Thursday, October 20, 2011
Cappadocian Cave Houses - Turkish Chickpea Stew with Squash, Potatoes and Baharat
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...My father's prediction haunts me, and, despite his admonishments, I must admit I've become a troglodyte. As a young man, the Silver Fox was a spelunker and had heated discussions with my father regarding his predilection for sometimes daring adventures. My daddy was a practical man and couldn't understand why anyone would venture into a cave that it had taken his ancestors millions of years to escape. They never resolved the issue, but had my father been with us in Cappadocia I think he might have cut Bob some slack. Volcanic eruptions here have created an almost lunar landscape that is stark, spare and stunning. The area is also a study in the adaptability of man and his ability to harness the environment that surrounds him. In Cappadocia, the lack of standard building materials caused inhabitants to dig and tunnel into the soft rock and make their homes in the caverns they hollowed out. The homes and underground cities they built still stand and welcome visitors to the area. Most of these homes have been turned into hotels and residents also serve set meals to adventurous tourists who find there way here. We had a lovely meal in one of the caves. Our hosts were a Muslim family and they prepared a typical vegetarian meal for us.
I wanted to share a recipe for a stew that's similar to the one they made for us. It uses an intensely flavored spice mix, called baharat. The mixture is used with regional variations throughout the Middle-East. The Turkish version is unique because it includes dried mint in the spice mixture. It can be found or ordered from any spice emporium, but I included a recipe for those of you who prefer to make your own. The stew itself is an eye-opener and is definitely not for those who prefer more mildly seasoned food. It is easy and inexpensive to make and not much can go wrong with it. You will, however, want to make sure the vegetables are cooked to your liking before serving the dish. View the cook time in the recipe as a suggestion rather than fiat. I like to serve the stew over rice with a cooling dish of raita on the side. Here's the recipe.
Turkish Baharat - A Spice Mix
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1/2 teaspoons ground mint
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in an air-tight container for up to 6 months.
Turkish Chickpea Stew with Squash, Potatoes and Baharat...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Michael Natkin at Herbivoracious
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons Turkish baharat
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
3/4 pound winter squash or pumpkin, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 teaspoon Kosher salt + salt to taste, divided use
1 cup water or vegetable stock
2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
Minced fresh mint or cilantro for garnish
1) Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, sliced garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute over medium-high heat until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more.
2) Add Turkish baharat and, if using, cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until spice mixture is fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes, potatoes, squash and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add water or stock and stir to mix in. Cover pot and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until potatoes and squash are nearly tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3) Mix in chickpeas and simmer until vegetables are fork tender but still retain their shape, about 10 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Garnish with fresh mint or cilantro and serve hot over rice. Yield: 5 servings.
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Two Years Ago Today: Crock-Pot Yellow Pea Soup