Saturday, 20 July 2013

Slap Some Yogurt On That!


Got a funny tummy? Have some yogurt!
Trouble sleeping? Drink some yogurt!
Burnt your hand? Slap some yogurt on it!


source: Green Prophet

These are genuine responses I've received from my husband. They reveal the vast extent of the Turkish obsession with yogurt, a substance which is usually sold in huge tubs, much like the emulsion paint sold at B&Q! My husband even puts it on tortellini, essentially committing an act of culinary treason in Italy! 

Having observed that Turks add yogurt to practically everything, I took this to heart and on one occasion I spooned a huge dollop of yogurt over some fried fish. As I watched my husband wince, I realized this was one experiment too far and a definite no-no. Well, at least if there's a Turk in the room!

Yogurt has a pivotal role in my household during Ramadan. Heavy dishes are pushed aside in favour of lighter meals and so yogurt replaces heavy cream or cheese sauces. I also use it as the basis of a healthy dip for vegetables and bread. Then, a few hours later, yogurt comes out of the fridge for suhoor and is paired with muesli and fruit. 

Often the most beloved Turkish recipes are incredibly simple and nutritious
Whether it’s morning or evening, Summer or Winter, there’s a Turkish yogurt recipe which will rise to the occasion. 

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Source: Almost Turkish

For breakfast or when you fancy a light meal, there’s Çılbır (for English speakers this is pronounced as Jill-beer), a dish of poached eggs in yoghurt served with a pinch of pepper. This dish goes all the way back to an ottoman Sultan’s dinner table back in the 15th century.  In fact many of the typical dishes attributed to the Ottoman sultans are typified by their simplicity, such as the similarly egg based menemen. Cilbir and menemen are also perfect for a healthy suhoor as they are full of protein and the yogurt helps to settle the stomach




A popular and refreshing recipe for the Summer is Cacik – a cold appetizer which acts as a dipping sauce for virtually all Turkish dishes. Cacık (above) is made of yogurt, olive oil, crushed garlic, grated cucumber, salt, dill, and dried mint (because it has a more potent flavour). I should mention at this point that when it comes to Turkish recipes, you’ll need to make peace with garlic. Not only cooked garlic, but raw garlic! I do worry sometimes that people who hug me must have the sensation of hugging a human-sized garlic bulb! 

Speaking of garlic issues, I remember an episode in Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul, where one of the characters bemoans the fact that she’s been given a dish of garlic-laden Manti before going to meet a prospective husband. Manti is essentially the Turkish equivalent of ravioli and so perhaps this is where my husband’s habit of smothering pasta with yogurt comes from. 




Another popular Turkish dish is yogurt soup, Yayla Corbasi. In the UK it’s unusual to find yoghurt taking centre stage in a meal, and even less common in a soup, so you many of you might find this a bit odd. The yogurt in Yayla Corbasi is watered down and so it also contains rice which fills you up while a pinch of red chilli flakes livens up the flavour.

I’d call Yayla Corbasi an acquired taste. Mainly because it takes time for an English brain to figure out what's going on, perhaps because we're so used to sweet yogurt. I attempted to prepare some for my family back in the UK but I managed to curdle it before it arrived to the table! Being completely unaware of what I'd done, I served it to my parents anyway. I don't think my father has forgiven me yet for the abomination I served him! 






And now, what do you drink with all of these yogurt based dishes? More yogurt! 

Ayran, is a watered down yogurt drink which accompanies meals and often has an attractive frothy head on top. In many regions, this drink is offered to guests as soon as they set foot in the door. Even international fast-food companies, such as McDonald's and Burger King, include ayran on their Turkish menus. Here, expat Earth Laughs in Flowers makes the case that Ayran should be Turkey's National Drink

Although Ayran is intended as a refreshing way of neutralizing the spiciness of food, I couldn't get over the saltiness. If you've ever had a savoury lassi though, you’ll have an idea of what it tastes like and it might be something you'd like. For me though, my heart belongs to sweet mango lassi




One thing you may have noticed by scrolling down this article is that Turkish recipes tend to be rather sloppy. Thankfully, these mushy dishes are a perfect match for the other Turkish obsession: Bread! Sometimes I wonder whether Turkish dishes, delicious as they may be, were created solely for the purpose of being vehicles to showcase bread's ability to mop it all up! 


