I once read in a cookbook that the variety found in the Turkish cuisine is only topped by the variety in the Chinese cuisine. I was really surprised to learn that because despite the huge number of Turkish restaurants in Germany, I only knew döner (flatbread filled with meat and tzatziki), lahmacun (Turkish pizza), börek (pastry filled with spinach or ground meat) and some other things like tzatziki, peppers stuffed with cream cheese and so on. Which all taste great but as all the Turkish takeaways around here serve more or less the same things, I had never spent a thought on all the other delightful possibilities offered by the Turkish cuisine.
My knowledge on this subject increased after I took more interest in cooking in general and especially after eating in a real Turkish restaurant, not just a takeaway, while living in London. We ordered a plate for two full of countless little things, meze, and it was just amazing, a revelation. I have to say that afterward I have never managed to enjoy the usual döner or lahmacun the way I did before, it does always taste good, but lefts me wishing I could just have the other things instead.
So in order to have some of the other things, I do cook Turkish at home quite often. In time, I discovered that Romanian cuisine is very much influenced by the Turkish one, and that is no wonder considering that parts of the present Romanian territories were under the Ottoman hegemony for many centuries. There are many Romanian dishes which are very similar to the Turkish ones and many dishes or food names are obviously coming to us, Romanians, from Turkish.
If you are interested in the Turkish cuisine, you might want to take a look at these blogs, I always do.
My Turkish Kitchen (unfortunately rarely updated, but the recipes there are great)
And in the meantime, you might want to try these wonderful, aromatic Turkish meat rolls, smothered in a refreshing yogurt and mint sauce and eaten with a fresh vegetable salad or pickles and flatbread.
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 500 g/ 1.1 pounds ground beef
- 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 500 g/ 1.1 pounds full-fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 small bunch mint
- 3 scallions
- Chop the onion and the garlic cloves very finely. Mix them together with the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, mustard and ground cumin and paprika. Add salt and pepper. Form about 14-16 little rolls.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the meat rolls all around, turning them repeatedly during this process, so that they get brown on all sides and are cooked through. It took me about 7 to 8 minutes to have one batch ready. I fried all the meat rolls in 2 batches and kept the first ones warm in the oven, at about 100 degrees Celsius/ 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove all the meat rolls from the pan and keep them warm.
- Stir together the yogurt and the cornstarch. Finely chop the mint leaves. Give the yogurt mixture and the mint to the pan and heat gently. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the meat rolls with the sauce, sprinkled with the chopped scallions and more paprika. Serve with a fresh vegetable salad including onions, tomatoes, cucumber and peppers and flatbread. Instead of salad you can have pickles.