Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Visiting Turkey and crossing the boundary between two continents within one city is on my bucket list. Also on the list is to stand in Constantinople and sing that 50’s classic “Istanbul“). The country is so laden with history and a wide variety of ethnicities that I dream of the markets and cuisine! Turkey remains on the bucket list, so I settled for a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sautéed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandelion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creaminess of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delectable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simpler to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes divine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratatouille, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?” I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thickness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for Mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425oF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!

or a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sauteed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandlion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creamyness of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delicatable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simplier to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes devine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratattouie, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?”. I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thinkness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425dF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!

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