Sweet Endings on the Turkish Trail – Baklava with blueberry

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One of my favorite places in the world is Turkey. Over the past few years, I have visited Turkey a number of times in search of Turkish kebabs recipes while I was writing my last book, On the Kebab Trail. I trailed too many countries in search of global kebab recipes from Bosnia, Germany, Russia, Middle East, Africa, Thailand to every corner of India.

It is interesting to note that Turkey is the birth place of kebabs. But mind you, Turkey is not just only about kebabs as there is much more to this fantastic country which is a blend of east and west. Turkish cuisine is largely based on Ottoman cuisine, which in turn was influenced by Mediterranean, Caucasian, Balkan and Central Asian cuisines. Turkish cuisine, like Indian food, varies from region to region. The food in regions like Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, and rest of the Aegean is influenced by Ottoman court cuisine with its mild spices and predominant use of rice. The Black Sea region is mainly influenced by Balkan and Slavic cuisines and fish like Hamsi (black sea anchovy) are liberally consumed. In the South east, places like Adana and Urfa are more famous for kebabs and mezzes and of course dough-based desserts like Baklava etc. In the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees grow abundantly, olive oil is abundantly used for cooking. The cuisines of the Marmara, and other Mediterranean parts are rich in vegetables, herbs and fish. In Anatolia, one gets to eat specialties like Keškek and Manti.

In Istanbul, I was staying at the Swissotel Bosphorus. I always opt for a plan which includes breakfast as I enjoy the huge spread in Turkish hotels at breakfast time. Normally Turkish breakfast is light consisting of Turkish sausages, cheese, nuts, yoghurt, olives , fruits and honey. Menemen is a Turkish breakfast specialty which is made of tomatoes, green peppers, olives, olive oil and eggs. The Turkish main course mainly consists of beef, chicken , fish, aubergines, green peppers, yoghurt, olives beans and tomatoes. They also use nuts like pistachios. chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts etc.

On my previous visit to Istanbul I was advised to visit the fist market restaurants. To my surprise there was a line of old restaurants on both the sides of the narrow cobbled lane. There was both inside and outside seating, brightly lit with gypsy musicians entertaining, hopping by most of the tables. I was advised to eat at a restaurant called Kalamar, whose owner Ćelal, is now a good friend. He ordered a fish kebab called Ozborrun and a vegetable mezze platter along with some Adan kebabs rolled in freshly baked pita breads, the taste of which still lingers in my mouth. To end with I had the most delicious Baklava, large figs dipped in brandy honey and Turkish kahva. Ummm! Delicious.

I am going to share a recipe of blueberry baklava ( a traditional Turkish dessert) which I got from the chef of the restaurant after a lot of coaxing. So here we go .

Baklava with Blueberry

Blueberry-Baklava

By Monish Gujral Published: February 26, 2014

    One of my favorite places in the world is Turkey. Over the past few years, I have visited Turkey a number of times in search of …

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
    2. Melt the butter over low heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of the butter into the bottom of a baking pan. Layer 3 sheets of the phyllo dough in the pan. Trim dough to fit. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of walnuts and blueberry over the phyllo dough. Layer 3 more sheets of dough, brush generously with the melted butter, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of walnuts and blueberry. Continue dough-butter-walnuts and blueberry layering until pan is 3/4 full.
    3. With a knife, score phyllo dough to form diamonds. Put a clove at each end of the diamonds. Pour remaining butter over the dough.
    4. Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.
    5. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan, and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 10 minutes.
    6. Add the honey and simmer for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick. Pour honey mixture over hot baklava. Let cool on . Cut into diamonds and they are ready to be served.

      First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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