Turkish Mezzo

One of my favourite stops in Europe is Turkey. A magical & mysterious land where East meets West. Here are some snaps of my travels in 2009.

istanbultopkapi haremtraditional turkish wearbosphorus

Food-wise it is also a great place for a veggie like me! This meal was inspired by my time there. A side of succulent falafels, three traditional sauces, royal roasted vegetables and jeweled couscous make this a feast fit for a king!

turkish meal 3

Turkish Mezzo

Serves: 4

*You can buy the falafels premade but it’s worth making your own!

Ingredients: Royal Roast Veg

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 2 red onions
  • Salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sumac

Ingredients: Pancar Ezmesi – Beetroot Dip

  • 400g cooked beetroot, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp per beetroot, for roasting
  • Salt
  • 6 tbsp plain Turkish or Greek-style yoghurt or a vegan alternative
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • flatbread

Ingredients: Haydari – Yoghurt Dip

  • 1 (16 ounce) container plain vegan yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch salt & pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (optional)
  • 1 pinch red chilli flakes
  • 2 mint leaves, for garnish

Ingredients: Kozlenmis Kirmizi Biberli Hummus – Roasted red pepper & peanut hummus

  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas/canned
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 Tbsp tahini
  • ¾ cup roasted red pepper, skinned
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup water (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Ingredients: Falafels

  • 1 bundle fresh parsley (~2 cups chopped)
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 large lemon (~2 1/2 Tbsp juice)
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt + black pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, well rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup ground raw walnuts, pecans, almonds or GF oat flour

Ingredients: Jeweled Couscous

  • 250 g couscous
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium red onion , peeled
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
  • ½ bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ unwaxed lemon, zest and juice from unwaxed lemon
  • handful of pomegranate seeds & raisins

Method: Dips!

  1. Beetroot Dip: Quarter the beetroots and place in a blender with the olive oil, yoghurt and garlic, then blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Set aside.
  2. Yoghurt DipLine a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place over a medium bowl. Place the yogurt on the cheesecloth and cover the colander with plastic wrap. Allow yogurt to drain 8 hours or overnight. Scoop the drained yogurt into a mixing bowl. Mash the garlic cloves with the salt into a fine paste; mix into the yogurt. Stir the dill, parsley, and cream cheese into the yogurt and garlic mixture. Spread onto a dish and garnish with the mint leaves to serve. Set aside
  3. Red Pepper & Peanut Dip: Place boiled or canned chick peas into a food processor with peanuts or use a blender to form a puree. Then, add the roasted red peppers and blend with pureed chick peas. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix them all. Drizzle olive oil on top to serve. Set aside

Method: Royal Roast Veg

  1. Get the oven to 220˚C/430˚F nice and toasty for the veg.Top and tail the aubergines & courgettes, slice them into rounds and place into a roasting tray that has been lined with foil and has oil in it (coconut or olive oil works here). Take the red onions and quarter them, place them in the tray alongside the red bell peppers. Lastly thinly slice the sweet potato into wide strips and place in the tray. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and sumac on the veg and mix to incorporate. Place in the middle rack of the oven for 30-45 minutes. Check and move the veg around to ensure even caramelisation.

Method: Falafels

  1. Add parsley, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and a healthy pinch each salt and pepper to a food processor and mix to combine.
  2. Add chickpeas and pulse until incorporated but still slightly chunky. You want to maintain a bit of texture.
  3. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add nut meal (or oat flour) and mix again until a loose dough is formed that’s firm enough to be handled. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (I added a touch more salt).
  4. Draw an “x” in the dough to form 4 sections, then use your hands to form into 6-8 small balls
  5. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze for 15 minutes to firm up.
  6. Fry in a small bit of oil in a frying pan for a firm crust on the outside, then place in the oven on a baking sheet for 20-30 minutes to firm up and cook through.

Method: Jeweled Couscous

  1. Whilst the falafels are mingling in the oven get to the couscous.Place the couscous, cumin, paprika and a big pinch of salt into a bowl. Stir to combine, then pour over just enough boiling water to cover the couscous. Cover the bowl and leave for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, cucumber, tomatoes and chilli (I leave the seeds in, but deseed if you prefer). Finely chop the mint and coriander leaves, and the parsley (including the stalks).Mix the couscous up with a fork, then stir in the tomato purée until well coated (I do this with my hands – it’s messy, but fun!). Add all the chopped vegetables, chilli and herbs and mix well. Stir in the oil and the lemon zest and juice along with the pomegranate seeds & raisins, then season to how you like it. Enjoy!

falafels turkish mezzo turkish mezzo turkish meal 3

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