Turkish Stuffed Peppers or Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma (My Mum’s recipe)

DPP_00022 (1280x960)We have this supermarket called Gima in Auburn. For those of you who don’t know; Auburn is a suburb located in Western Sydney. Gima was the name of a supermarket chain back in Turkey. Although it doesn’t exist there anymore, it is still alive in Auburn, Sydney. The bigger portion of Turkish community lives in Auburn and because of that, Gima is doing incredibly well. We do our Turkish grocery shopping there too. They sell anything that Australian customs allow into Australia –Turkish flour is not one of those things by the way.

Some Turks, grow certain Turkish vegetables around the area and you can buy them from the shops. So, when I spotted these peppers at Gima on one of our trips, I knew exactly what to do with them. The recipe I have here is my Mum’s. It’s funny, I never liked this dish when I was in Turkey but now it’s something that I can’t get anymore, it has have become one of my favourites. Here’s the recipe Peoples…

Turkish Stuffed Peppers or Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma (My Mum’s recipe)
8 small green peppers
1 cup medium-grain white rice, washed and rinsed
1 onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp dried currants
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp dried mint
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper

• Cut the tops of peppers and remove the stalks. Get rid of all the seeds and trim down the membranes too.
• Mix together the onion, rice, oil, pine nuts, dried currants, mint, allspice, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
• Loosely stuff the peppers and put the lids back on.
• Place them in a small pot and add some boiling water to the level of the lids. If you pass that mark then the stuffing releases itself into the pot and you end up with half-stuffed peppers.
• Cook the peppers over medium heat until their colour is slightly turning yellow and the rice is thoroughly cooked.
• Let them cool in the very pot you’ve cooked them in and serve when cold. Afiyet Olsun Peoples!

Franchia Vegan Café, New York


We discovered Franchia on the night we wanted to go back to HanGawi and found it closed due to some paint work happening inside. The big guy from the big door recommended this sister place called Franchia and told us to check it out. We did what we were told and discovered yet another tasty spot in New York.

d71febf470ff2fe26f5f608e91a07b2cAlthough the food was exceptional, I remember more about the ceiling and an ancient gong as part of the décor vividly. The ceiling is a replica in beautiful greens, clearly, deserves to be a part of some Korean palace. The gong on the other hand, is taken from an old temple. That’s what we were told by the waiter anyway. The walls are decorated with poems from 15th, 16th century like this one:


6d1e61ab07ba24e88c437779e35ae945Franchia has an extensive tea menu. From herbal to white, it is a very big menu just for tea. When it comes to food we sat at the balcony here’s what we had:
• Soy “Chicken Satay” sticks with bbq sauce
• Vegetarian “duck” in stone bowl rice
• Sautéed string beans and vegetables with preserved radish
• And sorbet for dessert


Garlicky Endive, VegFusion Style

DPP_00028 (1280x1107)I have made a conscious decision some time ago to add more greens to my diet. So, I am experimenting with all kinds of green leafy vegetables at the moment. On top of my list, there is endive greens. I actually didn’t have a plan when I bought these prickly looking greens but Italians came to the rescue.
My recipe is another hybrid one but what can I do: I have my own style. So I improvised, again!

Endive greens are quite bitter so I balanced it with fresh garlic and used lemon juice to freshen it up. I must admit, I am quite happy with the results. The recipe below is enough for 4 as a side dish. If you’re greedy like me, you could have the whole thing for lunch all by yourself.

Garlicky Endive, VegFusion Style

1 large bunch endive, washed and cut into small pieces (about an inch long)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Generous amount of olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper

• Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook gently without browning.
• Start adding the endive although it is better if you start with the tougher parts first as they take longer to cook. At this stage, it will look like you don’t have enough space for the whole bunch but as they cook, the endive wilts nicely, making room for more. Once the whole thing is in season with salt and pepper.
• Cover and braise for 10 to 15 minutes. Just before you serving, drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice. You’re done!

HanGawi, New York

There is no doubt that HanGawi is my favourite restaurant in New York. Not that I have been to every single vegetarian/vegan place in the city but I have been to quite a few. Anyway, so far, HanGawi is the one for me.

hangawi interiorWe discovered HanGawi on our second trip to New York when we decided to celebrate our birthdays which are only a day apart. After the discovery, I knew that was the place to celebrate my birthday (please refer to photo).

???????????“A vegetarian shire in another space and time” is how they describe their place and that is absolutely true. HanGawi is tucked in quietly in Korea Town. There is a big guy outside, in front of a big door, wearing traditional Korean outfit, very much like the one they made me wear for my birthday photo. I wonder if it is the same outfit. Well, the question still hangs in the air.

When you go inside, they ask you –kindly –to take your shoes off before entering the restaurant and offer you a pair of beautifully embroidered, colourful slippers. Then you are led to one of those low tables with a square hall under them for your feet to dangle.

155159_175049222518128_3556876_nHere’s what we had on our first night at HanGawi:
Vegetarian Stone Bowl Rice (assortment of vegetables over rice served in hot stone bowl with hot chilli paste on the side)
Tofu and Mushrooms in Lemon Ginger Sauce
House Sake (Sake is served warm and is absolutely divine. We had to buy ourselves a sake set on our return to Sydney)
Mango Sorbet (they do tofu ice cream as well)

On my birthday, we had:
Vegetarian Dumplings (steamed)
Sautéed Organic Maitake Mushrooms with Asparagus
Kimchi Stone Bowl Rice (spicy preserved Korean cabbage with vegetables served in hot stone bowl)
Tofu Cheese Cake (that’s what I had, being the birthday girl and everything)
Sorbet Trio (three layers of sorbet served with fresh fruit)

12E 32nd Street (between 5th and Madison Ave)
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212 213 0077/212 213 6068
Fax: 212 689 0780
Email: info@hangawirestaurant.com

Business Hours
Mondays to Thursdays:
Lunch: 12:00pm to 2:45pm
Dinner: 5:00pm to 10:15pm (last seating)
Lunch: 12:00pm to 2:45pm
Dinner: 5:00pm to 10:30pm (last seating)
Lunch: 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Dinner 3:00pm to 10:30pm (last seating)
Sundays: Only dinner menu is served
5:00pm to 9:30pm (last seating)

Credit cards accepted: American Express, Visa, Master and Diners.
Dress code: Chic and casual

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves or Lahana Sarma

It took me 12 years in Australia to make an attempt to this intricate dish. It is always tricky anyway as you never learn this dish from a cookbook. You never know how many leaves you’re going to get from 1 cabbage. You somehow learn to adjust the cabbage leave-stuffing mixture ratio over time. Besides, the cabbage you get over here is different. So I did my best to get the measurements right in this recipe.

Traditionally, mincemeat stuffed cabbage sarmas are served with yoghurt. Although, I haven’t found the ultimate yoghurt replacement yet, you could try and mix Tofutti sour cream with lemon juice to have a similar effect. Not perfect but very close. The recipe below yields 20 sarmas which is enough for 4 people as a main dish. Afiyet olsun Peoples!

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves or Lahana Sarma

20 cabbage leaves

For the stuffing mixture:
½ cup TVP
½ cup medium grain rice, rinsed and drained well
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp concentrated tomato paste
1 tsp hot pepper paste
1tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp Massel Stock Powder (beef style)
1 tsp dried mint

To cook:
½ tsp concentrated tomato paste
½ tsp hot pepper paste
Boiled water

To make the stuffing mixture: Place the TVP in a large bowl with pepper and tomato paste. Sprinkle with the stock powder and add boiled water. The whole mixture should be covered. Stir well until the pastes are dissolved, then add dried mint and salt. Drizzle with oil and stir again.
To prepare the leaves: Boil some water in a large pot and add the cabbage leaves 3 at a time, making sure that they are emerged well into the water. Boil the leaves for 5 minutes and drain. Cut the large leaves into two and remove the tough part during the process as well.
To stuff the leaves: Get yourself 2 large flat plates; one for the rolling process and the other one for rolled ones. I actually don’t like to work on a chopping board as it is messier that way. Lay a cabbage leaf on the plate and place 1 tbsp of filling at the wider, thinner side of the leaf and spread the filling. Fold the sides over the filling and then the top bit. Roll firmly towards the tip. Pop it onto the other plate and repeat with the remaining filling and leaves. Judging by the number of stuffed cabbages; choose the right size of a heavy-based, stainless steel saucepan. First, line the bottom of it with some unusable leaves. Use the ugly, broken ones for the job and save the good looking ones for show  Pack the sarmas tightly in one layer and then another on top.
To cook: Boil some water and mix it with ½ tsp of tomato paste and ½ tsp of pepper paste, making sure that it is well dissolved. Pour it over the sarmas and cover with an inverted plate. The reason for this is that you need enough water to cook the rice in the filling but once it starts boiling sarmas start to float around. To make things worse, it doesn’t matter how tightly they are wrapped, they release their content into the water. That’s not what you want. Now, put the lid on and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until all that water is absorbed and the rice is cooked thoroughly.

Nyonya Style Faux-Fish Curry

Nyonya (also spelt Nonya) or Peranakan cuisine is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian cooking. Although they use a lot of shrimp paste, we still like this unique cuisine’s aromatic tanginess which is nicely blended with spices and herbs. Even without shrimp paste, it is still quite interesting and different.

nyonya style faux-fish curry (1280x886)

The first time we were introduced to this aromatic cuisine was at Eight Treasures Restaurant in Singapore in 2010. Some of you may remember my post about this place and its food some time ago. If you don’t then it means you’re not following my posts. In that case, well, have a nice life :)

Anyway, we had this particular vegan version of Singapore Nyonya Curry at Eight Treasures. Of course, they didn’t give me the recipe. I did ask! In fact, the owner said something like this: “If you have my recipe, I might have to kill you.” Well, I’m still alive but I don’t have her recipe as you may have figured it out yourself. What I have, though, a non-vegan cookbook on Nyonya cuisine which I bought while in Singapore. I thought I could figure something out on my return to Australia. Here’s how it worked out for me:

  • The vegetable ensemble of my recipe here comes from Traditional Nonya Cuisine by Lucy Koh even though I don’t use brinjals. The original recipe in this book uses fish head, by the way, which is staring back at you in the photo. So you could say the original dish has a face.
  • The actual Singapore Nyonya curry paste came from a jar. A friend of ours –who is from India by the way –told us that we could get a “safe” Nyonya curry from Asian supermarkets in Sydney. Safe meaning no shrimp paste. We found it in Chatswood.

And that’s how it all came together Peoples. Enjoy!

Nyonya Style Faux-Fish Curry

8 pieces Lamyong Chunky Fish, thawed
½ bottle Tropicana Singapore Nyonya Curry Sauce, stirred well before use (I use a teaspoon for the job)
1 cup okra (lady’s fingers), I used frozen ones
½ onion, cut into thin wedges
1 large tomato, peeled and cut into small wedges (If you don’t peel them the skin turns into Spock’s ears)
270 ml coconut milk
1 cup soy milk
Vegetable oil to fry the faux-fish
Steamed rice to serve

• Pan-fry the faux-fish with a little bit of vegetable oil, making sure all the sides are browned lightly. Remove the faux-fish and set aside.
• Heat the Nyonya curry sauce and coconut milk in a wok on medium heat. Stir well to dissolve the lumps. Then add the soy milk. Check its heat and if you find it too hot add more coconut milk.
• Add the okra, onions and tomatoes. Lightly cook the vegetables on low heat until they are soft.

