Sunday, April 22, 2012


Turkish flavours cooking class with Selin Rozanes in Istanbul.

Not MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN, but a kitchen in Istanbul, Turkey, where albondigas are on the menu. Albóndigas is the Spanish word for meatballs.Yes, some people (Sephardic Jews, who still speak Ladino, a version of Spanish) call them albóndigas. Otherwise, they are known in Turkey as keftes.

I attended a cooking class in the home of Selin Rozanes in the Istanbul neighborhood of Nisantasi. Selin’s family is Sephardic (the surname Rozanes denotes someone from Roses, the Catalan town where famous chef Ferran Adria had Restaurant El Bulli). Selin teaches classic Turkish cooking, but today she added the albóndigas/keftes and almodrote de kalavasazucchini flan, also known in Spain as cuajado—because I was especially interested in the Spanish connection to Turkish food.

Huge artichokes with dill and onions.
Zucchini flan.

For more about Selin’s classes and market tours in Istanbul, see her web site TURKISH FLAVOURS.

Tastebuds whetted, now I’m going to order a book about Turkish food written by my friend Sheilah Kaufman, THE TURKISH COOKBOOK, Regional Recipes and Stories.

The following recipes are from Selin Rozanes at Turkish Flavours. (For the traditional Spanish way with albóndigas, see my post on THE MEATBALL BLOG.)

Leek and meat patties--called keftes or albóndigas.

Albóndigas de Prasa
 Leek Patties


3 pounds leeks
½ pound ground meat (preferably lamb)
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Flour for dipping
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for frying

Peel the leeks, wash them well, chop and boil them until they are very soft. After they are cooked, drain and press them between your palms as hard as you can to get all the water out. This is very important in order to make the meatballs firm.

Put the leeks into the food processor and blend to a soft paste. Mix together the leek paste, minced meat,  egg yolks, salt and pepper. Shape into balls about the size of walnuts and flatten them slightly to form 2-inch patties. Dip them in flour. Dip each into beaten egg and lower gently into sizzling oil for shallow frying. Lower the heat, so as not to brown them too quickly, and turn over once. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Zucchini flan or almodrote de kalabaza.
Zucchini Flan

In the cooking class, we peeled the zucchini before grating it for this flan, then cooked the strips of peel in olive oil with lemon and dill to make a cold dish. In my own kitchen, I prefer to grate unpeeled zucchini.

3 to 4 zucchini
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 eggs
3 ounces white (feta) cheese, mashed
5 ounces grated kasher cheese or gruyere (or Manchego)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
A bunch of dill, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Grate the zucchini. Salt it lightly and let it stand 30 minutes in a colander. Press  the zucchini with your hand to squeeze out as much of the juices as you can.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, eggs, feta cheese and grated cheese. Add the oil, grated zucchini, chopped dill, salt (may not be necessary with salty feta) and pepper. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into an oiled baking dish (rectangular or oval), sprinkle the top with more grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until lightly colored. Serve hot or room temperature.


  1. Looks wonderful! Wish I were there!

  2. What an incredible opportunity to explore another Mediterranean cuisine! I have always imagined Istambul as a feast for all of the senses. I like how you make the connection between Turkish and Spanish preparations. I have always loved Turkish cooking (minus a sketchy kebab or two) and look forward to giving these recipes a try.

    1. Ansley: Yes, it was fun to explore the connections between Spanish cooking and Turkish-- but also to savor new tastes. I loved fresh dill, a herb not used in Spanish cooking.