|pomegranate trees and their fruits are so beautiful|
to focus this post on a sauce involving pomegranate molasses/nar ekşisi,
and walnuts, which I thought sounded just great. I am totally in love with nar
ekşisi and as I have extolled in previous posts, could just drink this
from the bottle by the spoonful. I also love walnuts as an addition to most
recipes so I thought this was going to be a winner.
|village nar ekşisi made by our neighbour in Assos|
right now, here in Turkey, it’s the beginning of the pomegranate season so we
are seeing all the fruit juice guys in the street offering a glass of
freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice for 1 TL per glass. Well, this is in the
traditional Eminönü district of Istanbul. I actually recommend it mixed
with the juice of one orange which dilutes that particularly tart nar
taste. It may then go up to 2 TL per glass.
We are in
our village house in Assos as I write. It’s almost the end of the first day of
Bayramı, the 4-day religious holiday which involves
families sacrificing rams in memory of Abraham, and then distributing the meat
amongst neighbours and the poor.
amongst the ruins in the morning.
homemade nar ekşisi which the village women usually make and sell from their
stalls lining the main street of the village.
neighbours were totally involved with the sheep their menfolk had just killed and the subsequent
cutting up of the meat which appeared to be the task of the women. Without
fail, they all offered me either a taste or the delivery of a chunk of freshly
cut lamb. Well, I delicately refused and they accepted that.
that my opposite neighbour Ayşe Hanım said if you really want
it, let’s go down to the stall and I will give it to you. We went there – 2 minutes
down our little street – and she said but please first try it. She got a spoon
from her sister-in-law in the neighbouring house and I did. It’s more than all
right but still not as good as her very own pomegranate molasses which she said
had run out. But anyway I bought a bottle for 7 TL. It is completely natural/doğal,
made by other local village women, and, she says, will keep for up to
a year and you don’t necessarily have to keep it in the fridge.
it was because I was dying to make a special sauce suitable for chicken but, I
think, probably much better with duck breasts with the skin on. Here in Turkey
or at least in Istanbul, duck is hardly available. And somehow, chicken parts
with the skin on seem to have disappeared. So there I was with 2 skinless
recipe comes from a fabulous cookbook writen by that guru of Middle Eastern
cooking, Claudia Roden. This is the result of an immense project that she began
more than 16 years ago and is called ‘The Book of Jewish Food’.
Jewish but have always been extremely interested in Jewish history,
traditions, literature and now Jewish cooking. If you are like me and
similarly interested, then this is the book to buy: it is a treasure. Claudia
Roden’s style, the depth of her research and her warm intelligent approach to
the whole project will surely endear her to your heart as it has mine. I also
feel a strong connection because my mother was born in Port Said, Egypt so all
the references to Cairo where Claudia was born, and Alex which my mother would
always talk about, ring a strong chord with me. The Egypt that she knew was a
French-speaking, cosmopolitan Mediterranean country composed of Jews, Copts,
Armenians, Syrian Christians, Maltese, Greeks and Italians as well as British and
French expatriates. Can you imagine the fabulous mélange? The impact it had on me at age 4 when my
mother and I visited our family is indelibly imprinted in my childhood memories. The family
on my mother’s side all speak French.
Suez, when the worlds of my own grandparents also ended. The fact that I now
live in Istanbul somehow continues this vastly interesting and colourful strand
of our family. As I said, we are not
Jewish but here in Istanbul, we have Jewish friends. As a result of delving
into this fabulous cookbook, I can’t wait to ask them questions about their
pasts and culinary heritage.
goes like this:
a large frying pan, heat the oil and put the duck breasts skin side down. Sauté
gently for 5 minutes, until they release some of their fat. Then add the onion
and fry very gently until soft, stirring occasionally, and sprinkling with salt
and pepper. Turn the duck breasts over when they are brown on the skin side and
turn them again when the flesh is lightly coloured. Remove when they are still
underdone and set aside.
off the duck fat and return the onions to the frying pan. Add the pomegranate
molasses and walnuts and about 100ml/4fl oz of water and stir very well. Add
sugar to taste and return the duck breasts to the pan. Simmer in the sauce
until they are done.
with beetroot stalks sautéed in olive oil and garlic, and a bulgur pilaf.
Because my chicken breasts didn’t have the skin, I actually cooked them separatedly after having marinated them in olive oil and lemon juice. Then I added them to the pomegranate-walnut sauce for the final cooking but I must confess, the taste didn’t permeate as much as I would have liked.