Stuffed Onions (Soğan Dolması)
In order to promote circulation sales, once in a week most newspapers in Turkey come with a supplementary booklet loaded with recipes by TV celebrity chefs. Sad but true! Turkey has witnessed worse; in the past, newspapers offered even non-reading related “things” to increase their sales. Among those were vacuum cleaners, radios, TVs, dinner sets, silverware, cameras, bikes, etc. Unfortunately people subscribed for months to certain newspapers not for their content, political views, or their columnists, but for the items those papers were offering. Compared to TVs and plates, recipe booklets seem less harmless since you need to “read” those recipes.
My mom had packed a couple of food magazines and those recipe booklets when they came to visit us last April. One of the booklets is by a TV celebrity chef, Emine Beder whose dishes I usually find too greasy, and recipes unexciting. However, I have to give her credits; her measurements are very peculiar and when followed strictly, recipes turn out as expected–no surprises.
I found her recipes after the move while unpacking. Flipping through the pages, I found this jewel among ordinary recipes. I changed the recipe here and there, but remained loyal to it in principle. The result was magnificent. I think I will give her recipes another chance.
2-3 red onions (try to pick large ones–the recipe called for regular onions, I chose to use red ones)
1/3 lb ground meat (beef or lamb)
1/4 cup rice
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red pepper paste (if you cannot find it, use tomato paste)
1/3 cup crushed dried sumac
1 tsp dried mint flakes
1 tsp oregano leaves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp or more crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup hot water
– Cut the bottom parts of onions 1/4 inch and peel.
-Boil them until soft, but not too soft. Rinse and let cool down.
-Squeeze each one to get every single layer. You will be stuffing those layers. If slippery, use a clean kitchen towel to grip and squeeze.
-Wash rice in plenty water and rinse.
-Soak sumac in hot water for 15 minutes and drain. Save the water.
-Heat butter in a frying pan. Add pastes, spices, and salt. Mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes.
-Take the pan off the fire. Add ground meat, rice, and sumac. Mix well.
-Stuff onions with the mix and place them in a broad pot.
-Pour in sumac water.
-After it starts boiling, simmer covered on low for half an hour.
-Serve hot with crusty bread. We loved it, especially with yogurt.