Black Sea cooking contains a richer variety due to the fact that the Black Sea is not at all a homogenous cultural area, therefore it is natural that it includes the culinary influences from different cultures as well. Black Sea cooking is not dominated as much by kale and hamsi as Laz cooking is. Though many are familiar with Mediterranean, Aegean or southeastern Turkish cuisines, the dishes from the Black Sea region are not considered mainstream.It consists of regional vegetables, pickled beans and seafood, particularly hamsi. There is not much red meat, except for diced meat wrapped in black cabbage and served with a cooling thick yogurt. Hazelnut soup, which is similar to lentil soup but with a creamy, nutty texture and a fine distinctive hazelnut aroma.
The black cabbage soup is also light, but yet the hazelnut is more authentic and is highly recommended. Sakarca Kaygana, a Turkish style omelet specific to the region with mixed herbs. Also go for the famous Fasulye Kavurma, a bean dish made from bean pickles. The other specialty is the Merulcan, a light and refreshing green beans dish that is cooked and served cold. Black Sea-style sardines called Hamsi are significant to the region. Hamsi çıtlatma, made with olive oil and lots of garlic instead of butter or being fried. The Hamsi Buğlama is probably the lighter fare with the little fish stewed and cooked in steam with spices and vegetables. An unusual choice is the Hamsi Kaygana made with eggs and various vegetables, similar to a fish omelet.
Strongly influenced by geography and climate, mountains and sea, foods featured in the Black Sea region includes the black anchovy called hamsi, corn served in endlessly interesting ways, pickled green beans, an abundance of other vegetables and akcabat kofte or meatballs. Sweet helva, made with corn, butter and local honey, is another local favorite, as are, of course, a great variety of Black Sea and river fish including farm-raised trout (Turkish: alabalik), considered by many to be the tastiest in the world. Black Sea cuisine includes the roots of the world-famous Turkish tea. The Turkish tea industry is based in the town of Rize, where a moist, moderate climate provides perfect growing conditions. While green tea is exported all over the world, travelers should be prepared to enjoy the local favorite, the strong, smoky black variety that is traditionally served with sugar and is as much a social event as it is a beverage.
Black Sea Recipes
Lu Mk’vaneyi / Mashed Kale
Kale, green beans, chard, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, walnuts, butter, suet, vegetable oil, garlic, pepper, a wooden beater and trough
Choosing kale for mk’vaneyi requires much skill. This task is always undertaken by the women, and by the senior woman of the house, never by young girls or new brides. The ingredients for mk’vaneyi must be very fresh. The most tender leaves of kale are chosen. If green beans are to be added, it is more difficult. Hardened beans must not be added, because they will have strings which are hard to separate. The same is true for peas and chard if they are to be added. There are several different versions of lu mk’vaneyi.
1. Kale, green peas (not shelled), chard, two to three potatoes, walnuts, garlic, suet, butter and vegetable oil.
2. Kale, green beans, chard, two potatoes, butter, suet, vegetable oil and garlic
3. Kale, pinto beans, two potatoes, suet, butter, vegetable oil and garlic.
However mkvaneyi is to be made, the kale is first removed from its stems. After being washed well, it is cooked in a wide (a copper pot or ½’uk’ali), and drained. It must be well drained or the bitterness left in the water will spoil the flavor of the dish. The drained kale is cooked in new water with the green beans, peas or kale according to season. A few medium potatoes may be added. After the mixed vegetables are cooked, they are drained and put into a wooden trough, the sarğa.. If a wooden trough is not available, a copper pot will do. The mixture is mashed with the wooden k’orza. Before the beating begins, 10-15 cloves of garlic are peeled. They are mashed with a smooth stone and added to the mixture. The beating continues until all the ingredients are well-blended. At this point olive oil and suet are mixed in a pan and heated. When it is heated, the beaten mixture is added and stirred. Melted butter may also be added, as well as crushed green hot pepper. If crushed walnuts are to be used, they are added at this point. It is said to be ready when it can be smelled from 500 meters away. The mk’vaneyi must be eaten as soon as possible.
Fried cheese / Müvzli Geûzğzneyi
150 gr fresh cheese
100 gr fresh butter
Cut cheese in slices 2-3 mm thick. Melt 100 gr of butter in a shallow pan. As soon as the butter begins to brown, add the cheese. You may add half a cup of water if you wish. Cook for one minute, then remove from heat and serve hot.(Serves 4)
Even though the Laz do not prepare a wide variety of pickled vegetables, they do use a lot of the ones they do make. Pickled beans are the most popular. In the autumn, kettles of beans for pickling were boiled and put into earthen vessels. Some with different tastes prefer pickled chard. Pickled kaldırık (a local herb) is a special favorite.
