An Eastern Mediterranean feast: three things I’ve always wanted to try

20130421-180528.jpgIt’s my last weekend in Oxford for a while, so Sophie and I decided to have some friends round for dinner last night. I decided to try out some new recipes I’ve been eyeing up for a while. We had lamb stewed with plums and chickpea-stuffed courgettes cooked in yoghurt, with plain pilaf and a seasonal salad. I’m not sure what I was thinking, cooking two entirely new recipes in one afternoon – typical over-reaching on my part – but it was surprisingly unstressful. Both dishes are actually really straight forward, especially the lamb stew. The courgettes were pretty simple too, the only fiddly part was actually stuffing them. However, I did have lots of help. Marloes made the salad; Cassie and Will brought the dips (humus, çaçik, and some kind of crazy-but-glorious pea and wasabi dish); while Sophie made an incredible lime and ginger cheesecake (which I’ll be asking her to guest post about soon!).

20130421-180428.jpgThese are not strictly Turkish dishes – they’re more generic Eastern Mediterranean – but they represent three things I love about this region’s cooking:

  1. Cooking stuff in yoghurt. Yoghurty dishes are everywhere you look in Turkey. I adore that creamy yet sharp taste created by cooked yoghurt cooked, such as you get with mantı (like little ravioli in a yoghurt sauce), but have never tried it myself.
  2. Things stuffed with other things. Stuffed vegetables are another feature of this region’s cooking that I love. Karnıyarık is one of my favourite Turkish dishes – but again, I’ve yet to try much stuffed vegetable cooking myself.
  3. Meat cooked with fruit. My friend Leila once cooked me a wonderful Iranian dish of chicken with plums (I think!), and ever since I’ve wanted to try such a dish myself. It’s that sweet and savoury combination

I’ve got a bit of a write-up backlog at the moment, so I’ll be posting these recipes as a series. First up, stuffed courgettes in yoghurt sauce