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Seasonal Food in Turkey – Çiriş And Courgette Flowers

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Two photos today for the seasonal food that’s on the markets around Fethiye at the moment. Spring is always going to mean an abundance of different fruit and vegetables – and there really is an abundance right now – so we’re trying to keep up with it all.

Seasonal Food In Turkey – What is Çiriş?

The first time we saw çiriş (chee-reesh) on the market, we had absolutely no idea what it was – it was new to our eyes, we knew it was edible, obviously.

But we didn’t have a clue what çiriş was or how to cook it. We see it on Fethiye market at this time every year but we’ve never seen it anywhere else.

It’s Turkish name on this stall is kiriş but after doing a bit of asking around of Fethiye-based Turkish friends – some of them chefs – we’ve all come to the conclusion that this is maybe a dialect word for it.

Different words for various fruits and vegetables on Fethiye markets are very common and we like it that way. It’s just that internet research (with friends, during asking around) has shown us that this wild, edible plant is called çiriş.

Çiriş Otu Edible Wild Plants
Çiriş Otu for sale at Çalış Market

The Latin name for çiriş is eremurus and in places like the UK, it’s grown as a flowering plant (foxtail lily) in those idyllic cottage gardens you see.

These flowers can grow to metre (or more) tall and we think (from photo research) that they are the same springtime wildflowers we’ve seen in Kayaköy.

But, for the Turkish seasonal food focus of this post, we’re not interested in the flowers. We’re interested in the initial baby growth and we’ve been told by friends that çiriş grows in the yayla around Fethiye. (‘Yayla’ is the highlands and mountains around the Fethiye area).

So, if you’re around those areas and you know how to spot it, it’s free because it grows wild. For us uneducated ‘townies’, thank you to the people that pick it and come to sell it on the markets – it’s especially for sale at this time of year on the Fethiye Friday village market – we’re more than happy to pay our few lira for a kilo of seasonal loveliness.

As you can see in the photo, çiriş is a bunch of strong green leaves. Çiriş grows in the yayla after the harsh winter.

Once the snow begins to melt, the shoots start to sprout. It’s possible to eat these shoots raw and the texture isn’t dissimilar to the shoots from spring onion…but the flavour is more subtle.

They’re a great texture and flavour addition to a seasonal salad.

But, of course, we’ve got some future seasonal Turkish çiriş recipes (such as Çiriş With Bulgur Wheat) coming up that celebrate the use of these wild shoots.

Courgette Flowers – Kabak Çiçeği

Our second example of seasonal produce – mmmm, my mouth’s watering just looking at this photo – is something we’ve only ever seen on the Friday village market in the past but these beautiful courgette flowers were on Fethiye Tuesday market this morning.

Courgette Flowers
Courgette flowers on Fethiye market

In the past, we’ve bought them and made a light tempura batter. First of all, heat your sunflower oil, then pull out the stamens of your courgette flowers and then dip the petals – as a complete flower – into your batter mix.

If your oil is hot enough, and your tempura batter light enough (we’re not pretending to be experts on light tempura batter), your result should be light, crispy courgette flowers, and they’re just fab.

But what do we do with kabak çiçeği in Turkey? The traditional way to cook them in Turkey is to make dolma, stuffing the flowers with a rice mixture to make kabak çiçeği dolması.

The mixture is similar to the rice mixture for the Turkish recipe we posted for biber dolması (green peppers stuffed with rice).

However you choose to use your courgette flowers, we hope you enjoy them as much as we do…and hopefully, we’ll have Turkish recipes – and possibly not-so-Turkish recipes – coming soon…

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Turkey's For Life

Wednesday 14th of April 2010

Thanks Annie.

One of our Turkish friends has told us the Turkish name. She's going to tell us a good way to cook them when we see her at the weekend - wonder if it's the same recipe as yours?

Annie Prior Ozsarac

Wednesday 14th of April 2010

Those look to me like wild iris shoots.

If you make a risotto (or even just a pilav), you can throw the flowers in after lightly sauteing them. I put them into a brown rice risotto, and they are delish!I have been enjoying your blog.

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