I give you the most comforting Turkish recipe of all time; kızartma! Picture a fry up with layers and layer of fried zucchinis, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, and tender köftes (Turkish meatballs). Everything is coated in a finger-licking garlicky yogurt sauce and tomato sauce. It’s so juicy, so flavorful, you’ll only regret not having made more. This is not a meal you would find in restaurants, it’s Turkish home cooking at its best!
Kızartma doesn’t look very fancy but you’ll be thinking about how delicious it was for days! And this is the type of meal I like best, very comforting and very tasty. This recipe comes to me from my husband’s grandmother, whose kızartma skills are renowned in the family. He tells me I do her justice every time I make kızartma, so you can trust this recipe 😉 .
A BIG FRY UP
Kızartma means frying in Turkish which is why I call this recipe a fry up. You’re basically frying everything in stages, first the zucchinis, then the potatoes,…, until you’re left with golden brown deliciously tender veggies and köfte, coated in the most amazing sauces! It’s not the healthiest recipe but man is it delectable. It makes my mouth water and my stomach growl just thinking about it. After all, what hasn’t been improved by frying? There’s nothing wrong with an occasional fry up from time to time and you deserve a good old batch of kızartma!
Since this recipe involves deep-frying in hot oil I would advise caution, especially while cooking the green peppers (the oil will splatter more). It’s not hard to make kızartma but it does take a bit of time as you need to fry everything in batches. It helps if you have 2 frying pans available, to get more things done. This way you can fry everything in stages, first all the zucchinis, then all the potatoes, etc…
Making kızartma is time-consuming and repetitive but do wait until all the veggies are golden brown, they will be tastier and worth the wait. Don’t forget to turn them from time to time with a slotted spoon to better gauge their color and to help them cook evenly. Don’t worry about the layering in the dish. It’s all going to get mixed up in the sauces anyway and you’ll hardly see the different layers. My kızartma recipe works as a guide, you could use any of your favorite vegetables in this fry up. I think it’s great with summer veggies but you do you. As long as you cover everything in the garlicky yogurt and tomato sauce, I’m pretty sure it’s going to taste great!
I know that summer veggies mean spending 1 hour frying stuff in the summer heat, not a very appealing prospect. That’s why I either make kızartma early in the morning or late at night when it’s cooler. The first time I made kızartma with my mother-in-law, it was in the middle of an afternoon in July. It was 40°C (104°F) and we had to bring two fans in the cramped kitchen to try to cool down. Memories, memories. I swear this Turkish fry up is worth the effort though.
COLD IS BEST
Theoretically, you could eat your kızartma warm, as soon as it’s layered up in the dish. BUT the taste really improves after cooling down in the fridge for a couple of hours. Served cold, you can taste all the nuances of the kızartma. So I highly recommend keeping it in the fridge for as long as possible. I know you would have been cooking for a couple of hours and the last thing you would want to do is to wait even longer to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I feel you, I can also hardly wait. Just steal a couple of köfte and fries, no one will notice, your craving will be satisfied and it’ll be easier to wait. If you have leftovers you’ll have the time of your life because kızartma tastes even better the day after.
HOW TO SUBSTITUTE TURKISH INGREDIENTS
➝ How to substitute Turkish yogurt? I encourage you to try the real thing but seriously I get it if you want a substitute. Not everyone has a Turkish grocer nearby, and even if you do, in the current situation going outside just to buy a specific type of yogurt is a bit ludicrous. So you can use strained full-fat Greek yogurt from wherever you usually shop, as it is more widely available than Turkish yogurt. BUT Turkish yogurt is thicker than Greek-style yogurt so pick the thickest Greek yogurt you can find. The tangiest the better also.
➝ How to substitute Turkish tatlı* biber salçası? I would encourage you to get the real thing if you have a Turkish grocer nearby. A jar lasts forever if you pour a bit of olive oil on top of the paste and mix it after you opened the jar. However, if you can’t find it I wouldn’t advise you to use harissa or gochujang as a substitute, they would be way too spicy and have the wrong flavor profile. For this recipe, you can substitute the red pepper paste with tomato paste and ½ tsp of red chili flakes. After all, the uses of domates salçası (tomato paste) and biber salçası (red pepper paste) are quite interchangeable in Turkish recipes, each family having its preferences.
Are you looking for some other recipes to use up salça? Here are some of my favorites:
- Turkish red lentil soup (Mercimek çorbası)
- Braised leeks (Pırasa yemeği)
- Turkish breakfast dips and spreads
You’ll never find a more comforting Turkish home-cooked meal than kızartma. Layers and layers of fried zucchinis, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, and tender köftes are coated in finger-licking garlicky yogurt and tomato sauces. This fry up is super juicy and super flavorful, you’ll only regret not having made more.
For the köfte:
- 500g ground beef (1 pound)
- 1 big onion
- 1 egg
- 6 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp cumin
For the kızartma:
- 3 eggplants
- 5 potatoes
- 3 zucchinis
- 4 long green peppers
- 5 tomatoes, grated
- 1 tbsp Turkish red pepper paste (tatlı* biber salçası), or use tomato paste
- 700g Turkish yogurt (3 ¼ cup), or use Greek yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly cut
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- vegetable oil, for frying
For the köftes:
- Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Roughly grate in the onion. Add the egg, breadcrumbs and cumin. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Mix together well and knead the mixture for 5 min, like you would for a bread dough.
- With wet hands, take a small handful of the meat mixture and pat it into a flat elongated meatball, about 1cm thick (½ inch). Repeat until you run out of the köfte mixture. You should have around 18 meatballs.
- Place the köftes on a plate and refrigerate until needed.
For the kızartma:
- Trim the stems off the eggplants and peel them. Cut them into 3cm (1 inch) cubes. Place into a large bowl of salted water and let the cubes soak while you get on with the rest. This helps to draw out bitter juices from the eggplants.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into long thin strips. Place them into another bowl of salted water. Allow the strips to soak for 15min. This helps to remove excess starch and to prevent the fries from sticking together.
- Trim the stems off the zucchinis and peel them. Cut them into 1cm (½ inch) coins.
- Cover the surfaces of 2 frying pans with 1cm (½ inch) of oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil reaches 160°C (320°F), or until it’s hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 1min, split the zucchini coins evenly between the 2 pans. Fry, turning them from time to time with a slotted spoon, until golden brown on both sides (between 10 to 15 min).
- Place the zucchini coins on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. It’s fine if they get soggy, that’s how they should be for this recipe.
- Drain the fries and pat them dry (if they are wet the oil will spatter dangerously). Make sure the oil temperature is still correct and then split the fries evenly between the 2 pans. Fry, turning them from time to time with a slotted spoon, until golden brown on all sides (between 15 to 20 min).
- Place the fries on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. No worries, if they get soggy.
- Drain the eggplant cubes, rinse them under cold running water and pat them dry. Check the temperature and split the cubes evenly between the 2 pans. Fry, turning them from time to time with a slotted spoon, until golden brown on all sides (between 10 to 15 min).
- Place the eggplant cubes on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- Check the temperature and then split the köftes evenly between the 2 pans. Cook for 2 to 3 min on each side or until brown.
- Place the köftes on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- Make several deep incisions in your peppers with a sharp knife. Check the oil temperature and cook them in one of the pans for 4 min, turning them halfway. Be careful, the oil will spatter. Place the peppers on paper towels.
- Get rid of most of the oil left in the other pan until there is just enough to coat the pan. Stir in the red pepper paste (or tomato paste) and cook while mixing with a wooden spatula for 2 min. Add the grated tomatoes with 1 tsp of salt and mix until combined. Let the sauce simmer over medium heat for 12 min, or until reduced by half.
- Place the garlic cloves and 1 tsp of salt in a mortar and crush into a paste. Add to the Turkish yogurt and mix until combined. Taste and season accordingly.
- To assemble the kızartma: layer all the fried vegetables and köftes into a large dish, pour the garlic yogurt and tomato sauce on top of everything and mix a little to better distribute the sauces.
- Refrigerate for 2h at least (or overnight, it’s even better the day after) or you could eat your kızartma warm, I won’t judge you.
You can keep the kızartma for up to 3 days in the fridge.
*If you buy Turkish red pepper paste, check the label thoroughly. Acı means hot and tatli means sweet. For this recipe, you’ll need the ‘sweet/tatlı’ one. I find it easier to use the tatlı pepper paste because it’s easier to add spices to make it hot, but if the acı is too spicy for you then you won’t be able to get rid of the hot taste.
- Serving Size: 1 plate
- Calories: 1383
- Fat: 15.2
Keywords: fry-up, turkish recipes, summer vegetables, frying