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Salads, Mezes and Side Dishes

Side/accompanying dishes form such a rich category within Turkish cuisine that they could be addressed as a subject in themselves. The salads, pickles, meze (appetizers), cacık, and some greens do not only add variety to the main dishes, but are also complimentary to them. For example the vegetables, spices and greens eaten along with oily meat dishes serve to lighten the meal.

Some of these dishes even appear as main dishes. But it must be noted that when these foods do not accompany another dish, they are always eaten with bread; in other words, they are the katık, the food to compliment bread. Onions, salt and bread, piyaz (bean salad) and bread; tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and bread, etc. Although such consumption is still common, with the spread of local cuisines these accompanying foods are more and more used only to accompany a dish. In this way they have become a broad palette of flavors.

Although the various meze, salads and pickles occur in neighboring cuisines, their flavors in Turkish cuisine are different from the rest. For example there is a large variety of regional styles of pickles. Originally simply a method of preserving vegetables, the making of pickles later developed further to become a favorite side dish with extreme variety. Just as every region has its own ingredients, there are also different pickling methods from region to region, which is further reason for these local flavors.

The same is true of salads. In addition to a large number of salads, there are many which are indispensable to local Turkish food traditions. Some of these include ezme (a sort of “Turkish salsa” from the southeast), purslane salad, bostana, etc. Below are some of the most notable of Turkish salads, pickles and special side dishes, and short recipes.

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Salatalar, Mezeler ve Eşlik Yiyecekleri

Patlıcan Salatası
Eggplant Salad


1 kg eggplant
1 onion
5-6 “sivri” peppers (fresh red pepper may also be used)
2-3 tomatoes
2-3 T olive oil
1 bunch parsley
Juice of one lemon

Cooke peppers over hot coals or on a gas flame till soft and the skin is burned and blistered, remove skins and place in a sieve to drain. Cook the peppers and tomatoes in the same way, peel. Chop the eggplant finely without mashing it. Chop the tomatoes and peppers and place in a deep bowl. Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then cut into thin half rings, knead with salt, then wash well. Wash parsley and chop finely. Mix all the ingredients, and serve with a squeeze of lemon. If you like it spicy, you may use Maraş pepper flakes.

Patates Salatası
Turkish Potato Salad


1 kg potatoes
1 bunch parsley
5-6 scallions
Salt, pepper to taste
2 t cumin
1 T tomato
Juice of one lemon
3 T olive oil

Boil potatoes, remove skins, cool and cut into 2-cm cubes. Put into a deep bowl and add finely chopped green onion and parsley. In a separate bowl combine lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin and olive oil, and mix with the potatoes. Red flake pepper (Maraş or Aleppo pepper) may also be added.

Kuru Fasulye Piyazı
White Bean Salad


2 c dry navy beans
1 bunch parsley
2 tomatoes
1 onion (scallions are also an option)
3-4 green “sivri” peppers
Juice of one lemon
Salt, black pepper
1 egg, hard boiled

Soak the beans overnight. The next day, boil them until they are tender but not mushy. Wash and finely chop parsley. Peel the tomatoes and cut into small cubes. Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then cut into thin half rings, knead with salt, wash well and squeeze out excess water. Chop the green peppers. Mix all the ingredients and top with slices of boiled egg.

Börülce Salatası
Blackeyed Pea Salad


½ kg fresh shelled blackeyed peas
6-7 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ c vinegar
Salt to taste
¼ c olive oil

Boil fresh blackeyed peas in plenty of water, drain and cool. Add the remaining ingredients and allow to rest several hours for the flavors to meld.

Kırmızı Lahana Salatası
Red Cabbage Salad


1 whole red cabbage
3-4 scallions
1 T chopped parsley
2-3 T olive oil
1 c vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon

Slice red cabbage thinly, and sprinkle liberally with salt. Knead with the salt, then wash well. Add vinegar and enough water to cover and allow to rest a few days in a glass jar. Chop scallions and parsley and mix with a portion of the cabbage in a deep bowl, and top with olive oil and lemon. The remaining red cabbage can be kept in the vinegar water and will not spoil, it is ready for use at any time.

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