Do It Yourself: Turkish Food, Part 2

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

The kitchen is heating up here, folks!

We are doing our best to bring you the best of Turkish recipes by trying out some traditional dishes ourselves. Our first attempt included the popular köfte and stuffed peppers, and this time we bring you Circassian Chicken and Eggplant Paste (Sultan’s Delight).

Circassian Chicken (Çerkez Tavuğu)

1 whole chicken
1 small onion
1 small carrot – grated
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh dill
Garlic Salt

250g. walnuts
3 slices dry bread
1 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 tsp. ground chilies
3 cloves garlic
3 glasses chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp crushed chilies

Chicken in Oven

Put whole washed chicken, peeled onion and grated carrots into a saucepan. Cover with water then sprinkle on garlic salt and dill. Cook at 300 degrees until fully cooked.

Remove the chicken from the stock and let the chicken cool. Set aside the stock and whole onion for the sauce. Remove the skin and bones and tear the chicken meat into small pieces and put in a bowl. Set aside.

Sauce Ingredients

Sauce: Put the walnuts in a blender. Soak the dry bread in water, squeeze out excess water and crumble the bread, adding it to the walnuts. Add the onion that had been cooked with the chicken, crushed garlic, ground chilies, ground red pepper and blend. Slowly add the chicken stock that was put aside and continue to blend until the sauce is creamy.

In a serving dish, combine half the sauce with the chicken. Mix well until all the chicken is covered. Spread the rest of the sauce over the chicken.

Melt margarine in a saucepan and add crushed chilis. Let simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and sprinkle over chicken dish.

Refrigerate the chicken dish for 4 hours (or longer). Serve when ready.


The Verdict: This took a long time to prepare (including the 3 hours cooking time for the chicken). If we were to do it again, we may just use chicken breasts to speed up the process. It was worth it though as the taste is quite nice with the walnut and chili sauces blended. It is traditionally an appetizer or side dish (would be perfect for a dinner party), although we enjoyed it best as a modified chicken salad sandwich the following day. 🙂 It was also way too much food for two people and this recipe is easily enough for six.

Eggplant Paste (Hünkar Beğendi)

We first tried this dish with our good friend Güneş and were inspired to try and make it ourselves.

1-2 large eggplants
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional, and recommended)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Melt the margarine in a saucepan.  Add the flour and brown lightly on medium heat.  When done, leave aside.

In a separate pan grill the whole eggplants (we had to cut in half so they would fit into the pan, you can also put them on a barbeque).  Cook them until they are burnt on the outside and very soft on the inside (about 20 minutes).  Hold the eggplant by the stem under cold running tap water for about 4-5 seconds.   After, peel the skin (it should be easy) and then put the egg-plant on a wood cutting board and mash with a fork.  Add it to the flour mixture.

Next, put the mashed eggplant mixture in a saucepan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Slowly stir in the milk, salt, garlic powder and finally the cheese.  Once the cheese in melted it is ready to serve.

Eggplant Paste

The Verdict: This turned out to be an easy favorite. We are generally not big fans of eggplant, but this is an exception as it is quite tasty and was very easy to make. It really was not the most visually appealing dish but as we quite often say, it’s all just going down the hatch anyway.

23 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Ter
    April 20 2012

    If you and Dade ever decide to take root somewhere, I can totally see you opening up a little cafe called “Favourites From Around the World”. You could have like 6 dishes on the menu at a time, and every month change it up. 🙂

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      The thought has certainly crossed our mind Ter. Nice, small, cozy little place. Yep, I’m off daydreaming again 🙂

  • Mom
    April 20 2012

    Looks yummy. Hoping when you come home,Pete will cook us up some of these delicacies.(to me anyway)

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Of course I will. I love to cook for others, and to share these recipes is even more fun. It’s never as good just cooking for yourself.

  • April 21 2012

    This looks delicious but a little difficult to prepare! I love Turkish food, but when it’s too difficult, I just give up and leave it to restaurants.. I’m always better preparing veggies dishes, way easier to handle 🙂

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      I’m with you on that one Angela, I was just feeling motivated. And yes veggie dishes are much easier to handle and prepare.

  • Laura @Travelocafe
    April 21 2012

    Yummy! Yet another great recipe from the road.

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Thanks Laura, I agree that we are finding some pretty delicious finds.

  • jan
    April 21 2012

    Good on you for trying these dishes. Keep it up!

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Thanks Jan, we are trying 🙂 It’s tough when you want to go into town and try the restaurants as well. But we have probably will have one more attempt at Turkish fare.

  • Abby
    April 21 2012

    Amazing. I love Turkish food. Have never even considered attempting to cook it!

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      I had low expectations coming in, and have been blown away. So delicious… We are on the fence whether or not we attempt Baklava.

  • April 23 2012

    Yum. Inspires me to try and cook more.

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Cheers Matt. I think i missed my calling in the culinary world, but oh well, getting at it late is better than never I guess.

  • April 23 2012

    Dayum!! Loving this series on Turkish food. Bookmarked for later cooking attempt 🙂
    Phil recently posted..Early Successes and Failures of Running a Business in Abidjan

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Thanks Phil. Like I mentioned in a previous comment, we are on the fence whether or not to attempt Baklava. Locals look at us in disbelief when we say we are going to. Regardless, it most likely will be a dessert of some sort.

  • April 23 2012

    Ah, this looks so delicious. I am starving because of you. Circassian Chicken is right up my alley.
    Elise Walsh recently posted..Celebrity Vacation Hot Spots

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Sorry to make you starving Elise 🙂 If you have the time, (and the people to share it with) give it a shot.

  • April 23 2012

    It looks complicated but I’m sure the product will be well worth it!
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Mountain Biking Excursion in Miami’s Key Biscayne

  • Lisa
    April 27 2012

    The chicken sounds excellent, though three hours is a long time to be cooking. Modifying with the chicken breasts sounds like a good option.

  • Ali
    April 30 2012

    The recipe with the whole chicken is normally an appetizer?! For 20 people or something? Sounds good, but I think your idea of using chicken breasts would make it more manageable.

    • May 1 2012

      Yeah, it made a LOT (for us wee 2 people). Although it did make for excellent chicken salad sandwiches the day after. YUM!

  • September 18 2012

    Kind of like babaganoush, with cheese! I need to try this! yum.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge