Healthy Turkish Recipes That Will Transport You to Istanbul
Circassian Chicken (Çerkez Tavugu)
Circassian cooking is from the North Caucasus, which was at different times part of the Ottoman and Persian empires. This chicken stew recipe is made with a creamy walnut sauce and was originally served as a main dish, but became a mezze somewhere along the way. Serve at room temp along with some bread for dipping.
Tomato Dolma with Roasted Eggplant (Köz Patlicanli Domates Dolmasi)
Dolma are stuffed vegetables common from the Mediterranean all the way to Central Asia. This easy recipe pairs ripe tomatoes with a ground beef filling that's lightened with eggplant and onions. Serve the stuffed tomatoes as a starter or double up for a main dish.
Lamb & Walnut Gul Börek
These gul, or rose-shaped, pastries are savory with a sweet touch from sautéed onions and sun-dried tomatoes. A little vinegar in the olive oil used for brushing the layers of phyllo keeps the dough pliable and easier to coil.
Cucumber with Basil, Yogurt, Walnuts & Browned Butter (Yanik Tereyagli Cacik)
You may not typically serve your cucumbers bruised, but intentionally smashing them releases their flavorful juices. Taking the time to soak the walnuts for this dish gives them a special soft texture and plumpness. Serve this vegetable dish with pita as part of a mezze platter or as a side salad.
Olive Oil-Braised Jewish Zucchini Peels (Kashkarikas)
A popular Sephardic Jewish dish, cuajado, is made with just the zucchini flesh mixed with fresh cheese and matzo meal. This vegetable side dish recipe was created so the peels wouldn't go to waste. Serve as an appetizer or a side dish. Use any leftover zucchini flesh in stuffings, breads and muffins or just sauté with garlic in olive oil.
Eggplant with Sweet-Sour Onions & Pickled Cherries (Visneli Patlican Bayildi)
This layered dish features super-tender roasted eggplant and sweet sautéed onions spiked with tart and fruity pomegranate molasses. Serve with pita as part of a mezze course or as a side with a larger meal.
Eggplant Bulgur Pilaf
One of the most important dishes at a Turkish table, this simple pilaf recipe features a combination of eggplant and bulgur. It is often an accompaniment to meat or chicken.
Turkish Lamb & Eggplant Kebabs
Here we combine baharat, a traditional Arabic spice blend, with olive oil, lemon, garlic and tomato paste to make it into a savory rub to flavor lamb-and-vegetable kebabs.
Turkish Chickpea & Lamb Soup
This recipe was inspired by a hearty lamb and chickpea soup from Turkey. Finishing it with a dollop of pistachio-mint pesto adds another layer of flavor.
Baked Curried Brown Rice & Lentil Pilaf
Pop this fast and fragrant vegetarian dish into the oven and forget it till the timer rings. Serve as a main course on a bed of wilted spinach to add color and maximize iron absorption or serve as a side with Turkish Chicken Thighs.