It feels good to be back to cooking and blogging. But when you have a group of friends with whom you share the same passion and cook along with them, it makes ‘coming back’ even better! For our Avant Garde Cookies journey, the theme for this month was ‘Turkish Cuisine’. Being an absolute Zero in the cuisine, I resorted to my second best skill : Googling! After reading about 100 different articles and recipes (I kid you not) and getting a general idea about the cuisine and the spices that are used in the common Turkish dishes, I set about to make a simple meal of Domatesli Pilav (Doh-maa-tes-lee | Pee-laav) with Kofte.
Actually, I don’t think the both are ever served together. I just decided to join the two. Domatesli is Turkish for tomato and Pilav is just flavored rice. Kofte is nothing but meatballs. Put ‘em together and you have a Turkish Tomato Rice with Turkish Meatballs. Of course, I had to replace the meat for some veggies (I can see a meat lover getting ready to quit this page!) And due to some government declared curfew, we had no groceries at home! Nothing but potatoes! :-/ Not a very exciting veggie to use as the ‘meat substitute’. If I had to, I would use a mixture of Tofu, some cooked kidney beans and some feta cheese as base for the ‘meatball’ mixture. Keep that in mind! Let’s get cooking…
Introducing the cast for MY vegan Turkish meatballs : Onions, cooked potatoes, green chili (or chili powder), cumin powder, salt, sugar, parsley (or cilantro), breadcrumbs or cornflour AND OIL / GHEE / BUTTER. (I have given an alternate to the base ingredients in the recipe below. I believe that mixture will be closer to a ‘meat’ball. But hey! this is pretty awesome too!) You could even make them as a snack/appetizer and serve with a bit of sauce!
In a blender, add all the ingredients but for the potato (or if you’re using – kidney beans, tofu, feta cheese)
Blitz it to a somewhat smooth paste.
Add this mixture to the cooked potatoes. (Or cooked & smashed kidney beans / tofu / feta cheese)
Mix everything well until the potatoes are mashed and the mixture is well incorporated.
If the mixture is too sticky or wet and cannot hold its shape, add cornflour or a good amount of breadcrumbs. If you use potatoes, you’ll need less of the binder as potatoes tend to hold their form. But if your using kidney beans, you’ll need a lot more. Keep adding until the mixture is thick enough to hold form.
Mix well. Check for seasoning and adjust the salt / sugar.
Form lemon size balls and let it rest for 10 minutes. (I let them sit in the refrigerator)
In a large wok, heat oil / butter / ghee. I used a mixture of oil and butter. It gives a better taste.
You could deep fry them if you wanted to, but I just stuck to shallow frying them just well enough to get a nice brown color. Let it cook on one side on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Don’t even touch it. It’ll release itself when it is done.
Flip over and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes until the outside is nice and crisp.
Remove the ‘meat’balls and place them on a tissue paper and rest until the rice is done. Or serve them as it is with ketchup. As an added step, I popped them into a 150C oven for 20 minutes for them to crisp up even more and be hot until the rice is done. But its completely optional.
MEANWHILE … Here’s what you’re gonna need for the Domatesli Pilav – Long grained rice, tomatoes, salt, cumin powder, ground black pepper, onions (optional), oil/ghee/butter & water. (You could make the rice without the meatballs too. Since I had made them prior to making this rice, I left the grease in the pan and used the same for frying my onions & tomatoes)
To your long grained rice, add some salt and cover it with hot water. Let it rest for about 30 minutes. I did this BEFORE I started on the meatballs. However, if you’re pressed for time, skip this step and just wash the rice extremely well and set aside. (the soaking, in my opinion, makes the rice cook faster)
Drain the rice.
Add the oil / ghee to a large wok. I used the same grease that was left after frying my kofte.
Add in the sliced onions and let it cook on high for a minute until it is translucent. (Adding onions is optional)
Add in your finely chopped tomatoes and mix well.
