It should have enough oil, be made with high-quality ingredients, it should be consistent and... Naturally, it should have just the right amount of spices. This is the definition of a good meal for me. I would like to reinforce this definition with a meal from Antakya. Bon appetite...
In one of the interviews I gave after publication of my first book "My Beautiful Restaurants", I had said something. I can't remember it exactly now, I'd said something like, "I'm ready to go kilometers for a good meal. And I did... It takes effort and will to reach a good meal. A good meal should meet some criteria. It should have enough oil, be made with high-quality ingredients, it should be consistent and... Naturally, it should have just the right amount of spices. In short, it will have just enough salt and pepper. Not less, not more. Who would want to eat a meal that's gone bitter or salty, which suppresses flavor of the main ingredient, right?
I now acknowledge my mother to be right
My late mother had a saying I can't ever forget: "There's a cure for saltless, but if you add too much salt, there's no return". She used to repeat this every time she saw me add salt to meals without tasting, persistently. I turned a deaf ear, but now I do. After all, I reached a certain age. We have to pay attention to what we eat and drink, but disciplining oneself is difficult for someone writing about restaurants and gastronomy for a living. Of course, I'm not saying "let's just throw caution to the wind". Rather, I'm trying to eat less of the meals I love. If I go over the limit one evening, I don't stop the next day, but I go slow. Whether I succeed is open to question, but I strive. That's something, right?
It's a wonder that I could return from Antakya without dying from overeating...
There are some meals that one can never say "no". In the Antakya trip I took a few years ago, I thought I would die from overeating, just like in cartoons. I'd like to send my compliments to Jale Balcı. She and her family had entertained us so well, and I was fascinated by both Antakya, and its flavors.
I'd like to send my compliments to Jale Balcı
Everything revolves around eating in this distinguished city. This is the land of quality and original meals with abundant spice in them. With its tray kebab, zahter salad, hummus, kömbe, maklube, borani, burghul salad, kibbeh, katık ekmek, kaytaz börek, sac orugu and last but not the least, kanefeh, Antakya cuisine is indescribably magnificent. If you drop by Antep and you taste at least a few of the local meals, you'll definitely acknowledge me to be right. But I humbly want to arouse your appetite, even just a little bit. Let's give an ear to Jale again. Jale cooks centuries-old recipes of Antakya cuisine in her restaurant called Farina in Zekeriyaköy, Istanbul. She's also a writer of best-seller books. This recipe is taken from Jale Balcı's book "Antakya and Its Meals". I hope you try cooking it, and discover the pleasure of lovely sac orugu, which is a bit difficult to make. Bon appetite...
Ingredients (8 servings)
1 kg thin dark brown burghul
500 g nerveless and low-fat meat
2 table spoons paprika paste
1 table spoon basil
For the stuffing;
1 kg minced meat
5 mid-sized onions
250 g crushed walnut
1 bunch parsley
Black pepper, cumin, salt, chili pepper
2 table spoon olive oil
Brown minced meat with olive oil in a pot. Add the diced onion on it. While the onion is softening, add all spices and other stuffing ingredients and stir it, then leave it to cool. Knead the burghul with paprika paste and basil, adding lukewarm water occasionally. When the burghul starts to ripen, add the meat and keep kneading. Separate the burghul meatball into two equal pieces. Spread the first piece on the oiled tray. Spread the stuffing with minced meat on it. Close the remaining burghul meatball on it. Oil its surface, and bake in an oven set to 150 degrees Celsius until it’s roasted.
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