Lockdown Lunch: Get Stuffed!

23 April 2020

Nearing four weeks of lockdown in Almaty and supplies are holding up surprisingly well, especially now that spring greens are beginning to come on tap. This week our local veg shop had rocket, celery and sorrel – all the makings of a peppery green salad to perk up the lunch menu.

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Spring greens coming on tap in Almaty

We’re coming to the end of our super-sized cabbage, which was bought in the early days of lockdown, so we decided to use the remaining leaves to make cabbage rolls, a popular dish in eastern and southern Europe.

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KCC’s Stuffed Cabbage Leaf

We stuffed the leaves with some rip-red risotto, a recipe we made a few years back that combines coarse bulgur wheat with beetroot and walnuts (if you want a gluten-free option, you can use arborio rice or pearl barley instead).

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Simmer the stuffed cabbage parcels in a tomato and herb sauce for thirty minutes for a winning lockdown lunch. It makes for a tasty veggie take on that beloved Ukrainian / Russian dish, golubtsi, or ‘little doves’, or dolma as they are dubbed in some parts of the Mediterranean and into the Caucasus.

Ingredients (serves 3-4 people)

  • Four large cabbage leaves or eight smaller ones
  • (See here for the stuffing: rip-red risotto)

For the tomato sauce:

  • Three medium tomatoes
  • Three spring onions
  • Three sprigs of parsley
  • One stick of celery
  • One tablespoon tomato paste
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • two or three basil leaves
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 100 ml water

Method

  1. Separate the leaves carefully from the cabbage. Place in boiling water for five minutes to soften. Put the leaves in cold water and then drain. Cut out the tough, lower bit of the stalk (about 2-3 cm). Place a tablespoon of filling above the cut and then fold and roll the leaves into cigar shapes.
  2. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop, add the chopped spring onions, celery and parsley. Cook for five minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and water , stir well and bring to the boil.
  3. Lay the stuffed leaves in an ovenproof baking dish and pour the hot tomato sauce over them. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake at 200 c for thirty minutes. Sprinkle the cooked cabbage leaves with basil leaves before serving with a green salad.

Lockdown Lunch: Kicking off with Kısır

9 April 2020

We’re heading towards the end of the second week of serious lockdown here in Almaty.  Our local shops remain well-stocked with basics (we’re not supposed to go further than 500 metres form home) and the greengrocer’s reopened after closing for a week, so fresh vegetables are readily available.

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Basic kısır with radish

For this week’s Lockdown Lunch we’re making kısır, Turkey’s bulgur wheat salad answer to the Middle East’s tabbouleh salad. Kısır is one of those dishes that everyone has their own recipe for, but the basic ingredients are fine bulgur wheat, onion, chilli pepper, tomato paste, olive oil, lemon juice parsley and pomegranate sauce.

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Kısır with olives and tomatoes

We’ve added some radishes, tomatoes, spring onion and black olives to the standard package above that can be eaten as a main meal (you might want to add some nuts or beans for a protein punch) or as a side salad. If you are on a gluten-free diet, then you can use millet in place of bulgur wheat.

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A fresh kick for your kısır

Kısır is easy to prepare and it benefits from sitting in the fridge overnight – leaving more time for all those Zoom parties and, of course, the Tajik football season, which kicked off last weekend.

Ingredients (for 3-4 servings)

  • 100g fine bulgur wheat
  • 200 ml vegetable stock or water
  • One medium onion
  • One medium tomato
  • One spring onion
  • One garlic clove
  • Ten black olives
  • Two tablespoons tomato paste
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • One lemon
  • 25 ml pomegranate sauce
  • Few sprigs of parsley
  • One teaspoon chilli pepper flakes
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon sumac

Method

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds and fry until they start to sizzle. Add the finely chopped onion and mashed garlic and cook for a few minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the chilli pepper and sumac and stir.
  • Add the fine bulgur wheat and stir to cover the grains then add the stock or water, Add the tomato paste, pomegranate sauce and the juice of half the lemon. Stir and bring to the boil. When boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave to stand for 30 minutes or so until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  • Fluff up the grains with a fork and add the grated radish, sliced spring onion and chopped parsley. Mix together and put in a salad bowl. Before serving, garnish with lemon and/or tomato slices and black olives.