So, over to you! 
What are the food obsessions in your culture/household? 
How has your diet changed during Ramadan?



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Links of the day: 

I'm very grateful to Almost Turkish for allowing me to use her recipes and photos. Her blog includes many mouth watering Turkish recipes with easy-to-follow instructions, backstories and gorgeous photos which will get your mouth salivating (perhaps having a peep after iftar would be best though!) 

The refreshing Cacik and Ayran recipes came via Ozlem's Turkish Table, a wonderful blog which gives insights into real life in Turkey, including food, culture, and architecture both in the city and in rural areas. 

The Mango Lassi recipe comes from a lovely Sheffield based blogger FoodyMama who you can also find on twitter.


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If you have any delicious recipes or food related blogs which you've been using this Ramadan or during the Summer heatwave, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I'll share them.


Previous Post: Fasting Can Bring Us Closer Together
Turkish Post: How Often Do You Speak Turkish Without Realizing It? 



20 comments:

  1. Merhaba! Türk yemekleri, ayran, çılbır, cacık, harika! :)

    Hayırlı ramazanlar. Türkiye'den selamlar! :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Merhaba! Teşekkür ederim! Ben daha fazla Türk anlamak istiyorum : ) ama simdi, kocam bütün gün İngilizce konuşuyor : s Ramazan mubarak!

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    2. O halde Türkçe öğrenmek için bloğuma bekliyorum sizi. ;)

      Allah'a emanet olunuz. :)

      saadetvednyas.blogspot.com

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    3. doğru : ) Şimdi gideceğim!

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  2. Loved the article ! It's witty and informative . I really like your style of writing

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, that's very kind. All the best with your new blog!

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  3. Yoghurt with fish?!!! Oh my, did the world end? lol - I remember being told that if I had cacik or ayran with fish then it would poison my stomach! - And now, a confession....the one time I did indeed mix the two together,I did get an upset stomach - perhaps more auto suggestion than fact?

    Really enjoyed this article :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Kym! I'm sure my iffy feeling after eating it was all in the mind but I've been too wary to try it again!

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  4. Love it, keep it coming! Yogurt really works on sunburn though. You need the thick stuff or it all slides off, ha ha. Leave for a an hour and rinse in cool water, so Can is right.

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    1. I'll tell Can and I'm sure he'll be very smug : ) Actually I wasn't feeling too well last night and he wouldn't go to bed until I'd had a pot of yogurt! I humoured him but I feel much better now.

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  5. Yeah I slapped some on my friends thighs once when she spilled a hot cup of tea on her lap!! Really helped :-)

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    1. haha! Just the way you expressed that made me chuckle! But ouch!

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  6. Very interesting and informative. thanks Sara.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it! Let me know if you make any of these recipes and how they turn out!

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  7. That's really a nice article, I love drinking ayran and yayla soup is sooooooo great and tastes good!

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    1. I've heard that lots of people have yayla when they are sick, the equivalent of having chicken soup. I'd like to try it again now that I've got used to the idea : )

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  8. Thanks for the enjoyable article...*goes to look at Turkish recipes*

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  9. I think i must have been Turkish in another life given my OBSESSION with bulgur yogurt (from yogurt soup to kefir to putting a dollop of plain yogurt on anything...)

    I'm of part Middle Eastern descent so maybe that explains it.... :)

    Y'know, those who love yogurt are a very cultured people (I could not resist it...sorry! ;) )

    Silvia

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    Replies
    1. haha Silvia! I'm glad you gave in to the pun! I thoroughly enjoyed it : )

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