Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cooking Meze in Bodrum, Turkey

John and I spent March 2010 traveling along the coast of Turkey enjoying the Turkish cuisine, which included plenty of fresh fish and vegetables. We inquired about cooking classes at our hotels. The answer was the same, “No, but we are thinking about it.” In Bodrum we posed the same question at the Tourist Office. They suggested we check with Komodor Meze Evi Restaurant where they were sure the owners would show us how to prepare some local favorites.

Kaan, the Front Office Manager of the Hotel Divan Bodrum, called the restaurant, explained what we wanted to do, and arranged a cooking experience at 2:30 the next day. Manolya, the owner, explained, “We cater to the local clientele and they often pitch in to help. We will let anyone help and watch preparations but it has to be at a time we pick because we are too busy during meal times.”

Mezes are Turkish appetizers made up of a selection of small cold and hot dishes. Executive Chef Ibraham showed us how to make several mezes. The chosen dishes are placed in the center of the table and shared creating a sociable dining environment. Even though mezes are considered appetizers we found that sharing several makes a great meal.

One of the dishes we learned to make was Irmik Helvas. Manolya explained, “This is a dish we make for religious holidays and take to neighbors when there is a death or sickness in the family. The ingredients are available in everyone’s kitchen.” We also helped to prepare Cuttlefish in Ink, a favorite of the local fishermen, and, my personal favorite, Havuc Tarator made from carrots. Most meze dishes cost about $3 each but the fish mezes are usually a little bit more. Our lunch with cooking instructions cost $12. The restaurant is located at Umurca mah, Dervis Gorgun Cad. No. 23/C in Bodrum (tele: 02 52 313 75 55).

Irmik Helvas
Peeling from one orange
4 cups water
1 1/ 3 cups sugar
3 /4 cups margarine
2 cups semolina
1 tsp vanilla
1/ 4 cup finely chopped walnut
1/ 8 cup sesame seeds

Add orange peel to water. Boil for 30 minutes, remove from heat, and discard orange peel, then add sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside. In a deep pan melt margarine. Add semolina. Stir until it becomes light brown. Add sugar water. Stir and simmer 10 minutes. Add vanilla. Stir. Garnish the top with walnuts and seeds.

Cuttlefish in Ink
2 lbs cuttlefish with ink cut into 1-inch pieces (Ask the provider to include the ink.
It is often discarded.)
Water as needed
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced
Juice of one lemon

Place cuttlefish with ink in pot. Cover with water. Add sugar, salt, and oil. Boil until the cuttlefish is tender. Add garlic and lemon juice. Boil for 5 minutes. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes.

Havuc Tarator
6 -7 carrots – peeled and grated
2-3 tbsp olive oil
3-5 cloves of chopped garlic
1 salt to taste
1/ 4 cup Turkish-style yogurt (It can be made by straining yogurt through
cheesecloth removing as much water as possible. Use the solid part.)
4 oz chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon red chili flakes (dill and parsley can be used)

Add carrots and oil in a wok pan. Cook until the carrots are soft. Add garlic and salt. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Put it in a bowl and let it cool. When cold sprinkle walnuts and chili flakes on top and it is ready to serve.

1 comment:

  1. What a great experience. I try and take a cooking class wherever I travel. Right now I am looking for one in Malacca, but no luck yet. I'm hoping my hotel will be able to help me once I get there.