A Leek-Fuelled Lentil Pilaf

11 April 2019

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’re combining some of our favourite seasonal ingredients to mark the transition from the hearty stews and soups of winter to some lighter, spring eating.

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We’ve paired leeks, the mild-tasting cousin of the onion, with green lentils, coarse bulgur wheat and some spices to make a scrumptious pilaf that’s both cheap and easy to prepare.

Using bulgur wheat in the place of rice means that it can be on the table in less than an hour, which also allows enough time to roast some of our winter faves, pumpkin and beetroot, to add a splash of colour to the plate. Keep any leftovers in the fridge – they can be moulded into patties and fried in oil or baked in the oven to make a tasty brunch or supper.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 50 ml olive oil
  • One leek
  • 250g pumpkin
  • 250g beetroot
  • 125g bulgur wheat (coarse not fine)
  • 125g green lentils
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Two teaspoons cumin seeds
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One teaspoon chilli powder
  • One bayleaf

Method

  • Pour 25 ml olive oil and one teaspoon of cumin seeds into an oven-proof dish and leave in the oven for 10 minutes at 200c. Cube the pumpkin and beetroot and put into the dish and stir well to coat with oil. Bake for 40 minutes at 200c.
  • Heat the other 25 ml of oil in a heavy-based pan, add the cumin seeds and then add the diced leek and sauté over a low to medium heat for about ten minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, chilli powder and bayleaf and stir well.
  • Now add the bulgur wheat and lentils and the vegetable stock and mix it all together. Cook for 30 minutes or so over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve with the roasted beetroot and pumpkin.

Couscous on the Loose

6 December 2018

This week we’ll be making our take on couscous, that staple of North African cooking. Our version uses fine bulgur wheat in place of the more usual durum wheat semolina base as bulgur wheat is easier to find on the supermarket shelves where we are based.

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KCC’s couscous with chickpea chutney and roasted vegetables

In our opinion, bulgur works just as well as semolina as a base to soak up the juices from the roasted vegetables and our chickpea chutney. Purists may disagree, but our philosophy is more about adapting recipes by using the ingredients you have at hand.

Ingredients (serves 2)

Roasted vegetables:

  • 300 g pumpkin
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Chickpea chutney:

  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 50 g currants
  • 250 g chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Couscous:

  • 100 g fine bulgur wheat
  • 200 ml vegetable stock

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200c, cut the vegetables into large chunks and put into a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick and stir to coat the vegetable chunks. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the chickpea chutney. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a low heat for five minutes. Add the spices and the chopped tomato and cook for five more minutes. Then add the currants and chickpeas and cook for fifteen minutes or so.

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and then cover the bulgur wheat with it and leave it to soak up the liquid for 30 minutes or so, drain off the excess liquid (if there’s any) and than add a dash of olive oil and fluff up with a fork.

Put a layer of couscous on a warmed plate, arrange the roasted vegetables in a circular, wheel-spoke pattern and put a generous dollop of chickpea chutney in the centre and serve immediately.

Mezemania: Funky Lentil Pâté

26 July 2018

In our ongoing series on mezeler, or starters, we’ve come up with a funky little lentil spread to add to the collection.

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Funky Lentil Pâté

In the past on Knidos Cookery Club we’ve featured the following mezes: two types of fava (Turkish and Greek),  these little numbers (smoky aubergine dip, Psimeni Raki and feta dip and tsatsiki) inspired by the Greek island of Amorgos, fiery red pepper-fuelled muhammara and acili ezme and a creamy almond and courgette dip as part of our esteemed meze collection.

