If you thought Turkish food was all about greasy, reformed kebabs, think again. I have to admit, up until recently, I probably would’ve agreed with you. Having never been to Turkey myself, my only experience of the cuisine up until now has come from very occasional early morning visits to the dodgy kebab shops that line Cardiff’s Caroline Street. Recently, however, I attended a Turkish cookery class at Saray Restaurant that completely changed my perspective on Turkish food. During the class, we made Turkish pizza, ‘pide’ and Adana kebabs and I had such a good time, I’ve already had a go at making my own pide at home since (scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe!)
Despite being based on City Road, there’s something about Saray that sets it apart from the other Turkish food outlets on the street (Troy aside, which is apparently also fantastic). It’s not just a fast food outlet that you’d pop into for a quick bite to eat when you’re in a rush or after a heavy night out; Saray has a touch of class about it and would be the ideal setting for a meal with family or friends.
Arriving at Saray Restaurant, I was met by co-owner, Selma Oran; fellow blogger and friend, Mellissa of The Diary of a Jewellery Lover; Kelly Eroglu from Reduced Grub and Charli from High Street Beauty Junkie. We sipped on cups of hot Turkish black tea as Selma explained how the cookery class would work, and introduced us to the two dishes we would be making: Adana kebabs and Turkish pide (filled Turkish pizza). I’ve tried Turkish coffee before, but Turkish tea was new to me. I loved the aromatic flavour and the tea cups were so intricately decorated.
After washing our hands and donning aprons and hairnets, we were led into the kitchen where we met one of the chefs, Jihat, who would be showing us how to make Adana kebabs. Originating from the south of Turkey, Adana is a spicy minced meat kebab that is traditionally made from the hand-chopped meat and tail fat of a male lamb. At Saray, the meat is passed through a mincer immediately before cooking. Jihat had kindly prepared a mixture of minced lamb, onion, red pepper, salt, chilli and parsley for us beforehand.
We each had a go at shaping the mincemeat mixture onto flat metal skewers. It was a lot harder than Jihat made it look!
You have to use your hands to gently squeeze the mixture along the length of the skewer until it is evenly spread out – a technique that provoked a few risqué innunendos and lots of giggles! 😉
With a little help from Jihat, we managed to transform our balls of mincemeat mixture into perfectly formed Adana kebabs and they were whisked off into the kitchen, ready to be cooked on the charcoal grill for lunch after the class.
Pide – Turkish pizza
Pide (pronounced ‘pee-day’) is a traditional Turkish pizza filled with a range of toppings, from cheese and egg, to mincemeat and pastrami, and baked in a clay or stone oven. If you have two or more Pide, they are referred to as pideler (‘pee-day lair’).
We made kymali (mincemeat) pide, chicken pide and Ispanakli pide (feta cheese, spinach, red peppers, onion and mushrooms). First, we were shown how to roll out the dough into a flat oval shape, before filling it with ingredients and brushing it with egg yolk. Pide is baked in a hot clay oven for around ten minutes and served while still hot, sliced diagonally and paired with fresh lemon and parsley.
Pide is so easy to make, and it’s an incredibly impressive dish, I am looking forward to experimenting with other toppings; I can’t wait to try stuffing some Turkish kasar (cheese) into the crust!
I enjoyed making Turkish pizza at Saray so much, I’ve already had a go at recreating the recipe at home – scroll to the end of this blog post for Saray’s recipe for Kymali pide. Saray don’t use yeast to make pide because their ovens are so hot that it isn’t necessary, but if you’re making pide yourself at home in a traditional oven, I recommend adding some yeast. I used dry instant yeast, but fresh yeast is ideal if you can get hold of some from your local baker.
Once we had finished making our pide, they were placed into the oven to bake as we got settled at our table for lunch.
Besides our Adana kebabs and freshly baked pide, we also feasted on fluffy boiled rice, side salad and a mixed mezze of dips and sides including fresh hummus, tabule (fresh parsley with mint, bulgar, olive oil, tomatoes and lemon juice), tzatziki (yoghurt, cucumber and garlic dip), baba ganoush (smoky aubergine dip), Ramadan pide (a flatbread covered in sesame seeds, traditionally eaten during Ramadan), peynirli muska boregi (deep-fried triangles of filo pastry stuffed with feta cheese and parlsey) and sujuk (spicy sausage).
We rounded off our meal (or banquet, should I say!) with another cup of Turkish tea and a sweet treat in the form of kadayif; a form of baklava consisting of layers of filo pastry soaked in honey syrup and topped with crumbled pistachios.
I had such a great time at Saray Restaurant and after seeing how all of the food is prepared fresh to order and noticing how reasonably priced the menu is, I just know I’ll be in here all the time from now on – it’s dangerously close to my house!
Fancy having a go at making your own Turkish food? Read on for Saray’s recipe for kymali pide. You’d be really surprised at how quick and easy it is to make pide, and you’ll never tire of experimenting with fillings! If you try out the recipe, leave me a comment to let me know how it went.
Turkish pizza, Kymani Pide
Pide is the ultimate Turkish comfort food, consisting of a boat-shaped flatbread topped with all kinds of fillings. This recipe is for Kymani (mincemeat) pide,
For the dough
- ½ cup lukewarm water add extra if needed
- ½ 7g sachet instant yeast
- 1 dessert spoon sugar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2.5 cups bread flour
- ½ dessert spoon salt
For the filling
- 400 g minced meat I used lamb but beef would work just as well
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tomato
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ¼ bunch fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 300 °C, or as high as your oven will go. Mix the flour, salt, water, sugar and oil and knead them until well-mixed. You can use a dough machine if you like, although it’s not necessary. Once the dough is formed, wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest for an hour or so.
Finely chop the onion, red pepper, green pepper and parsley and mix together.
Add the salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano and paprika and stir to combine.
Fry the mixture in vegetable oil over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Unwrap the dough from the cling film and form into palm-sized dough balls. Use a rolling pin to open them up and roll them out into flat, circular pieces. Then, use your hand to carefully stretch the dough on each side in order to form an oval shape.
Scoop the mincemeat filling onto the flat dough and then fold the outer edges in all around the sides, using beaten egg to seal together. When you have finished folding over the edges, brush the egg over the top of the exposed dough.
Place the pideler onto a large oven tray lined with parchment paper, transfer them to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven, slice diagonally and serve hot with fresh lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley.
- Saray’s recipe recommends the use of a food processor to blend the onion, peppers and parsley together, but I didn’t use one and it turned out fine - just chop the veggies finely!
- Once you’ve rolled out your dough and it’s in the flat, oval-shaped stage, transfer it onto the baking parchment before you add the filling. That way, you can avoid the risk of your pide falling apart when you lift it onto the baking tray (yes, this happened to me!)
Have you ever tried any Turkish foods such as pide? Would you try out this Turkish pizza recipe yourself at home?