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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May

Human beings made the discovery that clay could be shaped in the upper palaeolithic age, but it was not until around 7000 BC that they began to make pots for storage. They gradually improved their techniques and learned how to fire the finished articles to produce durable vessels. The next important step forward was the invention of the pottr'si wheel at the end of the 4th millennium BC in Mesopotamia, and this spread to Egypt, Syria and Cilicia early in the 3rd millennium BC, and to central and western Anatolia in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. In many parts of Turkey today traditional pottery production still continues, such as at Avanos in Cappadocia. In the village of Dölek in Gümüshane in northeastern Turkey women make güveç or cooking pots known locally as gudi or gudu. In the latter region it is traditional to cook güveç stews for the evening meal during the month of Ramazan, while in the district of Inebolu in Kastamonu these are eaten for the morning meal.

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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May

In the town of Beypazari the Ismet Degirmencioglu bakery, which has been run by the same family for the past 220 years, is famous for its delicious güveç. Pottery making began in the village of Kinik in the province of Bilecik southeast of Istanbul about 120 years ago, when high-quality clay deposits were discovered by the famous potter Sakir Aga, and today is the principal occupation here. The pottery and ceramics produced in Kinik are sold all over Turkey and also exported. Women in the village of Sorkun near Mihaliççik in Eskisehir still make pottery using neolithic age techniques, firing their jars or çömlek over open fires. The same method can be seen in Gökeyüp near Salihli in Manisa. The technique is as follows: straw, hay, sawdust, wood ash, sand and water are added to the clay, which is then kneaded thoroughly until no air bubbles remain. It is shaped by hand or on a wheel, and then partially dried, when the surface is scraped smooth to close the pores, so ensuring that it is impermeable.

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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May
Then it is left to dry thoroughly, covered with slip, glazed and finally fired. The colour of the finished pot depends on many factors, such as the temperature and type of the kiln, and the amount of oxygen admitted during firing. Now let us come to the delicious casserole dishes cooked in the traditional güveç and known by the same name. Slow even cooking in the closed pot brings out the full flavour of the ingredients. Meat güveç dishes in particular have an important place in traditional Turkish cuisine. The meat is cut into chunks and placed in the greased güveç together with the other ingredients, such as vegetables, herbs and spices. The pot is then covered by a pottery lid or by a thick sheet of pastry, although today aluminium foil is a practical alternative. Vegetable dishes without meat cooked with olive oil can also be prepared in the same way. Ideally the güveç should be cooked in traditional tandırs or pit ovens, which are still used in some rural areas, but in towns and cities people either use their own modern ovens or take them to the local bakery.
* Renan Yildirim is a journalist.
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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May

CHICKEN GÜVEÇ WITH VEGETABLES (serves 6)

Ingredients:
1 chicken, 1 medium onion, 200 g green beans, 2 potatoes, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 2 green chilli peppers, 3 tomatoes salt, black pepper

Method: Wash the chicken and divide into portions. Slice the onion. Peel the aubergine, potatoes and courgette and cut into large cubes. Cut the chilli peppers into four or five pieces, the beans in small slices, and the tomatoes in round slices. Grease the güveç and arrange all the vegetables except the tomatoes. Place the portions of chicken on top and add half a cup of water, salt and black pepper. Arrange the tomato slices on top. Cover tightly and bake for 1 hour at 180 degrees Centigrade. Serve hot.

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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May

MUSHROOM AND LAMB GÜVEÇ (serves 4-6)

Ingredients: 1 kg lamb on the bone cut in chunks, 8-10 mushrooms, 2 onions, 5-6 cloves garlic, 3-4 tomatoes, 5-6 green chilli peppers, 1 tablespoon oil salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper

Method: Place the lamb in a greased güveç. Slice the mushrooms and onions. Peel the cloves of garlic. Peel the tomatoes and dice. Cut the chilli peppers into three or four pieces. Arrange the vegetables over the meat, and add half a cup of water, salt, thyme and black pepper. Cover the güveç with its own lid or a sheet of aluminium foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Centigrade for 1-1.5 hours.

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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May

BEAN AND PASTIRMA GÜVEÇ (serves 4-6)

Ingredients: 300 g white kidney beans (soaked overnight), 150 g pastirma (cured pressed beef), 2 tablespoons butter, 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tomatoes, 1 green chilli pepper, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon flaked red pepper salt, dried mint

Method: Drain the beans which have been soaked overnight, and boil in fresh water until tender. Remove the rind from the pastırma and slice. Finely chop the onion, garlic, tomatoes and chilli pepper. Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and chilli pepper. Dilute the tomato paste in a tablespoon of water and add together with the tomatoes. Cook for five minutes. Pour into a güveç, and add the beans, seasoning and half a cup of water. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Centigrade for an hour. Add the slices of pastirma and bake for a further 10 minutes. Serve hot sprinkled with dried mint.

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Delicious traditional flavours Güveç
2003 / May

SHRIMP GÜVEÇ (serves 2)

Ingredients: 500 g shrimps, 1 cup white wine, 100 g grated Kaşar cheese, 2 tomatoes, 2 onions, 3-4 cloves garlic, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons oil salt, black pepper

Method: Finely chop the onion and garlic. Peel the tomatoes and dice. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes and cook until the juice has evaporated. Add the wine, salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Add the shelled shrimps and bay leaves, and cook for a further five minutes. Pour into a güveç, sprinkle the grated Kasar cheese (or any other mature yellow cheese) over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Centigrade until the cheese is golden brown

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