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Amorgoan Delight: smoky aubergine dip, Psimeni Raki and feta dip and tsatsiki

You can serve this simple to prepare red Lentil Pâté alongside these other dishes for a great spread of mezeler for a light feast that’s perfect for sharing with friends  on a balmy summer’s night.

Ingredients (makes around 200g)

125 g red lentils

One bayleaf

300 ml cold water

Two tablespoons fine bulgur wheat

4 or 5 spring onions

10 g fresh parsley

25 ml olive oil

One teaspoon mustard seeds

One teaspoon cumin seeds

Two teaspoons paprika

One teaspoon ground coriander seeds

One teaspoon black pepper

Half a teaspoon turmeric

Method

Clean the lentils in cold water and then put them in a pan with the bayleaf. Pour 300 ml of water over the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are beginning to go mushy and most of the water has been absorbed.

Remove the bayleaf and add the fine bulgur wheat to the lentils and mix well. Leave covered for 30 minutes. heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Fry for a few minutes and then add the paprika, coriander, black pepper and turmeric, cook for a minute stirring constantly and then add the finely chopped spring onion and parsley and cook for five more minutes over a medium heat.

Stir this into the lentil and bulgur mix and leave to stand for a few hours in the fridge. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve with crusty bread.

Hasty Tasty Stuffed Peppers

12 July 2018

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’re taking inspiration again from our recent Balkan odyssey. While on our mission to Albania, we tasted the local take on stuffed peppers and on returning to KCC H.Q. we decided to recreate this delicious dish with a few time saving tricks of our own devising.

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Hasty tasty stuffed peppers with baked cauliflower and tomato

Rice is the usual go-to base for stuffing peppers, but it can be a bit time-consuming to prepare properly. With the World Cup reaching its conclusion, we didn’t fancy spending too much time slaving away in the kitchen so we’ve used some coarse bulgur wheat, which just needs soaking in hot water for a short while before it’s ready to use.

We cooked the peppers alongside some cauliflower, broken up into large  florets, and some quartered tomatoes to make a ready made meal for two with only a green salad needed to complete the show, allowing plenty of time to sit down and enjoy what’s left of the football!

Ingredients (for two people)

Two medium-sized green peppers

Two medium-sized tomatoes

Half a cauliflower

50 g cooked green lentils

50 g coarse bulgur wheat

200 ml hot water

25 ml olive oil

One teaspoon cumin seeds

One teaspoon dried thyme

25 g  raisins or currants

Black pepper (a generous twist)

Method

Cook the green lentils in twice the amount of water (put the lentils in a cup and then measure out twice as much water) until they start to go mushy. Put the bulgur wheat in a bowl and add the lentils and 200 ml hot water, stir and leave until the water is absorbed (20-30 minutes). Add the cumin, thyme, raisins and black pepper to the bulgur wheat and stir in well.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 c and prepare the peppers by slicing the top off and scooping out the seeds. Fill the hollowed-out peppers with the bulgur lentil mix, place the top back on and place in an oven dish. Arrange the cauliflower florets and quartered tomatoes around the pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, add 50 ml water and bake in the oven for      40-50 minutes until the pepper skins start to burn and the florets are turning golden brown. Serve with a green salad.

 

 

 

No Beef with the Beetburger

19 October 2017

The beet is back on Knidos Cookery Club and this time round we’ll be using our burgundy-coloured friend to tap into another zeitgeist treat in the form of the tasty beetburger.

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The stalls in Datça market last Saturday were overflowing with of bunches of beetroots so we picked up a bunch, chopped off the leaves and stems for sautéing, and wrapped the beets in foil and roasted them in the oven for an hour or so.

Beetroot burgers have been a bit of a barbecue craze in the UK over the summer, with supermarkets reporting soaring sales as people turn towards healthier options to meat.

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Turkey’s papatya, or daisy, loaf of bread

We’ve done some experimentation and come up with a patty that will hold together under the grill, on the barbie, in the oven or can be shallow-fried. Stuff it in a bun – we’ve used the papatya loaf as pictured above, and serve with chips and salad for a delicious yet healthy meal (the chips were roasted in the oven, not fried).

