that lends itself to wear and tear, so checking the tin on your copper utensils is important and getting them re-tinned is essential.

Where to buy?

Ünal Züccaciye San. Tic. Ltd. Şti.
Tahmis Sokak No. 68 Eminönü (just outside the Spice Bazaar) Tel.: (212) 511 2551 Web: www.unalcam.com The Web site lists the range of traditional-style glass containers, but the shop contains just about any kitchen item available.
Nalburlar/ Sobacılar Sokak No. 11 Eminönü Tel.: (212) 522 3134 For a range of griddles and pastry trays.
TBMM Milli Saraylar Depo-Müze
Located in the old Dolmabahçe kitchens Beşiktaş Tel.: (212) 227 6671Web: www.millisaraylar.gov.tr
This museum of items, many from the Dolmabahçe Palace kitchen, also sells reproduction pieces. The museum costs YTL 2 to enter and is closed on Mondays.
Paşabahçe has many stores and the "Butik" section houses the range of traditional Ottoman-inspired pieces.
Kutahya Porselen
www.kutahyaporselen.com.tr For a range of traditional style coffee cups, pitchers and service plates.

article taken from Todays Zaman

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