Pitta of fried sardines and salmon cooked with pomegranate with kisir: the Kurdish recipes of Melek Erdal | Turkish food and drink

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Kurdish food is a tapestry, much like the kurdish people. We absorb and imprint on the spaces we inhabit. It is no coincidence that our symbolic fruit is the pomegranate, the sum making it all. Even when opened and scattered, it is full of gem-like seeds. As a Kurd born in Istanbul and raised in London, I have used food to connect, preserve the past and form a new community. Today’s dishes have flavors that have survived long journeys to distant places simply because they are delicious.

Pomegranate and Sumac Salmon with kisir (thin bulgur salad, photo above)

Kisir salad is a staple in Turkish homes: a celebration of spring and summer and all the fresh herbs they bring. Salmon, to me, is a very London lunch that I’ve spiced up here with Middle Eastern flavors.

Preparation 20 mins
To cook 15 minutes
Serves 2

For the salmon
2 salmon fillets (about 120g each)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
½ teaspoon
sumac
½ teaspoon
Aleppo pepper flakes
2 tablespoons
pomegranate molasses

For the kisir
190g fine bulgur
1 teaspoon each of salt
, aleppo pepper, dried mintblack pepper
1 heaped tablespoon
sauce (tomato and pepper paste) – you can also use regular sun-dried tomato paste
6 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
A
handful of parsleyfinely chopped
2 spring onions
finely chopped
5-6 sheets romaine lettucecut into 1 cm pieces
1 tomato
diced
100g pomegranate seeds

pomegranate molasseswater

Put the bulgur and spices in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover them. Cover with a tea towel or a tray to trap the steam and set aside to cook well.

Add the bulgur salca along with the olive oil and lemon juice and mix thoroughly with your hands, kneading almost like you would dough.

Add parsley and spring onions and stir and mix well again, crumpling and kneading. Add lettuce and tomato, toss gently to combine, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

For the salmon, heat the oven to 210C (190C fan)/400F/gas 6½. Brush the salmon with a drizzle of oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, sumac and Aleppo pepper flakes, brush with pomegranate molasses and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Serve the salmon with the kisir. I suggest drizzling with a little extra pomegranate molasses and some green leafy mix on the side.

Crispy sardines and herbed potato pita

Melek Erdal’s crispy sardines and herbed potato salad in pittas.

It’s a nod to street food in Istanbul. Traditionally, Bosphorus sardines are fried or grilled, and served in a piss bread with onion salad. In my version, I use grilled pitta as a container for seared sardines and an onion and herb potato salad.

Preparation 30 minutes
To cook 30 minutes
Serves 4-6

For the sardines
450g sardines (about 10 fish of 15cm long)
100 g of fine semolina
3
soup sunflower oil or light olive oil
pita breads

For the potato salad
950g red-skinned potatoeshalved
Salt and black pepper
5 spring onions
thinly sliced
45g of parsley
finely chopped
20g
dillfinely chopped, with a little reserve to finish
30g of capers
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the caramelized onions
3 onionspeeled, halved and thinly sliced ​​lengthwise
5 tablespoons of olive oil

½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of cumin
30g currants

For the green sauce
30g basil
20g mint leaves
1 green bird pepper
seeded
Juice and zest 1 lemon
4 tablespoons of olive oil
A
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
½ teaspoon of sumac
A
drizzle of pomegranate molasses

Place the halved potatoes in a deep saucepan and cover 1cm with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until cooked through but still firm. Drain and reserve. Peel when cool – the skins should slide off easily.

Now for the onions. Put the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add the onions, a pinch of salt and a good ground pepper, and cook, stirring for 10 minutes, until they begin to brown and reduce by half . Add the spices and currants, caramelize for another 10 minutes, then leave to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the spring onions, herbs, capers, olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper, then stir in the peeled potatoes.

For the green sauce, coarsely blend all the ingredients except the sumac and pomegranate molasses until coarse and not too smooth. Stir half of the sauce into the bowl of potatoes. Mix the rest with the pomegranate molasses, then sprinkle with sumac and reserved dill, and set aside.

Clean the sardines – you can ask your fishmonger to do this, or cut the middle lengthwise and push the inside out with your thumb. Wash them in a bowl of water, then cut off their heads. Butterfly the sardines by running your thumbs along the inner spine and opening them slightly.

Mix the semolina and a teaspoon of salt on a plate and gently pat the fish into the mixture on both sides, dusting off the excess. Lay the sardines flat on a plate and let rest in the fridge while you prepare the salad.

Heat the sunflower oil in a skillet over high heat and add the fish, fanning them like a flower. Cook over medium-high heat for six minutes on one side and two minutes on the other.

Serve the sardines and potato salad on a platter or stuff them all in pita bread with an extra drizzle of green sauce and molasses.

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