Watch this spice: Skye Gyngell's Turkish delights

Just add the spirit of the souk to a handful of herbs from the garden for a scintillating taste of Turkey. Skye Gyngell shows how...
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Turkish cooking is all about sun-drenched, strong and confident flavours – the cuisine of a country that is warm for most of the year. Olive oil is used liberally, as are lemon juice, herbs, chillies and spices. These are tastes that fill your mouth with both texture and flavour. It is food to eat at this time of year – bold and earthy but undeniably clean and fresh – and these dishes make the most of the wonderful herbs that are once again beginning to grow in the garden.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Gardens, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Lamb shanks with rice and cinnamon

The warmth of the spices in this dish are counterbalanced by the lemon juice and mint. Make it in advance if you like, as it is almost better when reheated – just add the rice upon reheating.

Serves 4

4 lamb shanks, trimmed of all fat
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 small green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 sticks of cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into generous pieces
3 fresh bay leaves
1 litre/13/4 pints chicken stock
150g/5oz short-grain rice
A pinch of salt
1 bunch of mint, leaves only
The juice of half a lemon

Season the meat generously. Place a large pan on a medium heat and add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the lamb and brown well all over. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove the shanks and set aside in a warm place. Pour off any fat from the pan, turn down the heat slightly and add the onions, spices, garlic, carrots and bay. Cook gently, stirring now and then, until the onions are soft. Return the meat to the pan, pour over the stock, place a lid on and turn the heat to low. Cook very gently for an hour and a half. Check now and then to ensure the liquid has not evaporated too much; if it has, add a little water, return the lid and continue cooking. Add the rice and cook for 20 minutes more; it should retain a little bite. Taste, and adjust the seasoning; a good pinch of salt brings out all the spicy flavours. Then add the mint, squeeze over the lemon juice and serve. '

Broad beans with yoghurt and dill

Broad beans are a staple in the Middle East and are glorious at this time of year. Sweet, young broad beans need not be double-podded – their outer skin is still soft and not woody, as they are towards the end of their season. This is a simple recipe – delicious as part of a mezze plate or lovely as a little side-dish, perhaps with the lamb shanks from page 29.

Serves 2

250g/8oz broad beans
40ml/11/2fl oz fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1 medium-sized bunch of dill
The juice of half a lemon
150ml/5fl oz thick Greek-style yoghurt
1 small pinch of sweet paprika

Start by podding the broad beans, and place a pot of well-salted water on to boil. Once the water is boiling, add the beans and cook for one minute, then drain and place in a bowl. Pour over the olive oil while the beans are still warm, season with a little salt and toss together well. Chop the dill finely, scatter over the beans, and squeeze over the lemon juice. Place in a serving bowl and spoon over the yoghurt, then gently, and with restraint, sprinkle over the paprika, and serve. '

Tomato, grated egg and slow-cooked chard

This salad cleans the palate nicely. Serve before, after or alongside the lamb dish.

Serves 2

4 leaves of Swiss chard
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 head of endive
2 slightly green tomatoes, sliced into eighth-of-an-inch rounds
1 hard-boiled egg
12 small black olives, stones removed
The juice of one lemon

Start by placing a pot of well-salted water on to boil. Rinse the chard under running water to remove any dirt and chop into rough one- to two-inch slices. Once the water is boiling, add the chard and cook for three minutes. Drain and allow to cool. When the chard is at room temperature, chop finely and place in a saucepan with a tablespoon of the oil. Season with salt and pepper, set over a low heat and cook, stirring every now and then for 30 minutes or until the chard is soft and dark. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Wash the endive and remove the outer leaves, then slice into half-inch pieces and place in a bowl with the slices of tomato. Peel and grate the egg and add to the bowl, scatter over the chard and olives and dress with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss together until all the ingredients are well coated with the oil. Arrange on a large plate and serve.

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