Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays aren't traditionally celebrated in Turkey. That's why the menus and dishes many of us are familiar with at this time of year can't be found. The good news is you can still create fantastic, exotic holiday fare using Turkish recipes.
You'll be happy to know that there are many ancient and classic Turkish dishes that truly compliment Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holiday menus.
Exotic Tastes From Familiar Ingredients
The key is the ingredients. One of the beauties of Turkish cuisine is its variety and use of common, well-known ingredients. These ingredients and spices are used in unique combinations cooked with different methods. This makes for dishes that are exotic, but pleasingly familiar and comforting at the same time.
For your holiday menus, this translates into a fresh, foreign twist on the familiar, a break in the monotony of the same old menu year after year. An added benefit is that Turkish cuisine tends to be much lighter than it's European and North American counterparts, so often you'll end up eating just as much, but recovering from your feast in much less time!
Whet Your Taste Buds
Does fragrant celeriac and carrots sound like a nice vegetable side dish instead of peas? If all this interests your tastes buds this holiday season, keep reading.
Below is an ideal holiday menu that incorporates Turkish recipes next to your classic favorites. Don't worry; they'll fit in just perfectly.
In fact, you can actually make your whole holiday menu using Turkish recipes, right down to the pumpkin dessert!
The Ideal "Turkish" Full Course Holiday Menu
Are you planning a long, drawn-out, full-course holiday meal that includes everything from an appetizer through to dessert and coffee? Read on for courses and recipes with links below. You can pick and choose among them or cook up them all for a wonderful holiday meal with a Turkish twist.
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Before the main course, you can serve individual scoops of pomegranate sorbet or have small, shot-glass size glasses of pomegranate seeds as a part of each place setting for guests to enjoy as a palate cleanser between courses.
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For the main course, try oven-roasted turkey, cooked as you would normally roast it. The difference is the stuffing.
Rather than bread-based stuffing, Turkish cuisine prides itself on rice-based stuffings for their meat and poultry.
This recipe for oven-roasted turkey with rice, pine nut, and currant stuffing has optional roasted chestnuts to help keep things more familiar. It's truly delicious.
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On The Side: Romano Beans In Olive Oil
You will also be happy to know there's a Turkish alternative to the second most important holiday dish–mashed potatoes. In Turkey, the dish is called “potato puree.”
It’s a buttery, milky and slightly chunky version of classic mashed potatoes. It goes perfectly with the turkey, stuffing and gravy you’ll make with the turkey juices.
If you’re tired of the same old steamed peas, carrots and pearl onions, try one of many Turkish vegetable side dishes prepared with olive oil. Celeriac and carrots or Romano beans make a wonderful alternative to old fashioned steamed vegetables.
What about sweet potatoes, you ask? Sweet potatoes are not native in Turkey and they aren’t used in traditional Turkish cooking.
You can find them here and there at specialty grocers in the big cities. You also can substitute boiled pumpkin for the sweet potato.
Just boil it until tender, press out the extra water with a strainer, add butter, salt, and pepper to taste, and there you have it. You can even add some brown sugar and marshmallows and bake it in the oven, just like sweet potatoes.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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No holiday menu would be complete without dessert, like pumpkin pie. Your guests might love pumpkin pie, but they might be too full after the meal to really enjoy it.
Try this much lighter Turkish pumpkin dessert without the crust.
Turkish candied pumpkin dessert packs just as much pumpkin punch as traditional pie without the extra carbs. It’s also very easy to prepare and looks beautiful too.
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Need a second dessert to offer? You can also try Turkish quince dessert, another lovely, tender fruit dessert.
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No holiday meal would be complete without coffee or tea. Conclude your meal with a good, strong cup of Turkish coffee or freshly-brewed Turkish tea.
Garnish each cup or glass with a piece of Turkish delight and a small, decorative glass of flavored liqueur such as creme de menthe or amaretto. Let some Turkish tea and coffee culture enter your home this holiday season. Serve with lokma (fried sweet dough).