Rose flavoured chewy sweets dipped in dark chocolate and decorated with a little white chocolate. The dark chocolate perfectly balances the sweetness of the Turkish …
This delicious dip hearlding from Türkiye is made using a handful of ingredients. Grated carrots are sautéed gently and then added to Greek yoghurt with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and pul biber to make a divine addition to a Mezze-style spread.
Turkish cuisine is close to my heart almost as much as Persian cusine! I have travelled to Türkiye more times than i have to Iran, mostly because of the food but also the kindess of the people, the weather, the history and the sights!
The culture surrounding food in this beautiful country is very like that in Iran. It is the essence of family, coming together, sharing and eating with your loved ones. Turkish patisseries are incredible, filled with cakes, breads and other baked goods. Around the streets of Istanbul you can pick up freshly baked simit (the Turkish equivalent of a bagel) and eat it while soaking up the sights and washing it down with Turkish tea of coffee! The kebabs and other main dishes are outstanding as are the arrays of appetisers and starters pre the main event.
One of the dishes I fell in love with while visiting Istanbul was Havuç Tarator.
What is Havuç Tarator?
Havuç Tarator is a simple yoghurt-based dip made with sautéed grated carrot, crushed walnuts. lemon juice, pul biber, olive oil and a hint of garlic. It is absolutely delicious and easy to knock up.
For those of you who may not be familiar with pul biber, it is a dried, coarsely ground dark red pepper is grown in Syria and Turkey. It is used as a condiment and has a mildly smoky flavor with moderate heat. If you are unable to find it, you can substitute with dried red chilli flakes.
Serve Havuç Tarator alongside a mezze-style meal with lots of other dishes; as an accompaniment to kebabs or other BBQ dishes; or just with crackers or crisps.
Other Turkish Recipes
- Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs and Tomatoes) (simplyrecipes.com)
- Mercimek Çorbası (Turkish Lentil Soup) Recipe (simplyrecipes.com)
- Dark Chocolate Covered Turkish Delights
- Simit (Turkish Sesame Encrusted Bread)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium carrots (grated on the coarse side of a box grater)
- 1 large garlic clove (crushed)
- 500 g Greek yoghurt
- 30 grams walnuts (coarsley crushed)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pul Biber or Aleppo Pepper (red pepper flakes)
- Squeeze or 2 of fresh lemon juice
- Pul Biber or Aleppo Pepper
- Olive oil (to drizzle on top)
- Walnuts halves
- Place a frying pan on a medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once the oil starts to glisten, add grated carrot. Then add crushed garlic and stir until the carrot wilts and the garlic is evenly distributed - this should only take a few minutes. Turn off the heat and let the carrot mixture cool.
- Take a bowl, add yoghurt, grated carrot, crushed walnuts, lemon juice, salt, Pul Biber and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning or other flavours as desired.
- Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for the flavours to intensify and mix well through the yoghurt (no less than 1 hour).
- When you are ready to serve the dip, drizzle some olive oil on top and decorate with walnuts and a sprinkle of Pul Biber. Serve as part of a mezze-style spread of dishes, or as an appetiser.
Also know as the Turkish Bagel, these beautifully doughy yet crunchy sesame encrusted bread rings are perfect for a Turkish-style breakfast or as sandwich bread.
What Is Simit?
Simit is a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds, which is common to the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and the Middle-East. It is widely known as a Turkish bagel in the USA and Koulouri in Greece. They are commonly eaten at breakfast and are a much loved street food available on many corners in Istanbul. They have a crispy exterior and a soft doughy interior, which can be created using a standard bread dough mixture.
The distinctive taste of Simit comes from a combination of toasted sesame seeds and a grape molasses glaze. Grape molasses can be found online or at Middle-Eastern supermarkets. Sesame seeds are widely available in their raw form, so you will need to toast them in a dry frying pan before coating the Simit rings.
I was first introduced to Simit during one of our holidays in Turkey. Many of us Iranians love holidaying in Turkey as it feels familiar but with the freedoms we cannot enjoy in our own motherland. In fact, I have travelled to Turkey more than I have to Iran. The hospitality, the food and the weather make for the perfect destination for my family and it feels like home.
The variety of baked goods available in Turkey is incredible and Simit is no exception. You will often find it offered as part of the Turkish breakfast spread offering known as Kahvalti. The commitment to breakfast is incredible in Türkiye. Kahvalti translates to “before coffee” and is all about gathering and sharing dishes with your family. Turkish restaurants and families at home prepare many little dishes to fill the breakfast table, allowing you to sample them at your leisure .
How to serve Simit
When I bake them at home, we either eat them with feta and halva or with clotted cream and honey. We also love having them as an accompaniment to egg dishes (as pictured below). The recipe for Nargessi (Persian spinach Eggs as pictured) can be found here.
For a traditional Turkish breakfast serve alongside with Menemen (Turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoes).
Simit is at its best fresh out of the oven. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days once it is cool. Just bake in a medium to hot oven for 5 to 10 mins to refresh or slice and toast.
- 500 g strong white bread flour (plus extra for sprinkling on your surface when shaping the Simit)
- 7 g fast-action yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 300 ml tepid water
- A little olive oil (to oil the bowl the dough proves in)
- 100 ml grape molasses (üzüm pekmezi)
- 50 ml water
- 2 tsp flour
- 300 g toasted sesame seeds
- Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for around 10 mins. Once the dough is smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Mix the grape molasses, water and flour in a large bowl.
- Prepare the toasted sesame seeds. Take the raw sesame seeds, toast in a dry pan until golden, shaking and stirring the pan regularly. Take care not to burn the seeds. It should only take a few minutes to toast the sesame seeds.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C / fan 200°C / gas 7 / 425°F. Place a baking tray in the oven.
- Once the dough has proved, cut into 12 equal sized pieces. Sprinkle some flour on the surface and roll each piece into a long sausage about 25cm long. Take two of the rolled dough pieces and place them alongside each other. Squeeze the ends together and roll the ends in opposite directions, causing them to braid. Squeeze the two ends together to form a ring. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Dip the simits into the grape molasses mixture until covered. Cover completely with sesame seeds. Stretch the dough a little as you do this to ensure the Simit is even but don't worry if it is not perfect - rustic is a great look! Place the ready Simits on a piece of baking paper, cover with a tea towel and let prove for a further 30 mins.
- Bake for 15 to 20 mins until cooked through and golden brown on the outside. Check the Simit occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn and turn the heat down if necessary.
- Leave to cool on a cooling rack. Simit is best eaten while still warm so if you don't eat them straight away, reheat in the oven before consuming.