Monday, 24 November 2014

Etli Kuru Fasulye - A Turkish Recipe For White Bean Stew




Since the heavy rain that cause the floods in Fethiye a few days ago, a dusting of snow has made itself at home along the summits of the Akdağlar mountain range - and Fethiye itself is under a bit of a cold front. That's not a complaint; far from it in fact, because, all this week, the days are forecast to be bright, clear and sunny. It's just that we need to wrap up warm and get cosy once the sun begins to set.

So our winter 'slow mode' has kicked in - that mode where food in the fridge is the stuff for recipes and invention rather than the stuff that's there to grab and snatch as and when you can as you dash from one place to the next. It's the time of year for comfort food and this week, we made a Turkish favourite, etli kuru fasulye (white bean stew with meat).

Turkish Food - Etli Kuru Fasulye
Etli kuru fasulye
A (Quick) Turkish Recipe For Etli Kuru Fasulye
Kuru fasulye means 'dried beans' and this recipe is traditionally made with dried beans. Meat is also not an essential ingredient, so, if you're vegetarian, just skip the meat stage. The vegetarian version is just as tasty. For us, though, we made this batch of white bean stew on a whim. No time to soak dried beans overnight. We wanted our meal now, so we used tinned beans.
White Beans For Kuru Fasulye
Rinse your beans to get rid of the brine flavours
If you're in Turkey, you're looking for tinned beans that read Haşlanmış Kuru Fasulye (pre cooked dried beans). They're usually in a large 800 gram tin with the actual beans weighing 400 grams. Elsewhere, you need to look for tins of haricot beans. These are one of the most common beans so they're easy to get your hands on.

This recipe serves 4 people easily - if there's only two of you, like us, never fear because kuru fasulye is just as tasty warmed up the day after.
  • Empty your 800g tin of beans into a colander, give them a good rinse and set them to one side to drain. (You'll have around 400g of beans.)
  • Finely chop a large onion and a couple of green peppers (we use the sivri biber - the long thin ones you see on the markets). Use one green bell pepper if you can't get sivri.
  • Add a glug of olive oil to a deep pan and sweat the onions and peppers on a medium heat for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  • If you want to make etli kuru fasulye (the traditional meat to use is lamb, but beef or chicken is fine), after you have added your onion and pepper, chop your raw meat into small cubes (about 0.5 cm) and add it to the pan. Saute for 15 minutes.
  • Finely chop a medium sized tomato and add that to your peppers and onions. Stir for a few minutes until the tomato has softened and broken up.
  • Now add a generous dessert spoonful of salça (tomato paste), a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes (chilli flakes are optional) and salt and pepper to season.
  • Pour in 2 coffee mugfuls of hot water (or meat stock), bring to the boil and then cover and simmer on a low heat for around 15-20 minutes until your stew is starting to thicken and all the flavours have infused.
  • Now add the beans and simmer for a further ten minutes.
And that's your perfect winter dish; etli kuru fasulye. You can either do what we did and eat it from a bowl with crusty bread, or you can go the traditional route and follow our Turkish rice recipe. Serve your white bean stew warm with the rice on the side.
Turkish Food - Quick Etli Kuru Fasulye
Quick etli kuru fasulye
Etli Kuru Fasulye - Afternotes: 
  • If you are in Turkey, you can make this recipe even quicker. There are small packs of 'kavurma' that you can buy. (Kavurma means 'braised.'). It's a rectangular block of braised beef and you can get it from the deli section of shops and supermarkets. Instead of using raw meat near the beginning of the recipe, cut about one third of the block into small cubes and add it about 5 minutes before you add your beans. You get flavours from the meat to make a stock and the kavurma tastes great. We know...because that's what we did on this occasion.
  • Kuru fasulye is served in most lokantas if you don't fancy making your own.
  • The lokantas opposite Süleymaniye Camii in Istanbul are famous for their kuru fasulye.
  • If you like the look of this recipe, you could also give our Turkish recipe for lamb stew with chickpeas a go, too.
Thursday, 20 November 2014

Fethiye - Floods, Sunshine And A Sighting Of Snow. It's Been One Of Those Days.




It started off as one of Fethiye's usual autumn days when it decides to be a bit damp and grey; not a lot going on, no layers of cloud to speak of (those that make a moody photo), a still, calm sea; steady, boring rain; a day to stay in the house (with the lights on) and cook comfort foods. Comfort food that was going to be tonight's blog post...but then the thunder and lightning came along and the steady rain became torrential...