Cover and cook stirring every 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes cook down to form a paste.
Add in the rice and mix well.
Add the salt, pepper & cumin powder and a pinch of sugar.
Add the water and stir well. Taste the water for seasoning. This is the time you can adjust for salt.
Let it come to a boil, stirring gently.
Cover and cook on a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked through.
Garnish with some chopped parsley / cilantro.
Mix with a wooden spoon or a fork gently without breaking the rice & serve!
- TO SERVE:
I served with my no-meat meatbals and some salted onion yogurt. (just mix cold yogurt with salt and add in chopped onions) The combination is divine! The spice of the meatballs, the tartness of the rice and the cooling characteristic of the yogurt was a holy union!
- 2 large boiled and peeled Potatoes (or 1 cup of cooked kidney beans or tofu or feta cheese) (or use any ground meat / meat substitute)
- 3 Tbsp chopped Onions
- 1 Green chilli
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1.5 tsp Salt (adjust according to taste)
- 2 Tbsp Parsley or Coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 1 Tbsp Cornstarch / cornflour (more or less depending on the mixture)
- 1 Tbsp Breadcrumbs (optional. Use if you don't have cornflour)
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 cup Long grained Rice (or any kind)
- 1.5 cups Water to cook (and more) (amount of water will change depending on the kind of rice you use)
- 3-4 medium Tomatoes, finely chopped
- ¼ cup sliced Onions (optional)
- 1 Tbsp Salt (as per taste)
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tsp ground Black Pepper
- Coriander or Parsley leaves for garnish
- 5-6 Tbsp oil or butter or ghee for frying meatballs and for the rice (combined)
- 1 cup cold plain yogurt
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
- To a blender, add the onions, cumin powder, chilli, salt, coriander or parsley, a pinch of sugar and blend / blitz to form a smooth paste
- Add this paste to the cooked potatoes (or smashed kidney beans, tofu or feta cheese) and mix well until the paste is incorporated into the meat substitute you're using.
- Add in cornflour / breadcrumbs until the mixture is thick enough to form balls and hold its form. Check for seasoning.
- Make lemon sized balls and let it rest for 10 minutes. (outside or in the refrigerator)
- Heat 5-6 Tbsp of oil and ghee enough to cover half the balls. Place the balls on the oil without overcrowding the pan.
- Let it cook on one side for 2-3 minutes without disturbing. Repeat the same on the other side. Remove on a tissue paper.
- Set aside until the rice is done. (Or serve it as it is with some kind of sauce)
- Add salt to the rice and soak it in hot water for around 20-30 minutes. This helps the rice to cook faster. But if you don't have the time, just wash it thoroughly. Then drain the rice.
- In the same wok used for the meatballs, add sliced onions to the oil/ghee/butter left in the pan. If you aren't making meatballs, heat some oil in a pan and add the onions.
- Fry for a minute until onions are translucent and add in finely chopped tomatoes. Let it cook on high for 15 minutes, stirring constantly until the moisture cooks away. *Tip: Closing and cooking helps to cook down the tomatoes faster.
- Add in the rice and mix well.
- Add salt, pepper, cumin powder, a pinch of sugar and mix well.
- Add 1.5 cups of water to the rice and mix well. (I always add 2 tbsp extra for good luck! ;))
- Once that comes to a boil, cover and cook on a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked.
- Garnish with chopped coriander / parsley leaves. Fluff up the rice with a wooden spoon or a fork and serve.
- Make onion raita: Beat cold curd well and add in finely chopped onions. Add salt to taste.
- On a platter, serve the rice and arrange the meatballs' on top and the Curd on the side!
VERDICT: I truly truly truly loved it! Next time, I’m gonna try the meatballs with tofu & kidney beans and I’m gonna bake it instead of deep frying. It is a simple meal, but it leaves your taste buds pining for more! I do hope you try this recipe and let me know how you liked it!
To make this recipe, you might require ::::