Before I arrived in Istanbul, I expected Turkish cuisine to be more Middle Eastern than it is, envisioning fallafel, houmous, roasting lamb legs, and scents of spice. Arriving from Thailand via Cambodia having spent six months having my tastebuds tantalised with every meal, the first few months in Turkey I was decidedly underwhelmed. It took a while to realise that Turkish food isn’t about spices competing for attention, that I wouldn’t find that Egyptian-esque Middle Eastern flavour I was looking for. Instead I’d find simpler fare, using produce of the season; food designed to showcase the ingredients of that dish, where the flavour comes from the staples of the dish not the extras.
What makes Turkish food so unique is not the combination of flavours or the exoticness of dishes, but the produce itself. Everything is made using fresh, seasonal food, (we have a season for fish, M – you know that right? Never eat fish in summer!) and the produce is accented, not flavoured, by accompanying herbs and spice. Meals are formed by what’s the greengrocers are selling and out of season veg is really hard to get. Right now, it’s new potatoe season and having left G to shop alone at the bazzar, our kitchen contains five kilos of the spuds! This dish isn’t Turkish or exotic at all but is an easy way to use a lot of potatoes and tastes great. You can add in as much as you want, but we like it like this – sometimes with fresh mint – to let the potatoes true flavour shine through.
A not so Turkish salad
Chop new potatoes into quarters and boil until cooked. While still warm stir through plain yoghurt (enough to cover potatoes) and loosen with olive oil. In the same pan, quickly fry chopped mushrooms and garlic w/ olive oil and add to potatoe/yoghurt mixture. Mix through with chopped parsley, salt pepper to taste and fresh mint, if using. Eat warm, or at room temperature.
(This recipe is being added to Recipe Shed over at Reluctant House Dad’s for “5 ingredients or less” ‘cos the mint is optional!)