Classical Turkish Cooking: Traditional Turkish Food for the American Kitchen

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Turkish food ranks high among the world's great cuisines. Its taste and depth place it with French and Chinese; its simplicity and healthfulness rank it number one. Developed by Turkish peasants for whom eating was obviously a great pleasure, Turkish cooking evolved to include the sophisticated "palace" cooking of Istanbul. It remains, however, a simple cuisine based on fragrant Mediterranean ingredients combined in exciting and unexpected ways.

Ayla Algar, a Turkish-born ...

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Classical Turkish Cooking: Traditional Turkish Food for the America

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Overview

Turkish food ranks high among the world's great cuisines. Its taste and depth place it with French and Chinese; its simplicity and healthfulness rank it number one. Developed by Turkish peasants for whom eating was obviously a great pleasure, Turkish cooking evolved to include the sophisticated "palace" cooking of Istanbul. It remains, however, a simple cuisine based on fragrant Mediterranean ingredients combined in exciting and unexpected ways.

Ayla Algar, a Turkish-born lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, provides American cooks with 175 recipes for this vibrant and tasty food, presented against the rich and fascinating backdrop of Turkish history and culture. Tempting recipes for kebabs, pilafs meze (appetizers), dolmas (those delicious stuffed vegetables or vine leaves), soups, fish, manti and other pasta dishes, lamb, poultry, yogurt, bread, baklava and other traditional sweets are introduced here to American cooks in accessible form, easy for any home cook to make. With its emphasis on grains, vegetables, fruits, olive oil and other healthy foods, Turkish cooking puts a new spin on familiar ingredients and offers culinary adventure coupled with a satisfying and delicious diet.

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Editorial Reviews

Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Classical Turkish Cooking . . . is a splendid introduction to a cuisine that straddles Europe and Asia, drawing on East and West alike. Savory rice pilafs, stuffed vegetables and rolled grape leaves, crisp salads dressed with yogurt and more complex savory pies and turnovers, along with syrupy Middle Eastern sweets made with rosewater, apricots, figs and walnuts, are among delicious offerings. —New York Times
Joyce Goldstein
The recipes [in Classical Turkish Cooking] are very appealing to the contemporary cook, yet have a slightly exotic touch. Now that we have accepted risotto, pilaf can't be far behind in capturing our tastebuds. The book is also a bonanza for vegetarians.
George Lang
The foods of the classical Turkish kitchen seem closer to us than many of the experimental dishes of our time, and if you cook Roasted Eggplant and Chili Salad or the delicious Lamb Chops with Molasses-Glazed Chestnuts, I think you'll agree with me.
Anne Mendelson
Liberally spiced with historical allusions, [ Classical Turkish Cooking] takes you into a world that prized colors and fragrant essences like rubies. . . . One can only wish that more cookbook writers were as charged with purposeful conviction as Algar. —Los Angeles Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This compendium of Turkish fare does much to advance Algar's ( The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking ) theory that ``it is the imaginative combination of carefully cooked ingredients, however humble they may be, that creates good taste.'' While her writing is at times stiltingly formal, the recipes are anything but. Called traditional, they're in fact truly contemporary: full in flavor, redolent of fresh herbs and crushed spices and filled with healthful vegetables and grains. At their best, these dishes successfully combine present-day foodstuffs and concepts with classic Turkish antecedents, as seen in roasted eggplant and chili salad, mussel brochettes with walnut taratorsic and zucchini cakes with green onions, cheese, and herbs. Also featured are delicious Turkish condiments--e.g., sun-cooked tomato paste and sun-cooked purple plum marmelade--as well as desserts (poached dried figs stuffed with walnuts; chilled summer fruit in rose petal-infused syrup). Mail-order ingredient sources would have broadened the book's appeal. Algar is the Andrew Mellon Lecturer in Turkish at the University of California at Berkeley. (Oct.)
Library Journal
An excellent introduction to a relatively unknown cuisine. The Turkish culinary tradition is of course related to other Mideastern cultures, but such dishes as a flavorful Chicken in Paprika-Laced Walnut Sauce or an assertive Smoked Eggplant Salad with Jalapenos demonstrate the diversity and uniqueness of the food. Algar, a Berkeley professor and food writer, provides knowledgeable commentary on the recipes, cuisine, and country, and few of the dishes require exotic ingredients or techniques. For most collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060163174
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1991
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayla Algar, the Mellon Lecturer in Turkish at the University of California, Berkeley, was born and raised in Turkey and visits there often. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle and is the author of The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, published in England. Her academic background and her lively and articulate interest in the culinary arts of her native land make her extraordinarily well qualified to write on this venerable and delicious cuisine.

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Read an Excerpt

Lemony Chicken and Okra

(Pilicli Bamya)

4 Servings

One small chicken, about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds, cut into serving pieces
Black peppercorns
1 1/2 pounds okra
1/2 cup wine vinegar
Salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
3 tender long green peppers left whole, or 2 other semi-hot peppers, tops and seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 small sprigs thyme
3 sprigs oregano
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Put the chicken back and neck in a pan with 2 cups water and a few peppercorns and simmer 45 minutes. Strain and reserve stock.

Pare around the conical tops of the okra. Place in a bowl with the vinegar, sprinkle with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a heavy pan large enough to accommodate the chicken and okra. Cook the onions until limp. Remove from the pan and sauté the chicken pieces until golden on all sides, about 4 minutes,

Place the cooked onions, okra, tomatoes, and green peppers over the chicken pieces. Sprinkle all with some salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. Place the herb sprigs over the top, add 1 1/2 cups reserved chicken stock and the lemon juice; cover and simmer 40 or 50 minutes, or until okra is tender. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.


Chick-pea Salad with
Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette

(Nohut Salatasi)

4 Servings

1 cup dried chick-peas, soaked overnight, or 2 1/2 cups drained canned chick-peas
1 1/2cups finely diced red onion

Drain chick-peas and cook in water to cover until tender, about 2 hours or a little longer. Plunge them into cold water, then rub them between fingers to remove the skins. Rinse and drain. Toss in a bowl with onions.

Garlic-Cumin
Vinaigrette

About 6 tablespoons fine olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed (page 286)
1 red jalapeño, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped mixed herbs: cilantro, thyme, mint, tarragon, parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely crushed cumin seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette, whisk olive oil with garlic, jalapeño, herbs, vinegar or lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour over the salad and mix thoroughly. Adjust with salt and vinegar, let stand 30 minutes or longer, and serve at room temperature.

Classical Turkish Cooking. Copyright © by Ayla Algar. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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