Cooking Turkish Food in Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

As I am writing this, I am sitting in Turkey, in the midst of my current travelling adventure. Woo! As you may know from previous posts, I like to document the foods I eat when I travel around the world. This time, however, I managed to do one better – I found a Turkish cooking class in Istanbul that would accommodate vegetarians – Cooking Alaturka. Now, if you intend to go to Istanbul in the vague or near future and enjoy cooking I highly recommend this class. The instructor is extremely knowledgeable, the chef is incredible and hilarious, and no matter how good a cook you are, you will pick up some new tricks. Now, the class of six of us, plus the experts teaching us, made six recipes: hot yogurt soup, beans cooked in olive oil with tomatoes, zucchini pancakes, stuffed eggplant, bulgar pilaf, and stuffed dried figs.  No, I’m not going to stick all six on this blog, that would be ridiculous. If you want all six, you will have to take the class yourself. However, this is one of the most straight-forward recipes, and Eveline, the instructor, assured us the method could be adapted for other veggies as well.

Green Runner beans cooked in olive oil
1/2 pound runner beans or green beans, trimmed and cut in two if very long
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water or so

Prep all the veggies first. Then assemble them in a saucepan. First, put a layer of the onions-tomatoes-and garlic, then a layer of the beans, then an onion-tomato layer, then more beans, then the last of the onions-tomatoes-garlic. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, lemon juice, salt. Taste to make sure you like the balance of ingredients. then add the water and whisk it in.
beans mid-assembly
Add the liquid mixture, which should almost, but not quite cover the veggies. Cover and cook on medium-low heat until softened, maybe 20-30 minutes (check as I’m not sure about the timing). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool in the liquid. Fish out the veggies and serve when at room temperature.

Turkish beans

The result – extremely tasty. I’ve always liked Turkish foods, but this trip has made me completely and utterly love them. This veggie recipe is tasty and light, and (if I hadn’t had it as part of a 4-course meal) would make a great meal with some bread and cheese. I had this with a Turkish rose – which was extremely good, albeit less fruity than roses that I’m used to. Song of the Week: Istanbul, Not Constantinople, by They Might Be Giants. Very nearly every time I mentioned going to Istanbul to my parents, they referenced this song. Which is a fun and cute regardless and I was definitely humming it to myself walking around the city so it is nothing if not appropriate for this week.

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