Friday, February 12, 2010

Turkish Style Simple Spaghetti (Sade Uzun Makarna)

When you think of spaghetti, what usually comes to mind is probably the sauce. Well, this spaghetti recipe has very little sauce; just enough to give it a nice flavor. It has very few ingredients which by the way, does not hinder it from tasting delicious. Sometimes, I just like my food plain and this is one of those dishes that I do like plain. When I was little, my mother used to make it and loved it. I still do. A plate of salad would go perfectly with this. Enjoy.

½ package angel hair pasta or spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ tsp salt
Pinch of ground black pepper (optional)
¾ cup water

For Boiling Pasta:

½ tsp canola oil
½ tsp salt
½ full pot of water

To Cook the Pasta:

Boil water for cooking the pasta. Thin pasta only needs 3-4 minutes to cook. To be safe, follow directions on the package. As soon as the water boils, add salt and oil so that the pasta does not stick together. Remove from heat and drain.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. In a small bowl, dissolve the tomato paste in the water. Add the dissolved tomato paste to the pot with the olive oil. Let it simmer. Stir the sauce and add the pasta. Sprinkle the salt and mix well so that the tomato sauce is integrated with the pasta. Adjust the salt to your taste and if you wish, you may add some black pepper before serving.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pan Kebab (Sini Kebabı)

‘Sini Kebabı’ is also known as ‘Tava Kebabı’ or 'Tepsi Kebabı' (Pan Kebab) in Antakya and the surrounding regions where this dish is extremely popular. Sini Kebabı can be prepared at home and sent to a local bakery for baking in the wood fire. However, it can also be prepared by a butcher and then sent to the bakery for cooking. During lunch hour at work, many small business owners usually choose the latter since it is convenient. They would ask the butcher to prepare the meat with the onions and spices and they would send the pan with the meat to the bakery to cook. They would order hot, flat bread to go with the Sini Kebabı. In the summer months, a cold glass of ‘ayran’ would also be ordered with this meal.

Whether it is cooked at home for the family or at work, this is a delightful dish. Unfortunately there is no Turkish style bakery around, so I got to use my own oven to cook it. If not baked, this can also cook on stovetop and still taste good. When I am in a hurry, I do tend to cook it on stovetop.

I am not sure if Sini Kebabı is known in other parts of Turkey, but I believe it is also known in Adana, Osmaniye, Kilis and Gaziantep provinces since our food culture is very similar due to close proximity.

Now, here is the recipe.

1 lb ground beef
½ 1 small onion (chopped finely)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
½ cup parsley (chopped finely)
1 tsp tomato sauce
1 tsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
3 long, green peppers (cut in half or fourths)
2 ripe tomatoes (sliced)
2 potatoes (sliced ¼ of an inch)

For the Sauce:

1½ cups water
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper

Place the ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, tomato sauce, red pepper paste and black pepper in a large bowl. With your hands, mix the contents of the bowl well, so that all the ingredients are married together.

Slightly oil a Pyrex dish or a heavy bottom pan and spread the meat with your hands by pressing the meat against the bottom of the baking dish.

Once the meat is layered, arrange the potatoes on top of the meat.

Place the tomato slices on top of the potatoes and the green peppers on top of the tomatoes.

In a small bowl, place the water tomato paste, salt and ground pepper. Mix well enough to dissolve the tomato paste. Pour the sauce over the contents of the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake covered with aluminum foil at 375 F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes take golden brown color.

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