Autumn falls – and Ottomans cook!

Walking today in the woods, the first fallen leaves rustling underfoot, made me long for a fire – and a taste of this slightly smoky dip taken, of course, from Yashim’s new cook bookimg_4631Aubergine (or eggplant) puree

patlican salatası

A classic Ottoman meze, absolutely worth doing whenever you fire up a charcoal grill. Unlike the real thing, ‘poor man’s meat’ is very forgiving on the grill, so you can start the aubergines off as soon as the coals get hot. The flame gives the finished puree an irresistible smoky taste. Don’t forget the humble home fire, either. If you are burning wood in your fireplace, or maybe a woodburner, use it: an aubergine takes only a few minutes to cook.



aubergines (eggplant) 2

garlic 2 cloves, crushed and chopped

olive oil 2 tbsps

juice of 1 lemon

plain yoghurt 225g/8oz



lemon wedges


If you can rotate the aubergines over charcoal, so much the better: char the skins and pop the aubergines into a plastic bag when the flesh is pulpy. Otherwise, burn the skins on the gas or prick the aubergines with a fork, wrap them in foil and cook for at least half an hour in the hottest oven. 

Hold the aubergine by the stalk and peel away the skin. Scrape the flesh away with a spoon. Drop the flesh into a colander, and squeeze it gently to get rid of some of the water.

Put the aubergines on a board and chop them to a pulp, while they continue to drain. Sweep them into a bowl, and mix in the garlic, the oil and the lemon juice. When they are well mixed, add the yoghurt, a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper and beat again. Check for seasoning.

Serve the puree with a drizzle of olive oil and wedges of lemon, to eat on crusty bread.

Some simple pide

Some simple pide

Everything connects, of course, and given centuries of war and exchange between Russia and the Ottoman Empire it should come as no surprise that the Russians, substituting sauteed onion and tomato for the yoghurt, wisely adopted this as their ‘poor man’s caviar’. Versions of both are very popular across the Caucasus.

This is just one of dozens of the recipes from Yashim Cooks Istanbul, out in the UK on Thursday October 27th and in the USA on November 15th. Signed copies are available, postage free anywhere in the world. Just click on this link:

0 thoughts on “Autumn falls – and Ottomans cook!

  1. Jillian Wilkinson

    thank you for the cookery book which arrived today. Am busily making lentil soup, puzzled by no mention of a lemon, maybe will add the juice when serving. I will work out how to have a charcoal fire just to roast the aubergines…maybe in the greenhouse.

    Well done! will give a review on amazon, and spread the word, all good wishes Jillian >

    1. jasongoodwin Post author

      Thank you Jillian! You got it with the lemon, exactly – and nb the aubergines can roast on a wood fire, no charcoal required, if you ever make one in the grate? Winter drawing in, etc. All best to you, Jason

  2. Aneri

    My copy, has arrived just on 27th October – I don’t recall when I was waiting so impatiently for a book 🙂 After trying “kuru fasulye” as a volunteer have in plans “Lentil soup” 🙂

    1. jasongoodwin Post author

      I am so pleased you have the book! The soups are good, and there are lots of other vegetarian dishes you might like. I hope you like the way the book looks and works.

      1. Aneri

        I’ve forgot – Thank you for signing my copy :). Yes, it works perfectly in the kitchen – pages stays on the recipe so it can be left without any pressing thing and the recipe won’t change by accident. Will be a lot of culinary fun !


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