turkish food

Our local market had some really nice-looking eggplants the other day, so I decided to pick up a couple and whip something up. When coming up with an idea for the dish, I decided to refer to some of the eggplant experts: the countries that live along the Mediterranean coast. Italy seemed too easy, so I went with Turkey instead, who have several classic eggplant dishes. Karniyarik is a stuffed eggplant dish from Turkey, similar to another popular Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi, which is similar but made without ground meat.

Eggplants got their name from their egg-like shape, although they are referred to as aubergines nearly everywhere outside of the United States. Eggplants were probably first cultivated in India about 2,000 years ago, before making their way to the Middle East and Europe. It was one of the first foods brought to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.

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My friends at Lava Lake Lamb recently started carrying grass-fed beef, and I jumped at the chance to give some of it a try. One particular challenge came in finding a unique, yet somewhat traditional, way of preparing sirloin steak; it’s a very simple cut, which fares the best with a simple preparation (garlic, salt, and pepper are usually perfect). Luckily, after some digging I discovered quite a few different ways that people grill this steak in Turkey, so I developed a recipe based on some of those traditional Turkish methods.

It’s hard to find specific history related to grilled beef steaks in Turkey – in fact, many regions only ate meat during special celebrations until very recently. My guess is that this particular preparation is relatively new to the country, probably only 50 years old. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter – this steak was delicious, regardless of how long people have been cooking it!

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