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Caucasian Flavor: The Cuisine Of Artvin
Tea, hazelnuts, rice, corn, kale, and hamsi (European anchovy) are the foremost elements of Artvin’s tastes. Traces of both the Black Sea and Caucasian regions can be found in these dishes, each of which is more delicious than the other.
Artvin, the easternmost province of Turkey’s Black Sea coast, is a magnificent place where different shades of green and blue meet. TTea, hazelnuts, rice, corn, kale, and hamsi (European anchovy) are the foremost elements of Artvin’s tastes. Traces of both the Black Sea and Caucasian regions can be found in these dishes, each of which is more delicious than the other.In Artvin, the taste of cornbread competes with the taste of tandoori bread. Artvin cuisine is quite unique with its soup varieties as well.
With cabbage soup; a milk-based soup called gendima; nişoş, made from yogurt; çinçar, a very tasty nettle soup; and many other regional soups, Artvin cuisine contains a wealth of variety for soup lovers. The secret behind the unforgettable taste of the regional dishes has to do with the unique way in which the plants are grown, which the livestock also benefit from. Another one of the region’s important contributions is the honey produced by the Caucasian honey bee.
The Caucasian honey bee is known for its ability to extract nectar from the deepest part of a flower with their extraordinarily long tongues. Its honey, produced from the pollen and nectar collected from a variety of endemic flowers near the Kaçkar Mountains, is world-renowned for its sweet aroma. Below are some recipes from Artvin provided by the skillful housewives and cooks of the Black Sea, who we owe many thanks to.
Ingredients: 100 g “dil” cheese, 100 g “çeçil” cheese, 150 g butter, ½ cup corn flour, 2 cups water, salt
PREPARATION: Melt the butter in a deep pan. Add cornflour and fry until pink. Add water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When the water is absorbed and the mixture starts bubbling, add shredded cheese. Melt cheese; add salt to taste, and serve.
RICE WITH HAMSİ
Ingredients:½ kg hamsi (fresh anchovies), 1 cup rice, 4 tbsp oil (preferably corn oil or hazelnut oil), 1 medium onion, 2 tsp blackcurrants, 2 tsp pine nuts, 1 cup water, ½ tsp sugar, allspice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt.
PREPARATION: Leave the rice to soak in hot brine for half an hour; wash and drain. In a deep pan, heat the oil and toast the pine nuts until they start to brown. Add the chopped onions and sautée until the onions turn pink. Add the drained rice and the sugar, and continue to sautée for one more minute. Add the blackcurrants, spices, salt and boiled water; simmer over low heat until all the water is absorbed. Place a layer of cleaned and rinsed hamsi in an oven dish, starting from the center, towards the edges. Place the cooked rice mixture in the dish and cover with the remaining fish. Cook in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius until the fishes are brown.
Ingredients: 2 bunches of kale, ½ kg ground lamb or lamb minced with a carving knife, ½ cup rice or bulgur, ½ cup oil (preferably hazelnut or corn oil), 2 medium onions, 1 clove garlic, salt to taste, 2 tbsp butter, 2-3 pieces of lamb on the bone, 1 cup hot water.
PREPARATION: Cut off the stems of the kale and boil them just enough so that they remain a little hard. Chop the onions and mix well with the ground lamb, oil, rice, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper as desired. Place some of this mixture on the boiled kale leaves and roll. Meanwhile, cover the base of a pot with kale stems and place the bone of lamb on top of this layer. Then place the kale rolls. Add some butter to the top and cook over medium heat. Keep the pot covered until the butter melts completely. Add water after the butter melts, and simmer until the stuffed kale is cooked.