As soon as I saw this familiar pile of red and green peppers at the pazar, I asked if they were hot peppers in Turkish.
Somehow, I had stumbled upon a gigantic pile of REAL jalapeños at the Saturday pazar in Beşiktaş in Istanbul. This is the first time, in my two years of living here, I have found jalapeños at the pazar!
|About 6 tl per kilo!|
Immediately, I asked the pazar stall next door, overflowing with fresh herbs and lettuces, if he had taze kışnış (fresh cilantro). My husband secured the cilantro while I picked up my jalapeños.
Soon, we would be making my fresh salsa recipe!
Moments like these rarely happen here. Usually, I have to go to several markets/stores to find all my ingredients. It's not easy finding Mexican, Indian or Asian ingredients in Istanbul. However, I have started seeing more and more foreign ingredients appear at the large grocery stores.
|Hot sauces galore at the REAL Merkezi in Fulya, Istanbul.|
Here are some substitutes I've made for Mexican ingredients while living in Turkey:
· cilantro (kışnış) - Sometimes you are lucky to find it at a pazar. Check your large grocery stores such as MacroCenter, REAL or Carrefour.
· acı biber (hot pepper) = jalapenos
· suzme yoğurt = sour cream
· Turkish lavaş = flour tortillas
· pul biber = ground hot pepper flakes
· kaşar peynir = cheddar cheese
And the best substitute yet is using nacho cheese-flavored Doritos for tortilla chips! Generally, MacroCenter carries bags of tortilla chips (for 12 tl), but it would've have taken me nearly an hour to go there and back again.
As an expat, you learn to adapt. You learn to improvise. And you learn you can still make delicious tasting food with different ingredients.
So I prepared my Turkish ingredients for a complete Mexican meal at our apartment in Istanbul. Hubby played the role of bartender, making us homemade nar-garitas, and as my dishwasher.
As you can see, we had lovely Turk-Mex meal of chicken soft tacos and all the fixings, salsa and spicy corn.
Grilled Chicken Marinade Ingredients:
Marinades are generally an oil mixed with some spices or a mixture of oil, an acid and some spices. I went with the latter option this time.
1 1/2 lb. (750 g.) boneless chicken thighs or breasts
1/3 c. sunflower or vegetable oil
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
4-6 ea. garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped (or substitute fresh cilantro)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. pul biber (I used a bit of ground chili ancho pepper I still have from the US)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Combine the marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Cover the chicken with the marinade and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Then, use an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to cook the chicken. I used my indoor grill pan, turned the chicken once, and it took about 15 minutes. Slice the chicken into small strips.
Serve the chicken strips on a platter with warmed tortillas and your favorite taco fixings.
1 T. sunflower oil
1 ea. medium onion, diced small
1 ea. garlic clove, diced small
1 ea. jalapeño, diced small
1 ea. red pepper, diced small
1 ea. green pepper, diced small
1 pkg. (500 g.) frozen corn
1/2 c. water
1 T. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
As needed salt, pul biber, black pepper
1 T. butter
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, red and green pepper. Saute until softened, about 6-8 minutes.
Add the corn and water. Cook for 10 minutes.
Then add the spices and butter.