Turks have a big diversity of vegetables and of course this reflects on the dishes. One very important detail about vegetable dishes is whether they have meat in them or not. If a dish is cooked without any kind of meat then it is called zeytin yağlı — meaning cooked with olive oil. These kind of vegetable dishes are mostly served cold. Here are three good examples of zeytin yağlı dishes:
Yaprak Sarma — Wrapped vine leaves with a filling of rice, onion and spices like mint, currant, pepper and cinnamon.
Dolma — Vegetables either fresh or dried eggplants, peppers, tomatoes or zucchinis are stuffed with a mixture of rice and onion with various spices.
Taze Fasulye — Green beans cooked with tomato and/or tomato paste and of course onion.
Since Turks love meat very much, almost all the zeytin yağlı dishes are cooked with meat, too. But that’s not it. There are many other delicious meat dishes to discover.
RUSTIC LAMB AND COCONUT CURRY
A fuss free north-Indian inspired curry with succulent lamb pieces and a creamy coconut and spice sauce makes your weeknight smell like an Indian restaurant.
- 500g lamb pieces
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large red onions
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- handful of coriander leaves
- 1 small red chili
- 1 tablespoon ghee/butter
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 (400g) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
Place lamb pieces and potato in a large bowl. Add turmeric and salt. Mix well. Cover and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Place onion, garlic, ginger, coriander leaves and chilli in the jug of a blender with 1 cup of water. Process until smooth. Set aside.
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan or cast iron casserole, heat ghee on high. Add cinnamon, bay leaf, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and black cardamom. Saute for a few seconds. Add the marinated meat and potatoes. Saute for a few minutes, tossing occasionally until meat is sealed on the outside and starting to brown. Add the onion mixture and reduce heat to medium.
Add cumin, garam masala and tomatoes. Season with salt to taste. Cover and simmer on medium for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add coconut milk. Cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice.