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Playful Eating | Summer Artichokes A simple Turkish dish, the way my aunt made it.

Passport & Plate - Zeytinyagli Enginar

Turkey | Thursday, 5 March 2015 | 5 photos


A collection of photos from my recipe, Zeytinyagli Enginar.

Zeytinyagli is a method in Turkish cuisine cooking with olive oil and served at room temperature or cold. It's healthy and clean and brings out the flavour of fresh, organic ingredients.

This recipe may not be the correct way traditionally but it's the way my aunt makes it. Other ingredients can be added such as garlic, chilli flakes, dill.
All photos taken by Fiona Palacioglu

Ingredients:
*Two firm, even artichokes. The closer the leaves are to the body, the better
*A bowl of lemon or apple/grape vinegar water near-by to stop the artichokes from discolouring
*One Lemon
*1 Turkish tea glass of Olive Oil
*2-3 Turkish tea glass of Water
*Pink Himalayan Salt (or any other salt)

The Recipe:

Cut the stalk from the base so that the artichoke can sit flat.
Cut about an inch off the tip of the artichoke. Snap off a few of the outer leaves and then begin the trim the outer leaves, cutting away the split tips.

*You can remove the choke before cooking or after*

Removing the choke before cooking:
Gently spread the leaves, working from outwards in, be careful of the sharper points as you get to the middle. Take a spoon and begin to scrap the centre of the choke out.
Place into the water while you prepare the pot. This will stop from discolouring and will wash any leftover choke hairs.
Pour in one Turkish tea glass of olive oil.
Squeeze half a lemon and then throw it into the pot.
Place the artichoke into the pot with the base flat.
Pour 2-3 Turkish tea glass of water into the pot (some over the artichoke) and squeeze a wedge of lemon on top and stuff into the centre of the artichoke.
Feel free to add more olive oil at this point. Sprinkle salt. (I use pink Himalayan rock salt)
Close the pressure cooker pot with the lid and steam for about 20-30 minutes or until it starts to whistle on a low-medium heat.
Let the steam out and take the lid off, let artichokes cool.
Serve in a bowl with the zingy, olive liquid basted over. More fresh lemon on top is ideal.
Best served room temperature the next day so that flavours will develop.

Removing the choke after cooking.

Peel a leaf away at a time, dip it into the olive liquid and gently scrape the flesh from the meat, discard the leaf into a separate bowl.
When you reach the centre, the leaves will be softer, some soft enough to eat whole. When you reach the choke (furry dome), take your spoon or fork and gently scrape away from the heart which will be the base, taking care not to catch it. With care, the choke can come away in large pieces.
Enjoy the tender and tasty heart in the zesty juice.

If a pressure cooker (much preferred) is not available, a pot with a lid will do. (Cook for 2 hours or until tender)

The story behind my recipe:

It was a late summer afternoon and the sun had passed our apartment leaving us in the cool shade, a breeze blowing through the balcony was welcoming in the heat.
My cousin and I sat at the table with a bowl full of huge artichokes bigger than my fist. They looked like a glossy murky brown plant and I couldn't figure out how they were considered delicious, I was bewildered. I watched her with both hands devouring the khaki green leaves. One by one she would scrape the flesh as her lips would smack and a lipgloss sheen would remain.
A mountain of discarded leaves piled up in another bowl as she moved on to the next globe. My face must have been a picture!
I tried a leaf to see what the fuss was all about. It was a simple combination of lemon juice and olive oil that brought out the flavours in the earthy, nutty almost artichoke.

When I arrived back to England, I bought a couple of artichokes from my local Turkish supermarket and looked for a recipe on Google. It wasn't as good as my aunt's dish but it was delicious. I tasted my culture, my family traditions, my curiosity. I felt full on my achievement.
Every week I would buy two artichokes to cook for myself to continue to enrich my Turkish identity. I mastered the simple recipe and the intricate way to savour it.

Although it's a fresh dish with clean flavours and a delightful example of a Turkish summer cuisine, it's the way to be enjoyed that really intrigued me. If it's at the table the guests are bound to talk about it, equally it will bring conversation to the table. There's no rush when enjoying an artichoke true Mediterranean table style. It's a fun, playful experience. It's a little similar to plucking the petals from a daisy reciting 'He Loves me, He loves me not'. With patience, good will follow - the shedding of the leaves with provide the lucky one a taste of heart, of love. Even artichokes have hearts they say, and they do - they taste of togetherness, passion and life!

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