I spent quite a long time with a family in Istanbul and the husband was raised in Hatay. His parents would often come over and bring a steaming casserole dish with them, all ready to be placed straight on the table.
One of the most memorable meals they brought was this dish. I was bowled over how simple it seemed and yet how incredibly tasty. Not only that, but it is brimming in goodness.
AN ANTAKYAN SPECIALITY
This dish hails from Antakya, the far east of Turkey on the Syrian border. It is one of the region’s signature dishes, along with künefe, the fabulous sweet shredded pastry dessert with hot melted cheese .
A VARIETY OF VEGETABLES CAN BE USED
Many vegetables can be substituted in this casserole. One of my favourites is just using spinach roots and spinach stems. Other options include kale, silver beet/chard, pumpkin, broad beans or zucchini.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 150g cubed lamb meat (optional)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped finely
- 250g peeled and chopped zucchini
- 200g cooked chickpeas
- 250g spinach roots and stems washed very carefully
- 1 cup beaten yoghurt
- 2 tsp dried mint
- 1 to 2 tsp pul biber (red pepper flakes)
- ½ cup water
- Salt and Pepper
- Heat the oil in a medium sized casserole dish
- Add the onion and fry for 2 minutes if adding meat. If not, fry for 5 minutes.
- Add lamb and fry for 5 minutes, turning to colour
- Add zucchini and chickpeas and fry for 2 minutes
- Add water and season to taste with salt and pepper
- Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes
- Add the spinach stems and roots and once bubbling again, give them 6 minutes simmering
- Turn off the heat and take a ladle of juice from the pan and add it to the beaten yoghurt
- Mix the yoghurt sauce well and slowly add it to the pan
- Turn the heat on again and very gently warm it up.
- Test the seasoning and then add the dried mint and pul biber.
If you would like to see a few more spinach stems recipes, please go here