Since our holiday in Greece early this summer our taste buds seem to be craving middle eastern food all the time! It just seems to be all about good quality ingredients taken to another level with the addition of heady spice combinations and wonderfully surprising textures and sweet and savoury pairings. Many of the dishes we are playing with also cross the seasons and work fantastically in the summer, when you want a light salad or a Mezze platter to share with friends, or on a decadent and cosy evening in for two.
We have been trying out several recipes in the past few weeks and one that has really worked and we’d like to share this week is this amazing Turkish bread called Ramazan Pide, which you can accompany with something as simple as a good olive oil and spice dip, or if your feeling like something more elaborate, try our roasted aubergine and yogurt recipe below which works great as part of a sharing dish, or as a starter on its own.
We tried the bread for the first time in a Turkish restaurant not so long ago and immediately decided we needed to learn how to make it. According to our research Ramazan Pide (or Ramazan Pidesi) is a traditional bread that, although nowadays is probably baked throughout the year, is most commonly baked and eaten during Ramadan. Apparently people queue up for it outside bakeries just before sunset to include it with their meal when they break their fast. How amazing that this takes place at sunset rather than sunrise!
It’s a very milky bread with lots of yeast and a long rising period that can only mean one thing: big air bubbles, which is then baked at a very high temperature for not very long (just 10 minutes), thus resulting in a fantastically crusty exterior and a soft bubbly middle, which is perfect for soaking up all sorts of dipping sauces, soups or stews.
Aside from the usual rising periods, most recipes demanded an overnight rise in a cool space. We experimented with this aspect and decided to stick to the traditional method – the overnight rise is not essential, but does make a big difference.
The full recipe for the bread is below, once you’ve done it , simply slice it and enjoy it with some good olive oil or why not try this easy aubergine recipe suggestion.
Speaking of good Olive Oils, we were recently sent a beautifully presented box of 3 Jordanian Olive Oils and a Baharat spice mix from Terra Rosa. Terra Rosa does a fantastic range of Arabian ingredients, including Zaytoun’s Fair Trade and Organic olive oil from Palestine, which is one of our all-time favourite fair trade products.
The olive oils (cold-dripped and unfiltered, chilli infused and lemon infused) are gorgeous. Their flavours are distinct enough to make them interesting, but not strong enough to upstage whatever else you are cooking.
We LOVED the Baharat, which is a Jordanian blend of spices (a bit like the Indian Garam Masala) which includes: coriander, cumin, dill, galangal, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, dry lemon and caraway. It can be used for anything from simply mixing it with oil and having it with bread (like we did) to using it in marinades, salads, tagines etc! I assure you that once you lift that lid and smell the incredible spice combination, your head will spin with the cooking possibilities!
Now to the Aubergines. First of all, aubergines rock. I know that they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s simply because when they are not cooked well they can taste a bit bitter. If they are cooked with love… they are a thing of beauty. They are the most mysterious member of the nightshade fruit family (yup, they are a fruit!) and they are the darkest most seductive and voluptuous of fruits which when slow roasted, its flesh turns into a lusciously creamy and silky texture.
All you need to do is:
- Heat the oven to 180.
- Slice the aubergine into thick slices the thickness of a little finger is perfect.
- Drizzle the baking tin with a bit of olive oil and put the slices on the tray. Drizzle with more oil.
- Add salt to taste with around half a tea spoon of cumin seeds and the same of peppercorns.
- Pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn them over and add a bit more salt. Pop them back in the oven for another 15 minutes until both sides a golden brown.
- Layer the cool yogurt and the hot aubergine slices and the basil in turns to create a stack, then combine them with a few dollops of cool yoghurt and a subtle infusion of roasted cumin and peppercorns and dress it with some crisp basil leaves.
- 7g of instant yeast
- 1 3/4 cups of milk
- 1 tea spoon of sugar
- 4 1/8 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 tea spoons of salt
- A generous drizzle of olive oil
- For the final wash:
- 2 teaspoons of milk
- 1 medium egg yolk
- Warm the milk and the sugar in the microwave until it is warm and add the yeast. Let it ferment for around 10 minutes until it grows a foam.
- Sift the flour and the salt and add the milk mix and kneed it all together, then form it into a bowl and drizzle the olive oil all around. Leave it for a couple of hours in a warm dark place.
- Take the dough and divide it into 4 balls. Now kneed in the oregano. Ideally it should now be left overnight in the fridge in a bag and lovely big bubbles will form in the dough. An hour before you want to eat form the dough into flat discs and put them onto grease proof paper and a baking tin and at this point using a knife you can cut the top into a design of your choice simply by scoring the top to about half the depth of the bread. Or just leave it as it is.
- Take the egg yolk and a table spoon of milk. Mix them together with a fork and then generously paint the top of the dough. Leave it to one side for another 40 minutes or so in a warm place.
- Heat the oven to the highest temperature possible. Ours goes to 220. Then pop it into the oven for 10 minutes.
- When you take it out the oven put a kitchen towel over the top. This will make it sweat slightly, and will give the bread the ideal texture. Finish with another drizzle of olive oil.
That’s it! Enjoy