There comes a distinctive point in Turkey, where it’s not quite Autumn and yet no longer summer. A few undecided days where a gentle grayscale falls upon the day and winds start to whirl along garden paths like wandering dervishes, knocking windows and mumbling promises of respite from the pressing heat of the ‘pastrami’ summer.
Before you have the chance to get used to the sounds of the rattling gates and rooftop cables, think of thicker sleeves and boots, the claws of summer try to reclaim ownership, stripping away the filter with bursts of bright sunlight. The days can still again feel stifling, tasks still draining but the darkened hours lead to turmoil on whether blankets are required: It’s too hot to sleep comfortably under one but too chilly to discard.
Times like these can leave us pinning for a quick downpour. Enticed by the occasional rumble from far away, the desire to smell the petrichor and claim a well earned day off from watering the arid garden is strong almost enough to overlook the anguish of the spontaneous rivers that flow through the town’s streets once the rainy season truly arrives.
The weekly market hovers undecidedly too, not yet full of autumnal and stocky winter veggies but dwindling offers of summer produce that lacks flavour.
Rain dances, prayers and wishes aside there’s always one snack that screams in-between weather for me and if the earthy scent of wet soil can’t be achieved then the aroma of thin dough toasting on a hot pan is a welcome alternative. Filled, toasted flatbreads decorated with eyes blackened with flavour ‘Gözleme’ with steaming hot çay is perfect alternative weather wishing treat.
Sure you can pick them up easily enough from the weekly farmers market or from the deft hands of the aunts who can make them in their sleep but there’s something therapeutic in opening the balcony doors wide and kneading the dough along with the sounds of whirling, whispering winds of air pregnant with the promise of precipitation.
Gozleme needs very few ingredients. The dough is simply water, flour, oil and salt and the filing is open to the imagination: A leftover mince dish, a little cheese to throw together with herbs lingering in the fridge or a lonely potato that can be thrown in a small pot of water. The possibilities are endless and there are no fast rules.
Should you wish you can prepare a super quick snack by using ready-made purchased yufka, but it’s surprisingly easy to pull together the dough and one should never doubt their rolling skills, any willy-nilly rolling works well enough, the key is a nice thin dough but shape really doesn’t matter.
Place the flour and salt in a bowl, add in the water plus three tablespoons of the olive oil and mix.
Once well-combined place the dough on to a clean, cool surface and knead for ten to fifteen minutes.
The dough should be left to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes but ideally longer.
Ready the filling ingredients and have to hand.
Individual Gözlemes can be made, cooked and served one at a time of batch made and kept under a clean tea towel until serving.
Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan or a curved sheet pan ‘şaç’ to very hot
Divide the rested dough into 8 to 10 portions.
Flour the rolling area, a clean marble worktop is ideal.
Take one of the portions of dough and shape it into a ball, press the ball down to flatten it with the palm of your hand, flip it over and repeat.
Ensuring both below and the top of the dough is sufficiently floured take a rolling pin and begin to roll out dusting flour anytime the dough feels like it may stick.
When the bread is a little smaller than the size of your pan, place a portion of the filling on one half of the circle and fold the dough in half to close it in a half-moon shape.
Alternatively, if you have a smaller pan, place the filling in the centre and fold in all the sides to create a square parcel.
Brush a little oil onto the hot pan or gözleme and using a pizza or fish slice transfer the Gozleme to the hot pan.
After a few minutes when you see the ‘Eyes’ appear, flip the bread over to toast the other side.
Repeat for each of the other portions of dough and filling.
Serve with hot tea, salad and olives
You can find more amazing recipes from Christa at: https://exploringtheturkishkitchen.com/