'It's one of those shared dishes that brings people closer,' says Musa Dağdeviren
Our cookbook of the week is The Turkish Cookbook by Istanbul-based chef and restaurateur Musa Dağdeviren. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with its author.
Ekmek dolmasi (stuffed bread) is a favourite in the Aegean Region of Western Turkey. The celebratory dish is popular year-round, says Musa Dağdeviren, but especially beloved during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan: “It goes really well with the other traditional staples of the iftar table like soup, pickles, salad and dessert.” (The iftar is the evening meal, which breaks the fast from sunrise to sunset.)
Typically served in a round, whole wheat loaf of bread weighing roughly two to three kilograms (4 to 7 pounds), ekmek dolmasi takes pride of place at iftar feasts. “The dish is placed in the middle of the table and everyone digs in,” adds Dağdeviren. “It’s one of those shared dishes that brings people closer.”
Region: Aydın and Manisa, Aegean Region
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
4 (8-cm/3-inch) round loaves of whole wheat bread, tops cut off and reserved, hollowed out, the removed bread crumbed and dried
1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 (25-cm/10-inch) olive tree twigs
Generous 2 cups (500 mL) lamb or veal stock
For the stuffing:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 (240 g/2 1/2 cups) medium onions, finely sliced
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) lamb, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely sliced
1 tsp tomato paste
1 cup (100 g) unsalted green olives, seeded, quartered
1 cup (100 g) walnuts, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley,finely sliced
4 fresh mint sprigs, finely sliced
2 fresh basil sprigs, finely sliced
2 dill sprigs, finely sliced
For the sauce:
1 1/4 cups (250 g) Greek yogurt
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, finely sliced
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F).
To make the stuffing: Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the lamb and cook for 15 minutes. Add the scallions, tomato paste, green olives, walnuts, dried chilli flakes, black pepper and salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the reserved breadcrumbs and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, fresh mint, fresh basil and dill and mix.
Mix olive oil and garlic in a bowl, then liberally massage the insides and crust of the loaf shells with the mixture. Put the loaves on a baking sheet and bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes, until crisp. Remove from the oven, then tightly pack with the stuffing mixture and put the loaf lids on top.
Put the olive twigs into the bottom of a large saucepan and put the stuffed loaves on top. Pour in the stock and cook over low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the pan lid every 10 minutes and ladle some of the stock over the loaves.
To make the sauce: Mix the yogurt, garlic, parsley and salt in a bowl.
Place the stuffed loaves on a large serving platter, pour over the remaining stock and then the yogurt sauce.
Adapted from The Turkish Cookbook by Musa Dağdeviren (Phaidon, $59.95, April 1, 2019)
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