2 June 2016
Welcome to the tenth edition of Knidos Cookery Club! This calls for a celebration and this week we’ll be looking at some snacks and starters commonly associated with Turkey’s favourite alcoholic tipple, rakı.
Rakı is a member of the family of anise-flavoured drinks common to many countries with coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea – ouzo in Greece, pastis in France, sambuca in Italy, arak in Lebanon and chinchón in Spain.
When rakı is diluted with water, it turns a milky white colour leading to its Turkish nickname, aslan sütü, or lion’s milk. It’s drunk as an aperitif and is accompanied by white cheese and cucumber. In spring and early summer, it’s often served with tart, sour green plums, known as can erik.
Rakı also accompanies a long, lazy lunch or evening meal with the drink served alongside a selection of mezeler, or appetizers that include, among many others, a spicy tomato and chili paste, acılı ezme, yogurt, grated cucumber and crushed garlic, cacık, and semizotu, purslane mixed with yogurt. These starters are usually followed by a grilled fish course and the meal is finished with slices of fresh melon.
We couldn’t resist these great carrots in the market last week, and they’ve inspired this meze to go with a glass or two of lion’s milk. This week’s recipe is for cezizli havuç tarator, a combo of walnuts, carrots and yogurt.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
200 g baby carrots
200 ml Greek (strained) yogurt
One or two garlic cloves
Splash of olive oil
Salt, black pepper, dried oregano, chili flakes, cumin and nigella seeds
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Clean and grate the carrots (keep the carrot tops to make this pesto) then cook the grated carrot over a low heat for ten minutes or so to help release the natural sugars in the carrots. While it’s cooking, keep stirring and add pinches of salt, black pepper, dried oregano, chili flakes and cumin.
Allow the carrots to cool then add the crushed walnuts (use a blender or a rolling pin to crush them), as much garlic as you prefer and the yogurt. Blend together well and drizzle with nigella seeds.
Serve as a dip with crackers and slices of red pepper and cucumber along with a glass of rakı, water and ice.