Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Cooking in 2012!

Happy New Year!  I don’t have any profound new year’s reflections, but here is another taste of Turkey for you. 

Part of the fun of living here is learning how to cook Turkish food.  I view cooking as a creative adventure, and that’s particularly true here since local food is delicious, but no one uses recipes. I use a combination of cooking websites, advice from Turkish friends, and trial and error in my own kitchen to figure out how to make local dishes. 

What has been your experience learning to cook national or ethnic foods?

Here is one of our family’s favorite Turkish recipes. I've made it many times over the years, but last week I finally hit upon a version I liked.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Biber Dolması
Photo from


10-12 medium sized bell peppers
½ lb. ground beef (250 gr.)
1 ¼ cup uncooked rice
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, grated*
Heaping ½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh dill (1 tsp. dry)
2 TBSP olive oil
1 scant tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar

3 cups of water
1 TBSP red pepper paste (Use tomato paste if pepper paste is unavailable.)
1 TBSP tomato paste
½ tsp. salt
2 dashes olive oil


1.      Wash the peppers, cut the tops off carefully, and remove the seeds.

2.      Put the ground beef, rice, onion, parsley, dill, olive oil, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half, and grate them.  (*Place a grater over your mixing bowl, and put each tomato half with the cut side down on it. Grate until all you have left in your hand is tomato skin, which you can throw away.) Mix until well combined.

3.      Place the leftover parsley and dill stems in the bottom of a lidded Dutch oven.  Stuff each pepper about ¾ full with the meat and rice.  Place the peppers upright on top of the parsley stems, so that they fit snugly in the pot.  (Add a random squash or tomato if you need to fill space so the peppers stand upright.)

4.      Whisk together 3 cups of water, pepper paste, tomato paste, salt and olive oil.   Pour a spoonful or so of the liquid into each pepper, and then pour the rest carefully into the bottom of the pot.  (Optional: Take a tomato, and cut in half, then cut each half into 6 pieces.  Put a piece of tomato on the top of each pepper.)

5.      Cover the pot with the lid, and cook over medium heat until the liquid comes to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer for 55 minutes.  Allow to stand about 15 minutes without opening the pot before serving.

Spoon some of the unabsorbed liquid over each pepper as you serve it, and garnish with yogurt.


us5 said...

yum! this looks so good...and i can get almost all the ingredients! we'll have to try this soon - if i can find 5 peppers at one time. ;)

Ilona Hadinger said...

I grew up eating Hungarian stuffed peppers. Then in Mexico I fell in love with their version called Chiles Rellenos. (a bit on the spicy side since they use a different type of pepper).
So I loved reading this post and the recipe for Turkish stuffed peppers. I bit different than both, but more similar to the Hungarian variety my mom is known for.
Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!

Alida said...

I love cooking new foods and learning about food in the different countries we have lived in or visited.

On New Year's Eve we had a Russian style was fun!

Your peppers look awesome!

OliveTree said...

Hi Ilona, I love chiles rellenos and think that Mexicans win the prize for having so many different kinds.

Russian feast sounds fun, Alida.

And Us5, are peppers really that hard to come by in the Philippines??? I don't know how easy I have it, I guess...;-)

Choate Family said...

My favorite part about cooking local foods is the relationship building that happens while you learn! Plus, the food here is YUMMY :-)