Umut’s mother came to visit and I was quite surprised to see her carrying two suitcases for such a short stay. In disbelief, the one suitcase was filled with food…that she’d prepared! Besides what I’ll explain below in detail, there was also olive oil and olives from Izmir, and homemade pumpkin dessert, cookies and butter.

With Umut’s help translating, she explained that traditionally turkish women are typically housewives and stay-at-home mother’s and that they all know how to make the basics: börek, rolled stuffed grape leaves, stuffed dried eggplant, and yogurt – and they make it often.

 

borek

 

BÖREK
Baked filled pastries made with phyllo dough filled with cheese, spinach or minced meat and potatoes. When not enjoying Sucuklu Yumurta, this is enjoyed for breakfast.

 

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STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES
Sarma, meaning ‘wrapping’ in Turkish, is a rolled stuffed grape leaf. Close in meaning and similar to ‘dolma’ which implies a vegetable. It was explained to me that these two words are often conflicted in the Turkish language.

Over the Summer near her home in Zonguldak, she went to a vineyard and picked the grape leaves, which she then brought home to pickle and can. Good for months, they’re available to make stuffed grape leaves whenever she desires.

 

STUFFED DRIED EGGPLANT
Kuru patlıcan dolması translates to stuffed dried eggplant. The term dolma implying a stuffed vegetable.

Once again with Umut’s help translating, she shared the process behind making these:
In the Summer, she goes to the market and buys bags of eggplants. She removes the inside (of the eggplants) and uses it as a snack – cooking it with salt, onion and tomato and enjoying it with yogurt and peppers.

Taking the “shells” of the eggplant, she strings them on ropes and hangs them outside for 10 days. There’s a saying that goes back for at least 100 years, “If the moon is dark keep away, and if the moon is bright it’s okay”. After 10 days in the Summer sun she keeps them hanging in her kitchen ready to use at a moment’s notice. She said she currently has two strings hanging with at least 20-30 eggplants on each one.

When ready to make, she cooks them to soften and stuffs them with rice. and is topped with a piece of carrot or tomato for show. It’s then placed in the fridge until ready to serve (cold).

 

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Pictured are strings of eggplants and peppers hanging in her kitchen, waiting to be used.