Meals like this are very common here and belong to the type called tencere yemeğı or tray/pan dishes where everything is cooked together: vegetables, meat and a grain, usually rice, sometimes bulgur: tasty, practical and eminently suitable for family meals.
They are above all seasonal so right now is the time for leeks. The other big time winter veg of choice is spinach while the summer equivalent is kıymalı kabak or with courgettes. I love all of them and make them regularly according to season.
These dishes are not demanding, no special cooking equipment or techniques required. To continue with the pluses, they are quick to make and will rest quietly while you’re busy with something else, or on the side till required. Because they use seasonal vegetables, they are very economical as well.
The amount of mince you use is up to you: less than my stipulated 200g is equally fine. These meals stretch if you have extra people round your table: make a pilaf on the side and everybody will be satisfied.
Not dinner party fare, but a healthy, sustaining weekday night supper dish for the family is how I would describe it.
When you are out and about in the city especially in the more traditional areas, you will see tencere yemeği on display everywhere around lunchtime and what a tempting sight they are! My only grouse if I can call it that, is that very often the food will be lukewarm as it may have been sitting there a whilePersonally I like my food to be piping hot when it’s served but then that’s an English thing. Turks don’t seem to mind.
Personally I like my food to be piping hot when it’s served but then that’s an English thing. Turks don’t seem to mind.
A quick word about mincemeat: what you should do, especially if you live here where we use a lot of mince, is buy it by the kilo and get the butcher to divide it into 5 rulo or lots of 200g each. Use one and freeze the rest till the next time.
My own butcher in Feneryolu does such a beautifully neat job of this: I always think of him with longing when I am in the village, where the butcher’s idea of a kilo of mince is to haul out half a cow from the depths of his cavernous fridge! Yes he will mince it but his idea of packaging is very rough and ready.
- Gently heat the cooking oil or olive oil in a large open pan and add the chopped onion. Cook till softened and then add the mince and continue cooking over a low heat till cooked. Add the sliced leeks and carrots plus 1 cup hot water and the tomato paste (it helps if you dilute the paste in a little of the water first and then add it to the main dish). Check the water during cooking to make sure the dish remains moist. Once the liquid is boiling, add the rice or bulgur. Season to taste. Cover and continue to cook over a low heat. About 50 minutes.
- NB make sure you check that both the carrot and the bulgur are nice and soft before you turn off the heat. The dish can be ruined by either of these not being cooked enough.
- Serve hot with plain yogurt either on top or on the side, if desired.