Simple food is just the best – and for this Turkish recipe, once again the humble potato shines through. Kumpir is a classic Turkish street food and is better known to us English speakers as baked potato or jacket potato.
However, we very rarely eat kumpir when we’re out and about…that’s because, when it comes to baked potatoes, I’m very fussy! If the potato has been out of the oven for a while and the skin has started to soften, well, it’s just not the same. So for me, the only time I will eat kumpir is if the turnover of potatoes is brisk, meaning they’re always freshly baked with crispy skin.
A few years ago, we took ourselves off to Ortaköy in Istanbul. We had no idea at the time, but Ortaköy is basically the kumpir capital of Turkey. Stand after stand churning out hot jacket potatoes, mashing the butter and cheese inside before spooning a ridiculous number of whatever mixed toppings the customer chooses…and there were lots of customers! I was in potato heaven.
A Turkish Recipe For Kumpir (Baked Potato)
But we don’t often get to Ortaköy (it’s a long way from Fethiye) so we tend to make our own kumpir; that way, we get to make sure we eat the potato as soon as it comes out of the oven.
We don’t own a microwave oven, we have no intention of owning a microwave oven, and it was a sad day when people decided it was acceptable to nuke bake potatoes in a microwave oven.
Before we get lots of comments from people defending their right to put their potatoes in the microwave, this is just a personal feeling and please read it with a hint of humour. Thanks. Right, now we’ve got that one sorted, let’s get cracking:
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.
- Scrub 2 large potatoes (we’re blessed with large ‘sarı’ potatoes in Turkey and they make a perfect kumpir) and prod them a few times with a sharp knife.
- Place them on the oven rack in the centre of the oven and forget about them for 90 minutes.
For The Filling:
If you order kumpir in Turkey, the standard filling is first, lots of butter mashed into the potato, followed by cheese. There’s then a row of other toppings that you can just point at to your heart’s content – sweetcorn, olives, salami, coleslaw, Russian salad, allsorts – and you walk away with an over-stuffed potato because you got ever-excited by the choices on offer. We’re a bit more controlled and sensible when we’re at home.
- Grate (roughly – you can use as much as you like) 150g of cheese. We use Izmir tulum but any cheese that melts easily is fine.
- Finely chop one onion and one sweet red pepper.
- Put these ingredients into a large bowl with a good sprinkling of salt and pepper, chilli flakes (optional) and, as you can see in the photo, a squeeze of wasabi paste. We usually add a dollop of mustard (Turkish mustard is like Dijon mustard) but some friends left us with some wasabi and we couldn’t resist).
This is where we stray a little from the traditional kumpir of Turkey. Our potatoes are going back in the oven:
- After 90 minutes, remove your potatoes from the oven and turn the oven up high.
- Cut each potato in half and, with a fork, scrape the potato into the bowl, leaving the potato skins empty.
- Mash the potato into the cheese mixture and make sure it is all fully mixed. You can add a knob of butter if you like, too.
- Now spoon all the potato and cheese mixture back into the potato skins, forking through the top so that they’re roughed up.
- Place them back in your hot oven for around 10 minutes or until the tops have crisped up.
Now you can remove your potatoes from the oven and serve. How you eat them is up to you. Personally, I like to eat the filling first and then, when the skin is empty, I put a dollop of natural yoghurt inside and enjoy the skin. Bliss!