11 March 2013

Kofte With Garlic Yogurt

Since moving to Istanbul I've had to relearn how to cook. Mostly I make pasta because it's simple, versatile, and doesn't require more than the one pan and one pot that I have. However I do want to learn to cook Turkish food. While in the long run that means getting my rage repaired so all four burners work, buying more pots and pans, and figuring out all the spices, I thought I could at least do something simple with what I had on hand.

I'm always so wrong about these things.

You'd think you could never go wrong with garlic

I can't cook. I'm not sure I ever could? Pretty much anything and everything I have made in the past has been at least 80% done in an oven. I am flummoxed by the range. Although this time I think I can only blame it for a small part of the failure. I was trying to recreate a deceptively simple recipe I had while in Gaziantep and it did not go very well.

This was not such a good idea.

Since I no longer have an oven, a Dutch oven, or a convection oven I was momentarily stumped as to how to do one of my very favorite things-roast garlic. So I turned to that arbiter of all knowledge, Google, where someone had posted that you could "roast" garlic in a microwave.

This didn't work for me. I followed the directions and drizzled a little olive oil on them, wrapped the cloves in paper towel, and nuked 'em for about 30 seconds each side. By the time I'd done all the cloves (doing only 3-4 at a time) and was prepared to chop them all for the yogurt they had all shriveled and hardened. The only good thing that came out of this experiment is that I now know how to make my own garlic powder.

At least I don't have to buy garlic powder now.
My second mistake was the eggplant. I tried to dry roast it on the stove. It actually worked semi well. However I should have peeled it first I think. Scraping the eggplant meat out of the skins was not a pretty process.

The final failure in attempt number one was the meat. I bought ground meat at the grocery, I'm still not sure of it was beef or lamb frankly, and sauteed it with salt, dried red pepper, and my new supply of granulated garlic. When I put the dish together it looked pretty much like what I ate in Gaziantep. It did not, however, taste anything like it was supposed to.

It might look like it's supposed to-it did not taste like it though
Not to be defeated I tried again. This time I thought that, instead of just frying meat I'd also try my hand at making kofte, traditional Turkish meatballs. Wisely planning ahead I put out bread slices the night before so they could dry out. I then crumbled the bejeesus out of them. It worked pretty well until I got tired of smashing hard, crusty bread with my fingers (as a rolling pin is one of the many kitchen tools I now lack).

I also decided to take the garlic yogurt integral to the recipe in another direction. Rather than trying to roast garlic I decided just to use it in its raw and awesome power. So I smashed a bunch of cloves and chopped them all as finely as I could (I also do not have a garlic press anymore). This time I also remembered to add salt. A lot of salt. I don't think the salt here is as salty as it is in the States.

I also decided to save myself the mess of roasting eggplant and just pre peeled and chopped them for a good saute in a little oil. Way much easier.

Of all the tools I don't have I do seem to have a vegetable peeler
And then the kofte. Since the spice stalls all sell "meatball" spice I thought I'd give it try. It didn't work too well. I may not have added enough frankly. Since I have no idea what makes up "meatball spice" I was a leery of using too much so I think I erred on the overly cautious side with not nearly enough.
Obligatory tea back there

In addition to the "meatball spice" I added dried red peppers, salt, chopped garlic, the bread crumbs, and an egg and mushed it all together. I really hate the feeling of raw meat. It's just so gross. And sticky.

I really just needed half an egg...

Kofte are traditionally grilled, I think, but I don't have one of those, or an oven and a broiling pan, so I tried my hand at frying the kofte. Which did not go well. They got a little burned on the outside and I don't think they ever got quite done in the middle. And any part of the meat that wasn't touching the pan got cold. I really have to figure this out.

I need to find a lid to fit the pan
In the end I just got tired of waiting and decided to risk the kofte be they done or not. I'm really not sure at all if they were (I'm thinking not though because there were a little gooey on the inside and meat shouldn't be gooey) but they sure were not well seasoned. At least that's a fairly easy fix if I decide to try these again.

Ahh the victory of partial success!

In the end, the tastelessness of the kofte was saved because I at least got the yogurt part right...so as long as I got some yogurt in every bite it wasn't too bad. I will try my hand at kofte again-but probably not very soon.

The kofte didn't work out at all so I'm not going to bother with that; and I'm not even sure it's worth writing the garlic yogurt recipe since I measured nothing...but here we go.

Garlic Yogurt with Eggplant
  • Plain, thick yogurt (maybe Greek?)
  • Chopped, crushed, pressed etc garlic. I used about half a head for a cup and a half of yogurt.
  • Salt to taste
  • One medium sized eggplant, peeled and sauteed
Mix it all together and enjoy! I think next time I'll use at least half again as much garlic in the yogurt. Although likely I'll just stick to pasta for the time being!


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