We get torrential rains quite a lot in autumn and winter in Fethiye - and it can stick around for days, coming in waves between rainfall that most people are accustomed to. But this torrential rain just kept tumbling from the greyness above, and it just looked like it had picked up such momentum that it couldn't have stopped even if it wanted to. Remarkably, the electricity stayed on for us, so we had internet and we started to see people's photos and videos of Fethiye town centre. At least a foot of water in the centre of town...and we just felt so sorry for everyone in the local businesses around there.

Fethiye Boat After Storm
Bailing out 
We did need to go into Fethiye at some point today, but there was no way we were budging from the house until it at least slackened off to 'heavy rain.' And eventually, Fethiye did what it's good at; the rain stopped and there was a hint of blue sky in breaks above the now hazy grey. Time to make a move and set off into town...

It was cold but the sea was still. Some of the smaller boats had sunk through the weight of the rain inside them, and those that hadn't sunk were being bailed out with whatever was to hand. But generally, in the bay, all was still and the sun was defeating the cloud. It all looked so picturesque; reflections, the sun glinting from the surface of the water, the odd bit of cloud left trapped between the mountains and clear blue sky. A beautiful autumn day... 
Flooding In Dispanser, Fethiye, Turkey
The Dispanser area has suffered again
But we'd seen the flooding in Fethiye online so we knew the streets wouldn't have recovered from the weather quite as quickly as the sea had. We also knew Dispanser (an area of town famed for flooding) would be badly hit. So much work has been done around here to improve drainage - not sure if that work has failed or if the rain was just too overwhelming anyway - it really was so heavy. Whatever the case, by the time we passed the area, these guys were on a clean up mission and the sound of water pumps and generators was all that could be heard.
Fethiye Floods, Turkey
 Reflections in the floods
It did all feel like an aftermath - which is what it was, of course. So strange because the sun was now shining and the hills and trees were reflecting in the flood waters. That's nature for you isn't it? Just reminding us all that it's still here, both in its scenic beauty and in the chaos it can cause if we play around with it too much.
Fethiye Sunset After The Storm
This evening's sunset in Fethiye - was there really all that rain?
In Fethiye, many shops were closed - either shuttered up or full of staff swishing water outside. LC Waikiki (a major high street chain store in Turkey) was closed - and someone on our Facebook page told us the staff had given them all carrier bags to put over their feet as makeshift wellies when the flood waters came into the store.

Others shop owners were hosing down pedestrianised areas around Paspatur as the fast-receding water left behind its dose of muddy sludge. And maybe the drainage is at least a bit better in Dispanser because, as we walked back home not 30 minutes later, the guys in the yellow wellies in the photo above were packing up and the flood water was all but gone. No doubt business owners around town have still got lots of clearing and cleaning to do and our thoughts are with them. Best wishes to them all.
Snow on Akdağlar Mountains, Turkey
Snow on Akdağlar
And we did say it was cold. As we walked along the harbour, the sun setting and people escaping their homes and filling the restaurants, we noticed the Akdağlar mountain range (those huge bulks that dominate the D400 skyline as you drive eastwards towards Kaş and Antalya). The first powdery snow has settled along their tops...and we can feel it in Fethiye.

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Gözleme By The Seaside - Well It Works At Denizatı




As you're no doubt more than aware by now - if you follow our daily goings on in this blog, that is - we're big fans of gözleme. It's an almost weekly staple for us at either the Fethiye Tuesday market or the Çalış Sunday market; a good fill of gözleme and pickles - and then you've got your fuel for hitting the stalls to stock up on your fruit and veg for the week, and it all just makes for very happy shopping. 

Of course, some stalls do a better gözleme than others, and we all have our favourites - we go to the same place every week. Light-and-crispy-not-oily is the key for us, and then a filling of minced meat and potato (kıymalı patatesli) - just the right proportions - and a bowl of pickles (turşu) on the side, too. There's just got to be pickles! 


Apart from the market, whenever we walk from Fethiye to Kayaköy, on arrival in Kayaköy, our feet always manage to walk us straight to Bülent'in Yeri. They do a great gözleme...and fab homemade chips washed down with a beer; perfect after a good leg-stretch of a walk. 

Denizatı Restaurant Menu, Fethiye, Turkey
  
And now, in Fethiye, gözleme is also to be found in those sorts of places you might not expect. Gözleme is associated with village food, it's made in the home and bought from roadside stands or small eateries set up around family homes in villages (such as Bülent'in Yeri in Kayaköy). Wherever you drive around these parts, you'll be hard pushed not to see a sign advertising gözleme somewhere on your journey.

