With the calming melodies of traditional folk music, vibrant colourful crockery and the delicious aromas of exotic herbs and spices, the scene was set for our first-ever lesson on Turkish cooking
Having left buying MrM’s birthday present until too late, Ozlem from Mezzeturca still somehow managed to get his voucher to him in time for the big day and also kindly (and bravely) invited me to come too to learn the art of “Mezze”. A bit like tapas, it’s all about fresh, colourful small dishes.
We were now in Ozlem’s kitchen with Tupperware, aprons and high hopes ready to cook the dishes that MrM had chosen in advance. His selection looked intricate and hopelessly difficult to make, but after an interesting introduction to Turkish cuisine and its ingredients, we got started. Oz inherited her mother’s passion for cooking and imparted simple instructions with easy-to-follow demonstrations.
Our first dish was “Mercimek kofte” (red lentil koftes). Although I chopped the spring onions with the dexterity of Robocop, the dish was easy enough with Oz’s guidance and looked fantastic when served up onto a colourful Turkish plate and garnished with lettuce and lemons.
Then it was onto “patlican salata” (smoked aubergine salad) which again proved an easy but delicious dish even though I inadvertently sabotaged this one too – this time by confusing the mixing bowl with the one for the compost, adding thousands of unwanted seeds to the mix. Still not having been ejected from the lesson, we then made “Kereviz mezesi” (celeriac and yogurt mezze) – an unusual choice apparently – especially in the summer, but it virtually made itself – just a bit of grating and stirring and voila!
As a bonus dish, there was tzatziki too (known as Cacek in Turkish). Small son had almost polished this off with some pitta bread while we were distracted with the business of dessert – baklava. In all my years of marvelling at this and buying it from street stalls, it never once occurred to me to make it at home as I considered it too fiddly and the ingredients too difficult to source. Oz helped us make it in about 10 minutes- including oven time! Unbelievably, it’s eaten with clotted cream which pleased me no end, and Oz helpfully provided a shopping list of where to buy fresh but low-cost ingredients for all of the dishes we made.
We were astonished at the selection of healthy and vibrant dishes we’d made and can’t wait for our next barbecue invitation!
Afiyet olsun! (bon appetit!)