Green beans, pickled chard or burği, onion, vegetable oil, parsley
Whichever pickled vegetable is chosen, it is washed well, and diced finely. The onions are prepared separately, four medium onions for a large plate. The onions are finely chopped and sautéed in vegetable oil. When they are transparent, the pickled vegetables are added, a sprig of parsley is added, and the mixture is fried for 5-6 minutes more. It is eaten with hot corn bread.
Hamsi, rice, onion, parsley, tomato paste, potatoes, dried currants, pine nuts, olive oil, tomatoes, black pepper.
The hamsi should be very fresh and fat. Wash and remove the backbones/ribs. Wash again in plenty of water, and let drain well. Finely chop the onion and parsley, and wash the rice. Heat some olive oil in a pan, sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients. Cook the vegetables with the rice until the vegetables soften, about 8-10 minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.
Lightly oil a baking pan and heat in the oven. Arrange the cleaned hamsi so as to cover the bottom and leave no open spaces. After the bottom is covered, move on to the sides. The hamsi are arranged in a single row on the sides of the pan such that the tail portion is on the bottom of the pan. This is very important and should be done carefully. The top half of the hamsis should hang over the edge of the pan. After this is done, add the pilaf mixture to the pan and spread evenly; then fold the outer ends of the hamsi over the rice mixture. Arrange the remaining hamsi over the rice, to completely cover it; in other words, the rice should be completely enclosed in hamsi. If it is not completely covered, the rice on the edges especially will dry and become hard in the oven, and spoil the flavor on the edges as well. Finish off with a drizzling of olive oil over the top. Bake in a hot oven for 45 minutes and serve hot.
Termoni / Laz Aşure
There is saying about termoni: "Lazlar yapar termoni - Musliman yemez oni" (The Laz make termoni / Muslims don’t eat it). This saying provides a clue that termoni entered Laz cuisine before Islam.
600 gr Grape/mulberry molasses
200 gr corn
100 gr bulgur
100 gr hulled wheat
½ c rice
300 gr pinto beans
150 gr hazelnuts
8-10 bay leaves
1 c sugar
1-2 litres water
2-3 tablespoon flour
The day before, soak the pinto beans. On the second day, boil and drain them, and place into a single pot and bring to a boil. After the ingredients have boiled for 15-20 minutes, put a few tablespoons of flour into a sifter and sprinkle over the mixture, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. When all the ingredients have cooked well, add the bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes more. Empty into serving bowls. May be served hot or cold.
Kapçoni Gyayi / Hamsi Bread
Salt-cured hamsi, corn meal, onion, chard, parsley, green onion, green pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, vegetable oil
The original hamsi bread is only made with salt-cured hamsi, corn meal and olive oil. As the hamsi may be very salty, they must be soaked in water. Bones may be removed but if they are left in, it doesn’t much affect the dish. After finely chopping the vegetables; they are kneaded with the corn meal and hamsi in a sarğa. A cup of oil may be added during the kneading, it both adds flavor and softens the dough. After it is well kneaded, it is poured into a well oiled pan, then baked until brown in a hot oven.
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt, plain
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
Bread Pan, oiled
Mix the corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, yogurt, sugar, egg and olive oil in another bowl. Stir into the dry ingredients and whisk. Pour the batter into the oiled Loaf Cake Mold.
Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Place the mold on the middle rack. Bake for about 45 minutes. Place the Cornbread on the wire rack so it cools. Then slice this delicious Turkish Cornbread and serve.
1 kilo of pumpkin - cubed
1 medium sized onion - diced
1 medium sized potato - cubed
3 black peppercorns
4 cumin seeds
2 cardamom pods
2 fennel seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
Add a sprinkling of black peppercorns, cumin seeds, 2 cardamom pods, 2 fennel seeds to a pestle and mortar and grind them all.
(The seeds will come out of the cardamom pods and you can discard the pods.) Add the seed mix to a pan and heat on a low light.
Toast the seeds for a couple of minutes until you can smell the spicy aroma. Add the olive oil, the squash, onions and potato
and stir. Next add hot water to the pan - just enough to cover the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat,
cover the pan and let simmer for around 30 minutes until the squash and potatoes are soft and lastly blend the soup until it's smooth.
Leçons de Choses
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