Ingredients (makes 6-8 burgers)

100 g red lentils

50 g fine bulgur wheat

150 g roasted beetroot, grated

One medium onion

One garlic clove

50 ml olive oil

Two teaspoons dried thyme

One teaspoon each of sumac, cumin and chilli flakes

Dash of soy sauce

Method

Heat 25 ml of the olive oil in a heavy-based pan, add the herbs and spices and the chopped onion and garlic and fry for five minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the lentils and water, bring to the boil and then simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the bulgur wheat to the mix and allow to cool for 30 minutes – this should thicken the mixture. Then add the grated beetroot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Form into burger shapes (take a dollop of walnut-sized mix and flatten with a spatula and shallow fry in the rest of the olive oil on both sides until going crispy on the outside.

Alternatively, these burgers can be baked in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 200 c or grilled   or cooked on the barbecue until crispy on both sides. Serve in a burger bun with salad and chips.

Operation Lentil

23 February 2017

It was on this day back in 1944  that the Chechen and Ingush  people of the North Caucusus had one of the darkest moments in their troubled history. Accused by the Soviets of siding with the Nazi forces, the entire population was herded onto cattle trucks and deported by force to Central Asia.

The mission was codenamed ‘Operation Lentil’ – after chechevitsa, the Russian word for lentil, which shares its first two syllables with Chechen. By way of commemoration of this tragedy that befell the Chechen and Ingush communities, who refer to the deportations as Aardakh, the exodus, this time around we’ll be sharing a recipe for the Turkish dish mercimek köftesi – a versatile red lentil patty.

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Mercimek köftesi – red lentil patties, served with green salad and cole slaw

These spicy, lentil patties are easy to prepare and are delicious when rolled up in flatbread, like lavash, with fresh cole slaw and a green salad. We used ajika sauce from Georgia on the other side of the Caucasus mountains, a fiery blend of red chili peppers and tomatoes, to flavour the patties – but if you can’t find this locally, then a mix of tomato paste with chili flakes will do nicely.

Ingredients (Makes around 20-24 lentil patties)

100 g red lentils (one cup)

150 g fine bulgur wheat (1.5 cups)

500 ml water

6-8 teaspoons of ajika sauce (see above)

5 spring (green) onions – chopped

A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

One teaspoon of cumin seeds

One teaspoon red chili flakes

Black pepper

25 ml olive oil

Juice of one lemon

Method

Wash the lentils until the water goes clear and then place in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes or so. The lentils should be going mushy and there should be about 1 cm of water covering the lentils – add more water if necessary.

Add the washed bulgur wheat to the cooked lentils and the ajika sauce and blend well. Allow to stand for 30 minutes or so and then add the olive oil, lemon juice, spring onions, parsley, cumin, red chili flakes and black pepper and mix well.

Allow to stand for a few hours to let the flavours combine and then mould a walnut-sized piece of the mix in the palm of your hand and use your fingers to form a  sausage-shape (see picture above).

Serve rolled in flatbread or stuffed into a pita with a cole slaw made from shredded cabbage, grated carrot, pomegranate seeds, spring onion and capers and  a salad of lettuce, sun dried tomatoes, pear and spring onion.

 

 

Riding the Bread Bowl Zeitgeist

3 November 2016

Ok, so we’ve all heard of dunking bread into a wholesome bowl of soup, but, until last week, Knidos Cookery Club had not come across soup being served in a bread bowl. It’s a craze that had seemed to pass us by.

On a chilly night during a recent trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, we found a restaurant that was serving just two dishes – asparagus soup or a thick, meaty broth, both served in a bread bowl. We were instant converts.

20161030_160310A few days after this, a restaurant was spotted in Pendik, a district of Istanbul in Turkey, that had a poster for Ekmekte Çorba, yes, that’s right, soup in a bread bowl. Looks like there could be a craze starting here so let’s chase the zeitgeist and try and recreate this in the Knidos Cookery Club kitchen.

