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.