Monday, June 18, 2012

As soon as I saw this familiar pile of red and green peppers at the pazar, I asked if they were hot peppers in Turkish.

Somehow, I had stumbled upon a gigantic pile of REAL jalapeños at the Saturday pazar in Beşiktaş in Istanbul. This is the first time, in my two years of living here, I have found REAL jalapeños at the pazar!
About 6 tl per kilo!
Immediately, I asked the pazar stall next door, overflowing with fresh herbs and lettuces, if he had taze kışnış (fresh cilantro). My husband secured the cilantro while I picked up my jalapeños.

Soon, we would be making my fresh salsa recipe!

Moments like these rarely happen here. Usually, I have to go to several markets/stores to find all my ingredients. It's not easy finding Mexican, Indian or Asian ingredients in Istanbul. However, I have started seeing more and more foreign ingredients appear at the large grocery stores.
Hot sauces galore at the REAL Merkezi in Fulya, Istanbul.

Here are some substitutes I've made for Mexican ingredients while living in Turkey:

·         cilantro (kışnış) - Sometimes you are lucky to find it at a pazar. Check your large grocery stores such as MacroCenter, REAL or Carrefour.

·         acı biber (hot pepper) = jalapenos

·         suzme yoğurt = sour cream

·         Turkish lavaş = flour tortillas

·         pul biber = ground hot pepper flakes

·         kaşar peynir = cheddar cheese

And the best substitute yet is using nacho cheese-flavored Doritos for tortilla chips! Generally, MacroCenter carries bags of tortilla chips (for 12 tl), but it would've have taken me nearly an hour to go there and back again.

As an expat, you learn to adapt. Expats learn to improvise. And you learn you can still make delicious tasting food with different ingredients.

So I prepared my Turkish ingredients for a complete Mexican meal at our apartment in Istanbul. Hubby played the role of bartender, making us homemade nar-garitas, and as my dishwasher.

As you can see, we had lovely Turk-Mex meal of chicken soft tacos and all the fixings, salsa and spicy corn.

Afiyet olsun!

Grilled Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
Marinades are generally an oil mixed with some spices or a mixture of oil, an acid and some spices. I went with the latter option this time.

1 1/2    lb.        (750 g.) boneless chicken thighs or breasts
1/3       c.                     sunflower or vegetable oil      
1/4       c.                     fresh lime juice
4-6       ea.                    garlic cloves, finely chopped
1          T.                     fresh parsley, finely chopped (or substitute fresh cilantro)
1          tsp.                  cumin
1          tsp.                  dried oregano
1          tsp.                  pul biber (I used a bit of ground chili ancho pepper I have from the US.)
1/2       tsp.                  salt
1/4       tsp.                  ground black pepper

Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Cover the chicken with the marinade and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Then, use an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to cook the chicken. I used my indoor grill pan, turned the chicken once, and it took about 15 minutes. Slice the chicken into small strips.

Serve the chicken strips on a platter  with warmed tortillas and your favorite taco fixings.

Spicy Corn Side Dish
1          T.                     sunflower oil
1          ea.                    medium onion, diced small
1          ea.                    garlic clove, diced small
1          ea.                    jalapeño, diced small
1          ea.                    red pepper, diced small
1          ea.                    green pepper, diced small
1 pkg. (500 g.)             frozen corn
1/2       c.                     water
1          T.                     fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1          tsp.                  cumin
As needed                   salt, pul biber, black pepper
1          T.                     butter

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, red and green pepper. Sauté  until softened, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the corn and water. Cook for 10 minutes. 

Then add the spices and butter.

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BacktoBodrum said...

For us Brits who need a translation. Cilantro is fresh coriander.
I think you've just decided tonight's supper for me.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i love a good challenge. i just made these the other day with ouled pork! sorry!!! heheh!

Joy said...

@BacktoBodrum, happy to provide some inspiration! And yes, fresh coriander, wonder why Americans call it that instead?

@Joyce, soooo jealous of your pulled pork! ;-)

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

Looks amazing! Great that you can get these peppers in Istanbul!

Anonymous said...

Joy, both these recipes look amazing! I'm back in the states, so getting ingredients isn't an issue, but sometimes I need some inspiration, and you hit the nail on the head!

Alyson said...

I am always wishing I could find real black beans here. Kidney beans do great in the meat, but a side of black beans always make it REAL mexican food!

Anonymous said...

@Alyson Tart: Real Market in Umraniye have black beans.

Joy said...

@Allyson Tart, My REAL in Fulya does not carry black beans but I have gotten mine from the Macro in Nisantasi. The one in Kurucesme often has hard-to-find items too...that's where I found fish sauce. :-)

Here's my Turklish black bean recipe I made last year:
Joy’s Spicy Black Bean and Ground Beef One-Pot Recipe

BTW, Just made some fresh salsa to go with our Doritos and leftovers tonight. ;-) Those jalapenos are spicy!!

Anonymous said...

The problems we have here in Selcuk are getting limes and coriander (cilantro). We try to grow it but the first lot just ran to seed. We have jalapeno seed (from a friend) - the plants are just starting to flower so we're not sure what they will taste like yet. We do miss Mexican food (can't get black beans either). Would love to see the recipe for Nar-garitas!

Julia said...

All looks lovely, Joy. We get the jalepenos here on the pazar in Fethiye and we get the sliced ones on the deli in the supermarket. Glad BacktoBodrum told us Brits what cilantro is. ;) We can get that in Hisarönü, up the mountain. Cooler up there so it must grow easier there. It dies straight away, here. As for the sour cream, I mix a bit of labne into the süzme yoghurt. Obviously not the real thing but fun to improvise and experiment. :)

Karen said...

Oh, that looks delicious. Tex-Mex is one of the things I miss the most. I just read that someone started a Tex-Mex food truck in Paris and the entire expat community went into shivers of excitement! How I do love this food. Joy, that all looks fabulous, and well done on putting it together.

KGG said...

great news about jalapenos in besiktas! where did you find the cilantro (which manav?). i grow it but it's gone to seed now and it would be great to find a true bunch of cilantro, not those tiny little clamshells from macro (which is far away from me anyway).

Joy said...

@KGG, At the Cumartesi Besiktas Pazari, there is a stall towards the front that has a large selection of fresh herbs and lettuces as well as other veggies. He's close to the yumurta and yufka stall. I spied his beautiful looking kekik and asked if he had taze kisnis and he has for the last 3 weeks.

My cilantro I started from seed didn't do so well either. I think it got too hot too fast here this summer.

Anonymous said...

I'm new here (4 months in) and have not found Limes anywhere! Am I missing something? I'm a slightly homesick pregnant Texan, so Mexican ingredients are all that I'm craving right now! I did score some Chipotles in Adobo and canned black beans and refried beans at Gourmet Garage in Cekmekoy yesterday!

Joy said...

@Anonymous, We almost always found our limes at the REAL in Fulya or at one of the Macrocenters in Nisantasi. There are several Macrocenters located in Istanbul. And sometimes, we'd randomly see them at one of the pazars, but that was rare! We always had limes in house for our Friday night cocktails at home.

Macro and REAL also usually carries some salsa, tortilla chips, fajita spice mix, black beans, etc.

I know it's not easy finding Mexican food in Istanbul, but it is possible to make some adaptations! Good luck! :-)