Bordered by eight countries (Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Azebaijani, Iraq and Syria), and three different seas (Mediterranean, Aegean, Black, plus the the Sea of Maramara, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles), there is an enchanting land that combines both modern and old world features: Turkey.
Influenced by both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures, Turkey is a mix of Anatolian, Ottoman and Wester countries traditions which transfer also in their cuisine. Starting this week our new Cook N Bake: Turkish Series will present us some delicious dishes that are the result of a fusion between Ottoman, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Central Asian cuisines.
Although Turkish cuisine changes from North to South and East to West, there are some ingredients that are commong throughout the country: beef, chicken, fish, onion, garlic, lentils, beans, tomatoes, nuts such as pistachios and almonds, parsley, cumin, paprika, thyme and oregano together with many other spices. Fruit is also popular, other than being cheap, both dried and fresh. Yogurt is also extremely present in the Turkish cuisine.
Usually a Turkish meal starts with a soup (çorba), which is also the main dish during the fasting of the month of Ramadan, thus we want to start our Turkish Series with a soup as a first course: Tarhana Soup.
Tarhana Soup gets its name to the powder used to make this soup which is very popular in Anatolia. The powder has a light, pink color and a sour taste. Its color is due to the ingredients used to make this powder obtained by crumbling a fermented mix made of plain yogurt, flour, red pepper vegetables, tomatoes and onions. Eventually the powder is boiled with water, milk, spices and butter.
Tarhana Soup is nutritious, healthy and can even be perfect as a hot, warming breakfast when it’s rainy and cold outside!
2-3 tablespoonful tarhana dough (see below)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp crushed tomato
2-3 cup chicken stock
Crushed red pepper, optional
1 tsp butter
Crumbled Feta cheese to furnish
Place the tarhana and 1/2 cup water in a pot. Leave it alone for 1-2 hours for tarhana to dissolve a bit. Then add in the rest of the ingredients. Cook and stir constantly over medium-low heat. Adjust consistency of the soup to your liking by adding more water if you prefer. Taste for salt.
Place the soup into a bowl, sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese on top and serve while still warm.