It is my honour to share the recipes of the much-loved Çerkes tavuğu (Turkish Chicken) and Potato Salad as made by my mother, Begum Bilkees Latif. Learnt from her own mother, Alys, who in turn, was given the recipe by Princess Niloufer, these family favourites are known only to a select few.
Grandmere Alys’ Turkish Chicken
chicken cubes 1-2
walnuts 300 gms
bread slices 6
fresh cream 1 tbsp
salt and pepper as required
chilli powder for garnishing
whole walnuts 6
olive oil for garnishing
Boil chicken in four cups of water, with salt and two onions. When the chicken is tender, add 1-2 chicken cubes (to taste) into the stock.
Separate from bones and shred the cooked chicken into roughly two inch pieces (about the thickness and shape of a finger).
Grind the walnuts in a mixer with a little soup. Do not grind into smooth paste – keep mixture rough and grainy.
Take the bread slices one at a time and soak them well in the soup, then soften and grind each slice, one by one, in a mixer. Add a bit of walnut mixture with each slice while grinding. Final mixture should be the consistency of a grainy, thick cream.
Add half an onion to the mixture and grind.
Finally, mix in the shredded chicken carefully. Add salt, pepper, and a little chilli powder to taste.
Stir in one tablespoon of cream (optional).
To serve, decorate with walnuts and a little chilli powder mixed with one teaspoon of oil. Serve cold or at room temperature, preferably with Aly’s Potato Salad.
Grandmere Alys’ Potato Salad
egg yolk 1
olive oil for dressing
vinegar as required
salt and pepper to taste
mustard ½ tsp
sugar a pinch
mayonnaise 1 tbsp
chopped spring onion for garnishing
Boil potatoes in skins until ready, but not overdone; potatoes must not break up when sliced.
Remove skins and slice immediately (before potatoes cool) into thick,
flat slices of approximately one cm thickness.
Soak hot sliced potatoes in olive oil so flavour is absorbed by the potatoes.
For the dressing, mix olive oil, little by little, into egg yolk, pouring a small amount of oil each time and mixing thoroughly into the yolk.
Add a little vinegar into the mixture, half a teaspoon of mustard, a full tablespoon of mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Mix well.
Slowly fold potatoes into dressing, taking care that the potato slices do not break.
Let the salad sit for a while before serving so the flavour of dressing soaks into the potatoes.
Decorate with finely chopped spring onions and freshly ground pepper.