The next recipe comes from the Turkish-Kurdish blog Rastî. If you are interested in the struggle of the Kurdish people, particularly in Turkey for national rights, this blog is where to go for the latest news. You will find information not found in mainstream sources. Where else will you learn that there are few Turkish Kurds on the Iraq border, contrary to what Turkey will tell you.
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Eggplant Kurdish Style
I never use the large, roundish eggplants for this because they have to be soaked in salt water to remove the bitterness. For this recipe, the eggplants must be whole. The slender eggplants in the West, known as "Japanese" or "Chinese" eggplants, are the ones to use for this recipe, as they are not bitter and require no soaking.
Eggplants cooked on coals acquire a smoky, slightly sweet, taste. The addition of red pepper flakes compliments the smoky sweetness very well. This dish can be served with grilled meats or as a meze selection.
6 slender eggplants (called "Japanese" or "Chinese" eggplant and available at Asian markets)
salt to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
one garlic clove, finely chopped
Wash and dry the eggplants. In a grill with hot coals, lay the eggplants directly on the coals, turning them as they char. Cook them until they are completely soft. Don't worry if they turn black on the outside but take care not to let them burn. Remove them from the coals and let them cool a bit. Peel them, removing all the skin with your fingers or a paring knife. Cut off the tops and throw them away. Slice the eggplants on a plate and mash them with a fork. Add salt, red pepper flakes, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, the chopped garlic, and a few squeezes of the lemon. Mix the added ingredients into the eggplant flesh well. Serve just warm or at room temperature.
Alternately, some people leave out the red pepper flakes and garlic, and instead substitute a couple of tablespoons of thick yogurt, like labne, and black pepper to taste.
Cacik--Cold Yogurt and Cucumber Soup
This soup is eaten all over Turkey, including the Kurdish Region. It's included with meals or is used as part of a meze selection, and it's wonderfully cooling on hot summer days.
1/2 lb. cucumbers--preferably "Persian" cucumbers (available at Asian markets)
2 cups whole milk, whole fat yogurt--don't even think of using that nasty low-fat/no-fat kind
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped or 1/4 tsp dried
1 tsp salt or to taste
If you use regular cucumbers, peel and seed them, then coarsely grate. "Persian" cucumbers only need to be grated. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth. Mix in the grated cucumber, vinegar, olive oil, mint, dill, and salt. If the yogurt seems thick, add a bit of water to thin it. Put the cacik in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until it is very cold. Serve in individual bowls, adding ice cubes for extra chill.
Alternately, mash one garlic clove and stir it in with the other ingredients. Leave the clove in the cacik while it chills, but remove it before serving. It will add just a hint of garlic flavor to the cacik.
Ayran (called "Dew" in Kurdish)
Ayran is a yogurt drink that is served everywhere in Turkey. It's especially popular as the drink to accompany grilled meat or kebap meals, although I've had it with other meals as well. It can be made with plain water or with carbonated water. It should be served as cold as possible and it's very cooling and thirst-quenching on hot days.
Whole milk, whole fat yogurt--again, ban the low-fat/no-fat kind
Tap water or carbonated water
salt to taste
You should use equal parts of yogurt and water (for example, two cups yogurt and two cups water). Put the yogurt in a large bowl and whisk it until smooth. Add an equal amount of water and whisk until well blended. Season with salt to taste. If the yogurt seems to make the ayran a bit thick, add a little more water. Ayran should be served very cold. If you use carbonated water, make sure you have chilled it well ahead of time because you will need to serve the carbonated version rather soon after mixing so it doesn't go flat.
Alternately, sprinkle each individual ayran serving with finely chopped mint.