A Life in Travel

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A Complete Turkish Dinner from the Kutays

A Complete Turkish Dinner from the Kutays
My father came to the US as a student enrolled at Berkeley in 1939 and met my mother when she was working in a soda fountain. They married, moved to Turkey where she learned to speak Turkish and cook Turkish cuisine. They moved back to Los Angeles where I was born and raised on delicious Turksih dishes all my life. Three common delicious dishes that were always on the table in Istanbul when we visited relatives, and frequently served at home in California are below.
Kurt Kutay exploring eateries of Istanbul.
When my sister learned to make the walnut chicken dish, she made me--her younger brother--hand squeeze the oil out of the walnuts to drizzle over the dish before serving. These recipies are delicious and easy to make for a complete and authentic Turkish dinner, especially because all three dishes can be served at room temperature. 
Walnut Chicken
One whole roasted chicken or 6-8 roasted chicken breasts – skin removed and shredded.
Walnut Sauce for Chicken
¼ c (ml) walnut oil
1 oz unsalted butter
1 red onion finely diced
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp hot paprika
2 slices stale sourdough bread –crusts removed
Chicken stock
1/3 lb walnuts
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
Heat the ¼ c walnut oil and 2 tsps sweet paprika in a pan until just warm. Remove from heat and leave for set aside to be used at the end. In another pan melt butter and add onion, garlic and 2 tsps sweet paprika and ½ tsp hot paprika and sweat over low heat for 10 minutes or until onion is very soft. Set aside
Soak the bread in a little of the chicken broth and squeeze to remove excess as much as possible – set aside. Pulse walnuts to fine crumbs in a food processor then add onion mixture and pulse until smooth, add soaked bread, salt, pepper, lemon juice and blend. Add chicken stock to get mayonnaise consistency pulsing as needed. Pour walnut sauce in a very large bowl and add chicken – mix together. To serve place on plate and indent slightly with the back of a spoon to drizzle a small amount of the walnut oil/paprika mixture which was set aside.
Circassian Chicken is so easy mixing bread soaked in broth with crushed walnuts and paprika to make the sauce.
Green Beans Istanbul
1 lb green beans
2 med onions grated or chopped
2 cups water
2 med tomatoes sliced or cherry tomatoes halved
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Cut beans in half or thirds and place in with onion in a pot – cover and cook for 20-30 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, oil, sugar, and salt. Add 1 cup of water then cover and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes checking that beans are not overcooked. Add a little more water if needed.
Green beans Istanbul.
Leeks and Carrots in Olive Oil (A La Turka!) 
2 lbs leeks
1 large onion finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 carrots sliced thin
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp rice
¼ tsp sugar
Juice of one lemon and 1 lemon slice
Lemon for garnish
1 cup wate
Salt to taster
Use only white part of leek. Cut leeks 1 ½ or inch long pieces. Wash and drain. Saute onions in oil for approx 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add leeks, carrots and tomato paste. Cover and cook over low heat for 3o minutes. Add rice, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and one cup of water. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until leeks are tender. Make sure all grains of rice are covered with water. Remove from heat and cool. Slice lemon for garnish around serving platter.
Leeks and Carrots in Olive Oil (A La Turka!)
See the special feature page on our website for more on the backstory of the Kutay Family Turksih Heritage including a picture of us dining together enjoying these dishes with the relatives in Istanbul circa 1968.
We budget generously for meals on our Wildland Adventures in Turkey so you can try at least one new dish every day on your trip with us. For more information about travel to Turkey ask the Turkey Program Director.
Keeping it wild,
Kurt Kutay
PS: If you like this recipe, check out more of our wild recipes.
Ceviche a la Galapagos!
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