Dried Food and Grains in Turkish Cuisine

Beans (Fasulye): Beans are grown in nearly every region of Turkey. There are many varieties; some of them are used green in Turkey. Fresh beans are used in cooked dishes […]

Beans (Fasulye): Beans are grown in nearly every region of Turkey. There are many varieties; some of them are used green in Turkey. Fresh beans are used in cooked dishes as well as in pickles and in jams. Dried beans, which are the seeds of mature bean plants, are one of the basic staples of Turkish cooking. There are many different manners of preparation varying from region to region, each with its own characteristic flavour. Dry beans may be prepared with cubed or ground meat, with pastırma or alone.

Cowpea by Başak Ekinci

Cowpea (Börülce): They are used in various ways: fresh like green beans and fresh shelled like green peas, but mostly in their dried form.

Fava Beans (Bakla): In addition to the green or mature beans, some varieties such as Sakız, Sultani and Bayrampaşa are eaten young in the same way as green beans. Fava beans are raised in nearly every part of Turkey. The dry beans are also used in various dishes; one of these is Fava, made from a puree of cooked dried favas.

Peas (Bezelye): The seeds, or the seeds along with the pod are eaten; it is mostly used fresh, and canned rather than dried. It may be used in salads as well.

Tahıl:  Tahıl is the name given in Turkish to the dried seeds of plants in the grass family, which are eaten either whole or ground into flour. Grown the world over and with a history almost as old as humanity itself, they may be consumed in a variety of ways, but the thing they all have in common is the making of bread. Though many different grains are used to make bread, the one most commonly used is wheat. Across the vast Turkic region from Central Asia to the Mediterranean basin, the most used grains are wheat and barley in the form of flour. Bread is an indispensable part of the Turkish table; it is not only a staple of nutrition but it has also become a central element of Turkish culture. In Turkey, bread is sacred. This sacredness comes from the fact that not only is it a natural product, but also the result of great effort.

Wheat (Buğday): A plant in the grass family, which has been developed the world over. It and corn are the second most planted grains in the world. In Turkish cuisine it is used ground into flour for use in such products as börek, çörek, bazlama, kete, simit. There is another very common food, kavurma, in which the wheat is washed and then dry-roasted and eaten plain. Wheat is grown throughout Turkey. Another very important wheat product is bulgur. After the wheat is washed and boiled, it is dried and beaten in a large mortar and pestle. It is used chiefly as pilaf as well as made into various köfte. Its use varies according to its grade, with large grades used more in pilaf, and the finer ones used in köfte. In addition, irmik (semolina), one of the most important additives in Turkish cooking, is made from wheat. Semolina is a very special ingredient, used in the making of certain halvahs, in many breads, certain köftes and sweets. It also holds an important place due to its high nutrition value.

Oats (Yulaf): A plant of the grass family, grown for its starchy seeds. As dough made from oat flour does not rise, it cannot be made into bread, however oat flour is mixed with other bread flours to add a different flavour. Oats are used more in the making of mush or in gözleme.

Barley (Arpa): Used very frequently in Turkish cooking, barley closely resembles wheat in its structure. Barley flour is used to make bread, soups and other baked goods.

Millet (Darı): Another plant in the grass family with edible seeds is millet. Some types are ground and mixed with milk or ayran and made into dough, or used in the making of breads. Millet is also the raw material for boza, a fermented drink found throughout the Turkic world. It is chiefly cultivated in the Mediterranean region.

Corn (Mısır): Corn is a plant which can be cultivated in relatively wet or humid regions such as the Black Sea. It is also valuable for its high nutritive value and unsaturated fats. The grains may be ground into flour for breads and çörek, used to coat fish before frying, or cracked in pilaffs and soups. It may also be eaten on the cob, either boiled or grilled.

Rye (Çavdar): This grain is generally ground into flour and mixed with wheat flours for bread.

Photo Credits: Rafael Alvez

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