It’s usually springtime that comes to mind when we think of seasonal food and abundance – but autumn on the markets of Fethiye is also another period where the stalls are just piled high with all the seasonal produce that tells us summer is over and winter is almost upon us. That’s no bad thing; it’s that warm and cosy feeling that makes you think ‘comfort food’ as you buy up all the fruits and vegetables you haven’t seen since the year before.
The broccoli looks so tempting as the ‘trees’ are packed tightly and neatly, row on row, plump and green. Time for broccoli and potato soup or even a more traditional Turkish broccoli meze. Citrus fruits are just starting to come into their own, too. Just as the colder weather starts to come, we can give our bodies a Vitamin C boost and soups and meze dishes can benefit from a squeeze of delicately flavoured fresh, ripe lemon. It’s a great time of year to be in Fethiye!
(Etli) Kapuska – A Turkish Cabbage Stew Recipe (With Meat)
And then there are these not-so-little wonders of the vegetable world…
You can buy cabbage at Fethiye markets most times of the year, but, during winter, they bulge and grow, Jack-And-The-Beanstalk style, and some of them just make the mind boggle. Believe us, there are much bigger ones around than the cabbages in this photo, and these are more than big enough for any family.
So, what to make with all this cabbage? That’s what a reader asked us recently on Instagram. He too was amazed by the size of the cabbages, took a photo of them and asked us if there are any recipes which could make use of them. Ohhh, yes there are – and that request very conveniently reminded us that we are yet to post one of our favourite recipes: Etli Kapuska; a Turkish cabbage stew recipe with meat.
If you are anything like us and thought you didn’t like cabbage (or are not over keen on it); this Turkish cabbage stew recipe could be the one that changes all that. We love it! So let’s get started.
How To Make Kapuska With Meat
- 300g stew beef or lamb cut into small chunks (you can use minced beef or lamb, too, if you wish)
- 750g white cabbage, thick stem removed, washed and roughly chopped
- 2 large onions peeled, quartered and sliced
- 2 large Turkish tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped (or 1 400g tin tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp salça (tomato paste or red pepper paste)
- 500 ml hot water (this is approximate depending on how thick you want your juices)
- 1 dessert spoonful sweet paprika
- 1 dessert spoonful hot chilli flakes
- 1 dessert spoonful butter or sunflower oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper for seasoning
- In a large saucepan gently heat your oil or butter and then add your meat.
- Stir for a few minutes until it's browned.
- Now add your onion and stir until the onion starts to soften (around 5 minutes).
- Add your tomatoes to the pan, mix and simmer for around 5 more minutes before adding your paprika and chilli flakes, salt and pepper.
- Mix them altogether and add your tomato or pepper paste.
- Stir until the paste has dissolved into the mixture.
- Now add your hot water, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.
- Simmer for around 45 minutes until your meat is tender (around 20 minutes for minced meat).
- Now add your cabbage - it will seem a lot but will soon reduce.
- Stir in carefully, cover and simmer for a further 30 minutes until your cabbage is soft.
- Either serve as it is or add more water if you want thinner juices.
- Serve in a large bowl with fresh Turkish crusty bread.
Nutritional values are approximate, depending on which meat (if any) you use and the size of your vegetables.
Your meat doesn't have to be an expensive cut as you are cooking it for so long so it will be tender anyway.
And that’s it! Kapuska can be made without meat if you are vegetarian or vegan (or if you’re just not in the mood for meat, of course) but whichever way you choose to make it, there’s no denying that this one pot Turkish cabbage stew is pure comfort food for winter. It’s a dish that lets the cabbage shine, hence the reason for using so much – and it’s the dish that made us fully appreciate the joy of cabbage! Who’d have though we could actually be excited about cabbage?
If you’re thinking ‘Kapuska’ doesn’t really sound like the name of a Turkish food – and if you’re thinking this dish doesn’t look like a typical Turkish dish, this is because we’re up in the cold north of the country for cabbage stew – a place where hearty stews are very necessary in winter.
Apparently, the word ‘kapuska’ originates from the Russian word for cabbage (Russian readers might be able to help us out there) and this type of stew is eaten in countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland (the Polish word for cabbage is ‘kapusta‘ and it is also the name of their similar cabbage dish). So you get the picture. It’s that type of dish – a dish to keep us all cosy and warm in the colder months – and it comes with the clear advantage that it tastes fabulous.
Notes On Turkish Cabbage Stew
- If you can handle it, don’t be shy with the chilli flakes (pul biber) as this dish is supposed to be hot and spicy.
- As with lots of traditional recipes like this, kapuska is made differently in every home, to each family’s recipe. Add more water if you like, for more juices.
- For an even more hearty cabbage stew, some people add bulgur wheat or rice. For us, we add more water and a little bit more salça just to make it more ‘soupy,’ as you can see in the photo.
- Serve piping hot in a large bowl, tear yourself a piece of fresh, crusty bread and tuck in. It’s wintery, it’s seasonal and we just love it!
- If you’ve got lots of fresh cabbage leftovers after making your kapuska, you could always make coleslaw from it.
- Kapuska (Turkish Cabbage Stew) is in the Meat & Seafood section of our full collection of Turkish recipes.
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