Chilled grilled aubergine soup

Prep 10 min
Cook 35 min
Chill 2 hr+
Serves 2

4 big aubergines (about 1kg)
3 red romano peppers
4 garlic cloves
, peeled and crushed
Juice of 3 lemons
tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tbsp extra to finish
100g shelled walnuts
, crushed
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp Turkish chilli
, such as pul biber
Salt and black pepper
1 tsp dried mint
, to finish

Turn on the grill to its highest possible setting (or fire up the barbecue). Put the aubergines and peppers on an oven tray and grill, turning often (or barbecue directly over the coals), until charred all over and soft on the inside – the peppers will need five to 10 minutes and the aubergines 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel off the blackened skins, and remove the stalks, seeds and pith from the peppers. Put the aubergine flesh on a tray for five to 10 minutes, during which time any bitter juices inside will seep out.

Give the pepper and aubergine flesh a quick chop, then put it all in a food processor with the minced garlic and pulse for just four or five seconds – you’re after a chunky, not smooth consistency here.

Tip into a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and 500ml cold water, then whisk to combine, still keeping that chunky texture. Check the seasoning, chill for at least a couple of hours, and serve with a sprinkling of dried mint and a good drizzle of olive oil on top.

Grilled sardines wrapped in vine leaves

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 2

For the fish
Salt and black pepper
6 decent-sized sardines
, scaled and gutted
6 fresh vine leaves – if you can’t get any, use the pickled ones in jars from Turkish and Middle Eastern food stores
Sunflower oil
, for brushing

For the salad
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp capers, drained (or rinsed if packed in salt)
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar

Season the fish generously inside and out, then wrap each one in a vine leaf, leaving the head and tail exposed.

Put all the salad ingredients in a bowl and leave to steep.

Heat a griddle pan on the stove (or fire up a barbecue). Brush the wrapped fish all over with sunflower oil, then lay in the hot pan and cook for three to four minutes on each side – you want some caramelisation on the vine leaves. Transfer the fish to a platter and serve with the salad and, ideally, a glass of rakı.

Spicy bulgur salad with tomato, urfa chilli and sour cherries

Spicy bulgur salad with tomato, isot chilli and sour cherries

Prep 15 min
Soak 1 hr
Serves 2

1 big beef tomato, roughly chopped
250g sour cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted – if you can’t find sour cherries, use an extra beef tomato instead
125g fine bulgur wheat
1 spring onion
, trimmed and chopped
1 English cucumber, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
30g fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
30g flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sumac
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp isot (AKA urfa) chilli
1 tbsp pul biber
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and black pepper

Put the tomato and cherries in a blender, and blitz to a smooth puree. Tip into a bowl, add the bulgur and 100ml cold water, and leave to soak for about an hour, until the bulgur softens and becomes chewable. Transfer the mix to a serving bowl, stir in all the remaining ingredients, season to taste – it should be refreshing and a bit tangy – and serve as a side dish.

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