Back from a trip to Turkey, Jehanne Ali goes on a mission to recreate some of the flavors of the Ottomans.
By Jehanne Ali
I am back from a fantastic trip of a lifetime in Turkey and somehow the holidays which ended only few days back seemed like an eternity ago. The marvels of Constantinople history and the beautiful coastal view of Turkish Reviera from the little town of Belek, Antalya really rejuvenated me and brought a lot of fond memories and nostalgia from my trip there 9 years ago. So many things have changed, yet certain things remained the same. The old Grand Bazaar was still buzzing with passers-by from all walk of life, haggling the precious stones, brass and beautiful antic carpets in between sips of Suleimaniye apple tea. The rose oil, musks and aroma from Spice Bazaar enticed me in to taste and savour, from the dried figs and candied lemons to the exquisite Turkish delight and oh-so syrupy bakhlavas..enough to clog the arteries for lifetime!
On the last day in Istanbul, I bought some baguettes for a quick bite but alas, didn’t have time to eat them as we were travelling. Inspired by the food that we had and armed with the exotic Ottoman spices that I bought from the bazaar, I thought it would only be fitting to use up the baguette into something useful.
Flavourful croutons, drizzled with olive oil and generously sprinkled with Ottoman spices. Yes, there is a mix called Ottoman spices, the aromatic mixed herbs full of saffron, red chilli flakes, thyme and marjoram. Exotic blend that I would love to use again and again as seasoning, roasted chicken next time, maybe? I was so glad I made those croutons, well stocked soup garnishing on rainy days or even a savoury snack on its own. At least I could recreate some nostalgic aroma of Istanbul in my little kitchen, albeit in the form of croutons.
- 2 medium sized baguettes or 1 long baguette(preferably 1 day old)
- 3 cloves garlic-minced finely
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp Ottoman spice mix
- 1 tsp Kosher salt (or coarse sea salt)
- For ottoman spice mix:
- ½ tsp saffron strands
- 1 tbsp sumac ( you can get this at any Arabic/Middle eastern store)
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- ½ tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground mint
- 1 t bsp ground fennel
- 1 tbsp dried marjoram
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp dried ginger
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- Prepare the ottoman spice mix by combining all the spices and grind them to a fine powder.
- Store in airtight container.
- Cut the baguette into 1 inch cubes.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic until fragrant.
- Add the ottoman spice mix and remove from the heat.
- Add the baguette cubes, and coat them well with the spices.
- Spread the baguette cubes onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 180C, turning the tray once or twice or use 3-d hot air for even baking.
- Remove from oven and once cooled, store the croutons in airtight container or glass jar.