Wondering what to do with all that pumpkin left over from Halloween? Why not turn it into a hearty soup that should pass the bread bowl test – you don’t want your soup to be too liquid as there’s a danger of ending up with a soggy mess of soup and bread. We’ve thickened ours with red lentils and bulgur wheat, so combined with the bread, this one’s going to be a real winter warmer.

Ingredients: (serves 3-4)

four medium-sized round brown loaves

300 g pumpkin (save the seeds for roasting)

50 g red lentils

50 g coarse bulgur wheat

one medium-sized pear

one medium-sized onion

one garlic clove

750 ml vegetable stock

sprinkle of dried sage

one teaspoon of dried thyme

two bay leaves

one teaspoon of cumin seeds

one cinnamon stick

half a teaspoon of turmeric

Method:

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds, retain them to use later. Peel the pumpkin and dice into 1 cm cubes. Place the pumpkin cubes in a baking dish, pour in 50 ml of olive oil and sprinkle the sage and thyme over the pumpkin and mix well.

Bake in a pre-heated oven (220 c /gas mark 7) for 45 minutes or until the pumpkin mashes easily with a fork. While the pumpkin mix is cooking, put the seeds on some tin foil and roast in the oven until starting to char a little bit.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in 50 ml olive oil over a medium heat. As they’re cooking add the cumin seeds, turmeric and cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Cook until the onions are starting to brown.

Chop up the pear finely and add with the roasted, mashed pumpkin to the onion mix and pour the stock over the top. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and add the bulgur wheat and red lentils. Cook over a medium heat for thirty minutes or so until the bulgur and lentils are beginning to go a bit mushy.

Slice the top off the loaf and scoop out the contents, leaving around 1 cm of bread as a lining for the bowl. Pour the soup into the bread bowl, garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds and serve immediately. Use the top of the bread to dip in the soup and eat the bowl as you go, depending on how hungry you are!

 

Roman Lor … and Chips

29 September 2016

This week on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be looking at a recipe that uses up the rest of the lor cheese, Turkey’s answer to ricotta, that we used a few weeks ago in a stuffed aubergine in a spicy tomato sauce dish.

While surfing the net looking for inspiration, Knidos Cookery Club came across the following piece on a dish that is a summertime feature in Rome – baked stuffed tomatoes with potatoes.

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An autumn carbfeast – stuffed tomatoes with potato wedges

To our mind, the double-carbo dose seems more suited to cooler autumn nights than the heat of summer. We’ve put our own spin on the recipe by substituting bulgur wheat for the rice and adding a healthy dollop of lor to the filling.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Four medium-sized tomatoes

One medium-sized onion

Three large potatoes

One garlic clove

100 g bulgur wheat (coarse ground) (use rice if this is not available)

50 g  lor cheese (use ricotta or cottage cheese if this is not available)

50 ml olive oil

200 ml hot water

One teaspoon dried thyme

Pinches of salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Slice the top off the tomatoes and leave to one side. Scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon used in a circular, drilling motion. Put the tomato flesh to one side. Turn the hollowed-out tomatoes upside down on kitchen paper to remove excess moisture.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in 25 ml of olive oil until softening. Add the leftover tomato flesh, half a teaspoon of thyme and some salt and black pepper and stir. Cook for five minutes then add the bulgur wheat, stirring to coat the grains. Pour the hot water over the mixture and cook over a low heat until all the moisture is absorbed.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthways and then cut into wedges about 1 cm in width at their thickest point. Pour 25 ml of olive oil into a baking dish and throw in the potato wedges. Sprinkle thyme over the potatoes and coat them liberally with the olive oil – use your hands or a fork for this.

Allow the bulgur to cool and then stir in the lor cheese. Stuff the tomatoes with the bulgur mix and place the tops back on and arrange on top of the potato wedges. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 c (gas mark 7) for 45 minutes or so until the wedges are golden and the tomatoes are beginning to shrivel and go a bit black on top.

Serve with a green salad to balance out the carbfeast.