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A Heartwarming Soup for Cool Nights: Yayla Çorbası

yayla corbasiWe know the temperatures in Bodrum still permit for swimming, but sometimes those evening breezes off the sea can be chilly!  Warm up your skin and soul with this traditional Turkish soup.

History:

Yayla Çorbası, also known as Yogurt Soup, is a thick and hearty traditional Turkish soup from the cool and rainy northern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name, reflective of the soups origins, is derived from “yaylalar”, or the high mountain meadows of that region, which is also famed for the quality of it’s dairy products.  The main ingredients – yogurt, flour, rice, egg yolk, and mint – are all easily-found staples of Black Sea and Anatolian cuisine.  As with most Turkish dishes, recipes have been passed down from mother to daughter and neighbor to neighbor over the centuries, resulting in great variation region to region and kitchen to kitchen.  Turkish families often serve this soup in winter, when the Black Sea drizzle chills residents to the bones, or when someone is fighting a cold.  If you’re shivering when the suns dips down before you have time to fully dry off from a day’s swim, then this is the perfect soup to try at home!

Recipe:

You will need: IMG_2532

  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • White or black pepper to taste
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T dried mint

Directions:

  1. First, measure out the rice and put it in a covered soup pot with a pinch of salt and 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until the rice is soft. If you have boiled chicken legs/thighs (see “variations” below) then you can replace the water with the chicken stock.
  2. Measure one cup of yogurt (preferably whole) into a bowl. Whisk until the texture is completely even.
  3. Next, mix in the flour and beat briskly.  IMG_2534
  4. Once the flour and yogurt are amalgamated, beat in the egg yolk.  Keep beating until the mixture has a silky smooth texture.
  5.  Once the rice is cooked, take one ladle of hot water from the pot of rice and gently stir it into the yogurt mixture to raise the temperature.  If you skip this step, your yogurt might separate when you pour it in the hot broth. IMG_2547
  6. Gradually pour the yogurt mixture into the soup pot with the rice, whisking all the while. IMG_2550IMG_2549IMG_2551
  7. Add salt and pepper.
  8. Continue whisking until the mixture simmers. Take it off the heat before it boils.IMG_2553
  9. Meanwhile, heat the butter and dried mint in a saucepan.  Once this boils, stir it into the soup and serve!IMG_2555

IMG_2556

Variations:

  • IMG_2531Add chicken: Before cooking the soup, boil 1-2 chicken thighs and several bay leaves in water until the meat is tender and falls off the bone.  De-skin, de-bone, and add to the soup when finished. For a complete recipe that incorporates chicken, see this recipe on food.com.  While definitely not traditional, you can also add Turkey. Simply Recipes has an adapted recipe with Turkey and chickpeas here.
  • Add chickpeas: cook chickpeas beforehand, or add drained canned chickpeas to the soup and cook together for the last 3 minutes.
  • Substitute rice out for buckwheat.  Buckwheat provides a nutty flavor and is lower in calories and starch but higher in fiber and protein. This recipe substitutes rice for cracked wheat.
  • Top with mint butter, savory sumac, urfa isot (dark roasted pepper), paprika, thyme or cayenne pepper to suit your taste.
  • There are as many variations as households in Turkey! Try a few more recipes here, here and here.

Terrified of trying Turish cooking on your own?  There are plenty of great cooking classes around Istanbul and the Izmir Peninsula.  If you’re vacationing at Çeşme or Izmir, we encourage you to try out Babushka Alaçatı!

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Turkey’s City Street Food

If you’ve been around the beach, you know the basics (or can find them here: Turkey’s Best Beach Food): gözleme, ayran, stuffed mussles, melon ice cream bowls, steamed corn, fresh fish.  But what can you eat when you hit Turkey’s urban streets?  Here are some of the must-try simple street snacks (or full meals) you’ll find in almost every urban center:

19555587985_89648f59d8_zBreakfast:

Head to the nearest wheeled glass cart labeled “halk ekmek” (“people’s bread”) or the small shop by the bus stop and grab a few simit for a simple start to the day. At first glance a simit may look a bit like a bagel covered in sesame seeds.  Cracked open it can be eaten with soft spread cheese.

3077558355_04f058d2be_mTired of simit?  Ask for a poğaça instead.  At 2/1 lira they’re still quite cheap, and come with a variety of savory stuffings  like olive (zeytin), cheese (peynir), or spicy sausage (sucuk).

salepFinish off your breakfast with a glass of strong Turkish tea or salepa traditional drink made with powdered orchid root and flavoured with cinnamon.




Lunch/Quick Dinner/Midnight Snacks

Turkey’s most popular savory street food is the doner kebab (here known as durum) with long strips of lamp of chicken rolled in flatbread with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and the occasional french fry (curious about what defines a kebab? read our post here). But if you only know the doner… you’ve barely dabbled in Turkish street tastes!

7793420340_cf56c7e319_zOnly got 10 minutes for lunch? One of Turkey’s most popular “fast foods” is lahmacun, a flatbread topped and backed with minced meat and a garlic-tomato paste, almost always paired with a cool glass of ayran (salty yogurt).  Almost any neighborhood will have a lunch joint with 2 lahmacun + ayran lunch specials for about 5 lira.  Don’t forget a squeeze of lemon!

tantuni

If you’re seriously on the run, grab a tantuni or “Turkish burrito”.  Tantuni are wraps composed of ground meat cooked on a wide metal plate with spices and oil then rolled up with slices of onion, tomato, cilantro and lettuce.  Take it with a hot green pepper if you can handle extra-spicy.

Hit by 3 am hunger pains? Head for a kokoreç stand.  While chopped sheep intestines might not sound appealing during the day, this savory, spicy and complex flavoured sandwich is sure to satisfy your midnight cravings.

19271026726_4d83c7aa55_zLooking for something a little more sophisticated?  Pideoften nicknamed “the Turkish pizza” is a boat-shaped oven-baked bread topped with everything from spinach and feta to chicken and tomatoes to ground beef and cheese. Expect fresh bread hot out of the oven, with the juices from the toppings just starting to sink into the dough. Ask for a side of tomatoes and sliced cucumbers with a sprinkling of lemon.

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Vegetarian? No worries. bulgar-based Çiğ köfte is savory, sometimes spicey, and always delicious, whether eaten alone or in a wrap. Each region has it’s own recipe for Çiğ köfte though, as a rule, the ingredients include and bulgur, chopped cilantro, onion, tomato paste, spices, crushed garlic and salt.  Again, everything is better with a slice of lemon!

Snacks

2037583738_eb5fcd9dfb_zIn winter warm your hands and your soul with a cup full of hot roasted chestnuts (kestane) and served in a paper cone for 2-5 lira per portion.

Don’t forget that Turkey has great regional varieties in cuisine – while in Kayseri you’ll have to try the kayseri mantisi; in Bursa, iskender kebab, and in testi kebab in Cappadocia.

Hungry for more? We know you are… Check out these pages extensively covering Istanbul’s street food scene, and share with us you favorite street foods from around the country.

World’s Best Street Food: Istanbul Edition

Beyond the Doner: Real Turkish Food

IstanbulEats.com

Culinary Back Streets: Istanbul’s Best Street Foods

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