In the times of Covid-19, the travellers are longing for new adventures and of course for their favourite dishes. If you have visited Istanbul before and was planning to come again nowadays, it must be even more sorrowful to be away from all the amazing spring weather of the city, cheerful people and busy streets… and surely the food! Hoping that the reunion of Istanbul-lovers is soon to come, we decided to give you some easy Turkish recipes that will liven up your tables and ease your longing.

You can prepare all 5 of them as in one meal, or try to combine each of them with your local delicacies. Each will work!

Anne Köftesi - Mama’s Meatballs

1 pound (400-450 gr) ground beef

1 middle sized onion

A handful of breadcrumbs (or stale bread)

1 cup of parsley

Salt

Black pepper

Cumin

Köfte spice (also known as allspice; can be replaced with a mixture of cinnamon, clove and thyme)

Chop up the onion very thin. Squeeze them to let its bitter juice go away. Put it into a bowl. Add the ground beef and breadcrumbs. If you use stale bread, rest it in water for a while to peel its crusty part and squeeze it till it gets in a dough-like shape. Add it to the ground beef, as well as the spices. If you are missing the köfte spice, don’t worry. The must-haves are salt, black pepper and cumin. Knead everything until it becomes nice and all mixed. Add the chopped parsley as the last ingredient and knead for a short while again. It is nice to use a little bit of a fatty beef for the köfte but if yours is mostly lean, you can add a little bit of olive oil into it. Then shape them in balls, press from the upper part to give them a special “mama style” shape. Leave them to rest for around half an hour and they are ready to cook! You can cook them over a grill, in a pan or oven.

Patlıcan Salatası - Aubergine Salad

4 middle sized aubergines

1-2 tomatoes

3-4 capia peppers

A full cup of parsley

Lemon

Salt

Olive oil

Sumac or red pepper

Wash the aubergines and capia peppers, and dry them well. Pierce them with a fork to have small holes where the steam can escape. Roast them either in oven, on the stove or on your grill. Remember that the time you need for roasting the aubergines is like 40 minutes and this is twice as long as the peppers. So, don’t let the peppers to dry and burn while waiting for the others. Once roasted, put them in a cold pot with lid to peel them easily afterwards. While they are getting cooler, wash and chop the parsley and dice the tomatoes. Be sure that the tomatoes are not very hard. Then take the aubergines and peppers to peel. Cut them into small pieces (but don’t fully mash them). Put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, spices and olive oil. Always use extra virgin olive oil while preparing Turkish mezes and salads, and always be generous about it. Mix them well and let them rest for at least half an hour before serving.

Kabak Mücveri - Zucchini Fritters

3-4 middle sized zucchinis

2 eggs

1/2 cup fresh dill

1/2 cup fresh parsley

4-5 stalks of green onion

1 cup all-purpose flour

Salt

Black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Put grated zucchini in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let drain for 10 minutes. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add chopped dill, parsley and green onions into it as well as the spices. Stir all of it and add the flour. Squeeze the zucchini and place them in the bowl, too. Stir well. If the mixture is too loose and there is too much liquid remaining in the bottom, add more flour. Heat the oil in a large pan. Drop large tablespoons of the zucchini mixture into it. Fry until golden brown edges appear around the fritter, then carefully flip to cook the other side. Transfer them to a plate on which you placed a pepper towel to soak the remaining olive. Then let them get cooler, preferably rest in the fridge over a night before serving.

Cacık – Turkish Style Tzatziki

2 cups (500 gr) plain yogurt

1 cup cold water

2-3 cucumbers

1-2 cloves garlic

Salt

Pepper mint

1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the yogurt in a large bowl. Peel and shred the cucumbers. Crush garlic cloves with salt in a mortar until it forms a paste. Add them into the yogurt with water and dried pepper mint. Stir them well. Garnish it with olive oil and serve it to tiny soup cups with a ladle.

Zerde - Turkish Rice Dessert Flavoured with Saffron

4 cups water

½ cup uncooked rice

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of saffron

¼ tablespoon tumeric

3 tablespoon rose water

2 tablespoon corn-starch

Pine nuts and dried grapes to garnish

Wash the rice in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clean. Put them in a cooking pot. Add water to cover the rice and once boiled, turn the heat down to let the rice cook for 20 minutes. Put 4 cups of water in another pot, add saffron and let it rest for 15 minutes. Once it softens, use a wooden spoon to squeeze the saffron leaves to make them release their colour and taste. Add the cooked rice, sugar and turmeric to the saffron water and bring it to a boil. Add the rose water and cornstarch and go on cooking by continuously stirring for about 15-20 minutes until it thickens like a pudding and reaches a clear yellow colour. Then turn off the heat and split it to small dessert cups. Let it cool in room temperature and then rest it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Garnish it with nuts and dried grapes. You can also use pistachios or pomegranate. That’s it!