Shepherd’s Salad with Sumac – Sumaklı Çoban Salata

It seems like I log on to Ozlem’s Turkish Table whenever I need some original, well written Turkish recipes which are tested in Western world. I tried her Karides Güveç the other day. I was particularly happy with this güveç which turned out incredibly fast, easy and delicious. Of course, I substituted shrimps in Ozlem’s recipe with Lamyong vegetarian prawns and cut them into shrimp size as we all know that they are quite big. I’m afraid I don’t have a photo of it but that is some dish I see myself making over and over again. You never know, it might find itself on VegFusion one day.

sumakli coban salata(1280x928)

The recipe for Shepherd’s Salad with Sumac or Sumaklı Çoban Salata comes from Ozlem’s blog too -my version has a few changes which can be seen in the photo however, Ozlem’s recipe is the correct one. Shepherd’s Salad is a traditional Turkish side salad which is quite colourful, fresh and complimentary to pretty much every dish in Turkish cuisine. Hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do and Afiyet Olsun Peoples!

Shepherd’s Salad with Sumac – Sumaklı Çoban Salata
Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Half of a large cucumber, about 160 gr/5 ½ oz, cut in quarters and sliced
2-3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
30 ml/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
5ml/1tsp ground sumac
Salt and pepper to taste

• Mix the cucumbers, tomatoes, spring onions and the parsley in a bowl.
• Add the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
• Sprinkle ground sumac over for an extra zing and flavour.

Café Blossom, New York

One of the reasons why we love New York so much is it’s full of places where you can get really interesting vegan food. On one of our trips to New York we spotted Café Blossom. We were in the right area at the right time. That was in 2010 but Café Blossom is still going strong.

At the time I didn’t have my blog so I don’t have photos but I scanned in their menu and tracked down the exact food we had –I still have my notes you see.

Café Blossom’s food is vegan and organic. Basically their ingredients are harvested from local farms. We both had Southern Seitan Sandwich which is spiced seitan, caramelized onions, avocado and it comes with chipotle aioli (photo below).

Southern Seitan Sandwich

And to drink:
Pink Lady (beet, pineapple, ginger, pear)
Forest (apple, celery, parsley, lemon, ginger)

business details



Lamyong Vegetarian Prawn

I absolutely love these… So far I used them in Thai dishes and in some Indian ones too. Next stop will the classic prawn cocktail which we used to do at my restaurant (Family Tree) back in Turkey. A friend of mine also implemented them successfully in a battered form and reported back saying they work really well. I believe they can be BBQed and used in stir-fries too. Endless possibilities Peoples …

Lamyong Vegetarian Prawn

They come in different sizes: 285 gram one is in a box whereas 600 gr and 3 kg ones do come in plastic packaging. I find smaller packs more user friendly.

They are made in Malaysia and I buy mine either from Jessica or Lamyong itself.

Starch (56%) (curdlan –a type of starch)
Vegetarian seasonings
Permitted colouring (E160c)

Zucchini Stew with Green Lentils

This is one healthy stew which ticks all the boxes. The good ones of course. It’s full of protein and nutritious without being heavy.

WhereZucchini Stew with Green Lentils I come from, it is a common practice to use legumes and grains in vegetable dishes. This way, you immediately upgrade your vegetables dishes –usually from a side dish or a starter level to a main – and add good quality protein to your dishes. Besides, you could actually feed a lot of people all in one go and if by any chance you end up with leftovers, these dishes heat well the next day.

Serve Zucchini Stew with Green Lentils with either rice or bulghar pilaf and don’t forget to mop it up with lots of Turkish bread. Afiyet Olsun Peoples!

Zucchini Stew with Green Lentils

6 small size zucchini, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup cooked green lentils (or brown lentils)
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Boiled water
1 tablespoon dried mint (I like mine with lots of mint)
Maldon salt

• In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, chopped garlic, olive oil and salt and set aside.
• Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Sauté the onions until they are thoroughly cooked.
• Add the tomatoes and lemon juice, oil, garlic and salt mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add the zucchini slices. Stir once and cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the lentils.
• Add some boiled water up to a level slightly above the whole mix.
• Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the zucchini slices are just tender.
• Remove from the heat and serve with dried mint sprinkled on top.