As a food associated with the countryside and villages, gözleme is not generally associated with Fethiye's seaside restaurants - except, now, it is! We've written about Denizatı Restaurant & Bar along Fethiye harbour in the past so we'll not go into detail there. But we will say, that when we spotted gözleme on their menu a few months ago, we were curious, yet not expecting much.

This is a restaurant where, as in other larger restaurants, you can get a whole range of well-presented Turkish and international dishes. Were they really going to be overly bothered in concentrating on a piece of pastry with a bit of filling that's usually served up in villages? Well, in for penny, in for a pound and all that. You're never going to know until you try; it's very reasonably priced (especially for a harbourside restaurant), so we took the plunge...
Gözleme At Denizatı Restaurant, Fethiye
Kıymalı patatesli gözleme 
And now, if anyone asks us where does the best meat and potato gözleme, we have a conundrum. We never thought a restaurant would do as good a version as those specialising in the serving of gözleme; but we were wrong. We already knew Denizatı Restaurant had a lady who makes the bread which is served before meals with olives and cheese - and we love that bread. Well, she's apparently the same lady who does the gözleme, too - this woman knows her way around a piece of dough! 

It's light, it's crispy-not-oily, and the filling is very generous - so you're going to be set up for a good few hours after you've waded through it. What more to say? Well, no turşu (pickles) but you can improvise. This is gözleme restaurant-style and Denizatı Restaurant does a meze of pickled beetroot. When we're at the restaurant, that's our little indulgence to compliment our cheap treat...because we've eaten gözleme at Denizatı Restaurant on more than one occasion, now. Is it our favourite one? Eek...what to say...it's up there...it's up there...

  • Denizatı have various fillings available on their menu, as you can see in the photo above (click on the photo to enlarge it if you need a bigger version).
  • Kıymalı patatesli (minced meat and potato) isn't on the menu as an option to be eaten together - but they'll do it if you ask (we do!)
  • For more of the menu at Denizatı Restaurant, they have a photo album of all the menu listings on their Facebook page.
Saturday, 15 November 2014

(Not) Turkish Meze Recipes - Sweet & Spicy Tomato Chilli Relish




We're always playing around with different meze recipes just because it's a great way to eat. The meze table is a social thing, even when it's just the two of us - and even if we're just talking about the food we've made. Recently, we made a new addition to our meze menu and, although it's not Turkish, it still compliments everything else on your meze table and it's really quick and easy to make.

The famous Turkish chilli tomato dip recipe is Acılı Antep Ezmesi and this is one of our favourites. But we usually make that if we have friends for dinner because it does require a bit of your time. The recipe we're doing in this post is again a chilli tomato dip...but we're going sweet, too. This is basically a homemade sweet chilli relish and is a great side to lots of meals as well as meze. 

Sweet Chilli Relish
We thought this bowlful would last us longer
We made a bowlful of the dip recently, thinking we would jar it up and leave it in the fridge to enjoy at leisure. Not sure who we were kidding with that little idea because it never made it to the jar. We just ate it! 

The following ingredient amounts are not set in stone; they're just a general guide so don't worry too much about weight and measurement.
  • Finely chop one large onion - the sweeter the better but you don't need to worry too much about that.
  • Now finely chop 1 large tomato (if you're not on the large Turkish tomatoes, you'll need 2-3 regular tomatoes - around 400g in total).
  • Heat 4-5 tablespoonfuls of vinegar in a pan. In Turkey, we use the grape vinegar but if you want a more subtle vinegar flavour, use a wine or an apple vinegar.
  • Now add 2 dessertspoonfuls of sugar with a splash of water and stir it all around until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add your chopped onion and stir around for a minute or two.
  • Now add your tomato and as many hot chilli flakes as you can handle (you can always add more later if you want to make it more spicy).
  • Now remove from the heat and leave to cool.
And that's it. Quick and easy. Do a little taste test to see if you want to add anything else to it. And to serve:
Sweet Chilli & Tomato Dip
Sweet chilli tomato dip
Remember our Brussels sprouts and yoghurt meze recipe where we served it on toasted bread? Well we had this sweet chilli tomato dip on the same day and we just made a few slices of toast. Lightly toasted bread rubbed with a half clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Put your tomato chilli dip on the toast and top with basil. Yummy! 

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