Mercimek Çorbasi

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Sorry, sorry, I know I promised a total crochet post on the finished Dotty Blanket, but it seems I needed to get this out of my system first. But it’s coming, and soon. I may actually have a bit more time to write on my hands for a little while, which feels odd because I’ve been so busy over the last 9 months. But I’m (almost) done with the crafts books now, only some more proofing required, yay! The English version of the gorgeous embroidery book is available already, go check it out, it is wonderful, easy to understand and unexpectedly cool :-)!

But back to the subject matter. Living in this city, you can’t really help picking up some Turkish; migrant families have enriched Berlin’s cultural and culinary landscape for decades, and we enjoy the fresh produce in Turkish markets, the energetic salvos of people chatting in their native tongue in the streets, the huge, happy families picnicking at the park, not to mention the many excellent street food vendors that are so hard to pass by without grabbing a quick döner kebab, lahmaçun or fresh, minty bulgur salad, dinner at home be damned.

I first had mercimek çorbasi, the iconic lentil soup (for that’s what it is you’re seeing in that picture) shortly after moving here in 2000. There used to be a very good Turkish restaurant right on Hackescher Markt that supplied all sorts of comfort food to the media and advertising crowd (sorely needed because of our psychopath of a CCO… that dude was the only person who ever made me have stress dreams about work, ’nuff said).

The soup is made of red lentils and veggies, boiled down and pureed. It’s a staple, and as my Istanbul-savvy friend M. tells me, it is also an effective remedy for when you’ve had too much raki in one of the many bars there, if eaten late at night. We usually have it for dinner on miserable, cold days, and my brood insist on a pile of buttered garlic toast on the side for dipping. Usually, you add a dash of cream, but I’ve found that it’s actually better with coconut milk, so you’re getting the vegan version in this write-up today. Here goes:

Mercimek Çorbasi

250 g red lentils

2 shallots, chopped

1 piece of leek (white portion if possible), chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 parsley root, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

Handful of parsley stems

2-3 cm piece of ginger root, chopped

3 TBSP tomato paste

Salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, pinch of sugar

1 can coconut milk

Vegetable broth to taste

Cooking oil

Lemon wedges to serve

Peel and chop the veggies as you see fit and heat a bit of cooking oil in a large saucepan. Put the veggies in and gently stew for a bit, until shallots look translucent but aren’t brown. Add hot water and lentils. No salt though! As you know, we always add salt only _after_ the lentils are tender, for otherwise we might wait forever for that to happen. Same goes for the broth.

Let stew at medium heat, and only after you’ve bitten into a lentil to see whether they’re done, add your spices, broth and tomato paste. Discard the parsley stems. You could leave them in and puree with the rest, but you’ll get a prettier color with no green ingredients in there. Puree the mixture, add more water if necessary, as well as coconut milk, and season to taste. I like the soup to be thick, but not too solid, others prefer a puree-like consistency – ultimately, it’s up to you how much liquid you add. It should be a nourishing bowl of yellowish-orange, slurpy happiness. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the soup before eating, dip in a piece of bread, or your spoon, and enjoy!

As a sidebar only, here’s a couple of things I made after I was done with my daughter’s blanket:IMG_5563.JPGA slouchy knit hipster hat for my birthday girl A. in California, modeled by yours truly, threads not darned yet when the picture was taken. A. had very specific ideas for – well, just about everything concerning that hat! Yarn (acrylic, no wool, ‚cos it’s scratchy), shape (slouchy), color (periwinkle), pattern (stockinette with a rib cuff) … I so hope she’ll be happy with it. I enjoyed wearing it, and it sure wasn’t scratchy but soft and cozy.

Also, check out what I’ve been experimenting with for a couple days now – these are crochet frisbees. You wouldn’t believe they actually fly that well, but they do! I can personally attest to their functionality – we played with the first prototypes over the weekend, and they’re great! 🙂 They sell them (more professionally looking models than mine, but I’m just starting out!) at the coolest toy store I know, Flying Colors on Eisenacher, and I happen to know the lady who makes them, who was good enough to send me some pics. Of course, I’m always on the lookout for new crafts things to make for the school fairs, and this is one very cool idea right there!

So I tinkered with the crocheting in the round and the increases a bit, and in the end I even wrote down how it’s done. In case you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s what I did:

Cool Crochet Frisbees

Using a #5 crochet hook and appropriate yarn, crochet 7 SC into a magic ring and pull tight.

1st round: 2 SC into each stitch, always stitching into the back loop only so the fabric stays nice and flat.

2nd round: SC into every stitch in the round.

Use a marker – even I got confused without it and I’m usually not a great friend of markers at all as I find them cumbersome. Also, start each round with a chain stitch – it helps you find your start of round should you for some reason misplace the marker. It happens!

3rd round: Repeat *1 SC, 2SC into next stitch* all around.

4th round: SC into every stitch in the round.

Repeat 3rd and 4th rounds until you’re happy with the size. It could be that you’ll have to do *2 SC, 2 SC into next stitch* the last couple rounds so the edge doesn’t curl or make waves (you really need it to be solid, even and flat for this one), or, as it happened when I was doing the spiral pattern, do no increases at all in the last few rounds. I’m assuming it depends on how tight your crochet is, and on the type of yarn you use. You’ll get there!

Decrease round: SC into every second stitch all around.

Do two more rounds of SC into every stitch, bind off and darn your threads in carefully. These babies need to be able to withstand both the laws of physics and grabby little people’s hands.

I love that you can actually use these frisbees indoors also, without being too worried about the Ming vase (not that I have any), or giving someone a black eye with it.

Leaving this post today with a few uplifting spring pics – I say we earned this spring, don’t you think???

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