Available in every street market, it’s the red food stall always in action; bursting with women continuously kneading, chopping, filling and frying; supervised by one man with frown eyes who basically takes your order and finalise your dish with a lemon wedge.
If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m talking about the Turkish Gozleme, made of lavash bread folded around a variety of fillings such as spinach, cheese and parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle.
Turkish cuisine derived from the Ottoman cuisine, refined by Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Dated back to the Ottoman Empire; when Sultan Mehmet the Second conquered Istanbul in 1453; Turkey’s colonies extended from North Africa, Persia and the Middle East to the Balkans and Greece. In this period, thousand chefs were employed to create an extravagant cuisine. Although, my mother alone can throw the same feast within hours; the thousand something chefs used all the resources at their disposal, and came up with their version of kebabs, pilaf, dolmas and pastries like baklava and Turkish delight. Travel around Turkey today, and you will come across a lot of similarities, it is not clear which is authentic and which was modified; but just to name a few; kebab in Turkey is shawarma in Syria and Lebanon, and Turkish gozleme is spanakopita in Cyprus and Greece…
When I started reading about Turkish street food, I wanted to find something only particular to Turkey and came across a very popular sandwich, known as Balik Ekmek; a freshly cooked fish served inside a bun of bread, prepared and served straight from the boat. Although Turkish food shops are available in abundance in Sydney, I exhausted all my resources to find one stall that makes this fish sandwich and couldn’t find any. Beside pides and Kebabs; Gozleme gained an exceptional popularity and is very easy to find in street markets, The struggle remains in getting the spelling right of “Gozleme” which derives from the Turkish word “goz” meaning “box”, referred to various toppings sealed within a dough. This little box carries a surprising savoury flavour and it takes a squeeze of lemon to unleash it all in your mouth. The citrus burst is so exhilarating you will find your mind spinning in ecstatic joy of a whirling dancer! don’t get too excited it could also mean you are dehydrated..
If you happen to be in Chatswood on Thursday and Friday night, head to Victoria Avenue and look for those large arms kneading dough in all directions. On Saturdays, street markets in Glebe, Bondi, Paddington and North Sydney will all have this famous red stall, selling vegetarian fillings for approximately $8.00/Gozleme, add $1.00 or $2.00 for Chicken or beef.
Combine 300ml warm water, with 8g sachet instant dried yeast, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon caster sugar in a jug. Stir with a fork then cover in a warm place for 5 minutes.
Once you see bubbles, sift 3 cups of plain flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix to form a soft dough. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes elastic. Cut dough into 4. Place on a greased baking tray. Cover with a clean tea towel until the dough doubles in size.
Roll each piece into a 35cm x 45cm rectangle. Place one-quarter of spinach over half of each rectangle. Top with feta and season with salt and pepper. Fold dough over to enclose filling. Press edges together to seal.
To reach that state of ecstatic trance,
forget about the whirling dance,
just squeeze a wedge of lemon
to get to taste a piece of heaven.