France meets Maghreb – or is it Turkey?


I owe this recipe to an excellent Turkish restaurant that I used to visit when I was living in Berlin many years ago. The place, called “Merhaba” (meaning something like “Hi, there!”), makes the Mediterranean cuisine shine. What I always found very intriguing was how the chefs there were elegantly adding acidity to their dishes by using (cold) yoghurt.

Acidity, in fact, is one key element of tasteful cooking. Without any, your dishes will have a tendency to come across bland; too much of it, though, will kill the character of the main ingredients, so it’s a tricky balance.

Anyway, here’s one way worth trying: I prepared a slow-cooked eggplant-tomato-stew with lots of onions, garlic and parsley. I wanted to have some meat, too, so I minced enough veal (shoulder) to turn it into well spiced balls which I steamed. Finally, I built a “bed” of seasoned yoghurt on the plates, put the eggplant stew on top and the meat balls, obviously. Think of adding cardamom, fennel, cumin; you could even think of seasoning the stew (or the meat balls) with cinnamon. It all works. Enjoy.

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