Turkish cuisine is famous for its diversity and unique national flavor. One of the most popular dishes on the Turkish table in every family is gözleme. Gözleme is a thin flatbread with a variety of fillings for every taste.
In ancient times, Turkish women had to invent recipes that were quick to prepare. In the conditions of military campaigns, it was necessary to feed a large number of men, while the dinner had to be satisfying and not bother with the same taste. So enterprising housewives invented a recipe for preparing the most popular dish today, not only among local residents, but also among visiting tourists. For the simplest gözleme, only unleavened dough and filling from what was at hand – cheese, herbs, vegetables, minced meat – were required. Portions of dough for gözleme could be prepared for future use, and they could be stored in any weather for up to one week.
To bake gözleme, a metal plate curved outward was used, which was installed with the help of supports over burning coals. Now this device is called saj – a special frying pan for gözleme. Modern sajs are adapted for cooking with gas, there are also electric ones, but in Turkish villages you can still find the old marching technology. Of course, a gözleme cooked on wood will be tastier – the dough will smell like smoke, and the process of baking on an open fire will become a fascinating sight.
It is worth noting that even with the help of modern appliances it is impossible to bake a real gözleme if you do not have the special skill for this that Turkish women have. The ability to bake fine thin gözleme is inherited by them. Almost every Turkish woman can roll the dough into an ideal thinnest round shape on a special board using a long thin rolling pin called oklava. When a real professional is working, the dough is not just rolled out – it is rotated around the rolling pin in the air to stretch it as much as possible. Correctly kneaded gözleme dough is very elastic. After the workpiece is rolled out, put the filling on one half of the circle, but a little, so as not to break the thin dough, and cover with the second half – half of the circle is obtained. Over the entire surface, the damp workpiece must be lightly patted with your palms so that the air can escape, and the edges must be closed up. Then it must be carefully transferred to the saj without damaging it. To do this, craftsmen masterfully reel the gozleme on a rolling pin directly with the filling, transfer it in this form to the saj, and unreel it – all this takes them a couple of seconds. The flour in which the dough is rolled out does not allow it to stick together at this moment.
Classic gözleme is fried without oil. They are soaked in oil either at the end of cooking, or just before serving. As a rule, melted butter is used.
Gözleme fillings can be very diverse, and used to depend on the season. So, in the spring, young greens were actively used – spinach, young tops of beets or radishes, nettles, mint, parsley, dill, cilantro, in summer – vegetables, in winter – meat, cottage cheese and cheese. Later, the Turks began to mix several types of fillings, for example, herbs with cheese or cottage cheese, vegetables with cheese, meat with herbs, meat with herbs and vegetables, meat with cheese and herbs. All filling must be prepared in advance. Only greens, except for spinach, can be put raw, after finely chopping.
The dough does not have to be bland. If you are not in hiking conditions, you will probably have the opportunity to add milk or kefir in addition to water. Housewives often add vegetable oil to the dough.
Usually, the proportions of ingredients are measured by eye, maybe because of this the dish has a name derived from the word göz (Turkish) – eye – Gözleme. It is believed, however, that the name appeared due to the shape of the gözleme – a semicircle really resembles an eye. There is also a version that the name of the famous dish was given because of the saj shape – a baking pan, which with its convex shape resembles an eyeball.
Today, urban residents of Turkey can easily purchase gözleme dough blanks at grocery stores or nearby cafes – it makes homemade gözlemes very easy and fast in cooking, but women in rural areas knead the dough on their own, following ancient traditions.
Homemade Gözleme Recipe With Meat, Cheese and Herbs
- For the dough, mix 800 g of sifted flour, a glass of kefir, half a glass of water, a quarter of a glass of vegetable oil and one teaspoon of salt. If you do not have kefir, replace it with milk or fermented baked milk.
- Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes so that it becomes elastic and does not stick to your hands. If it sticks, add more flour.
- Wrap the dough in foil and let it rest for at least half an hour in the refrigerator.
- For the filling, chop 300 g of meat – it is better to chop with a knife, it will be juicier, fry in a pan over medium heat.
- Grate 300 g of any cheese.
- Finely chop the bunch of greens – take the one you like.
- Combine cooked meat, grated cheese and chopped greens in a filling bowl and season with salt to taste. Keep in mind that the cheese is likely salty, don’t overdo it with salt.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide into equal portions and form into balls.
- Roll out the dough ball into a large, thin, round layer about 2mm thick.
- Put the filling in a thin layer on one half, cover with the other half on top.
- Slap your pams on a gözleme to release the air, seal the edges.
- Gently transfer the gözleme to a preheated large pan, lightly oiled.
- While one side of the flatbread is fried, lightly moisten the other side with water to prevent it from drying out. After about 4 minutes, flip over and bake for 4 more minutes.
- Grease the finished gözleme with butter, cut into 4 pieces and serve.
- Gözleme is eaten immediately after cooking, but they are also very tasty when cold.