While preparing this I became very conscious of the difficulty of conveying in the recipes the right balance of herbs, spices and seasoning without being either arbitrary or vague. It is almost impossible to give precise instructions in the use of herbs and seasoning, as it depends so much on individual taste and the cook’s own ‘feel’ as she goes along, yet to be too indefinite about it can be unnerving to those who do not feel so sure or who have had very little experience. The Turkish cook will take a bit from here and a pinch from there and put it all together without stopping to measure it and to capture this in the recipes is a very hard task!
In the ingredient lists, therefore, I have tried to give a near approximation for the herbs and seasoning, which I hope the experienced cook will not treat rigidly, while it might be of some help to the beginner. I would like to stress that most Turkish dishes call for some herbs and to omit them altogether would render the dishes quite uncharacteristic. In the same way the use of garlic is important and to do without it would destroy the intrinsic flavour, whereas a little more or less will not do excessive injury. In the long run the best guide to seasoning is constant tasting and experiment.
In the use of large vegetables such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines and marrows I have given a quantity and an approximate size, rather than a weight, which I find both more useful and quicker when cooking and is also more in keeping with the Turkish housewife who would also work this way. In MHIQA Note on the Use of the Recipes in this ‘ most of the vegetable dishes an exact amount is not called for and a near quantity will be quite in balance with the rest of the ingredients. For example, I have put ‘two large aubergines’ which is easier to select than a definite weight which two aubergines might not add up to! Onions are put down as small, medium and large and I feel it can be safely left to the individual to gauge the right amount. For the preparation of unfamiliar vegetables, I have given a detailed account in the beginning of the vegetable section.
It should be remembered when serving raw onions, that a mild variety are used in Turkey which are specially grown for eating raw and these can be bought in England under the name of ‘salad’ onions. They are round and white and should not be confused with spring onions or small pickle onions.
Most of the recipes will feed from four to six people.
The oven temperatures are given as slow, moderate and hot, with the Fahrenheit temperature in parentheses. A comparative oven guide will be found in the beginning of the as well as a list of weights and measures.
For some of the more unfamiliar dishes, I have provided diagrammatic sketches which I hope will make it easier to see what one is aiming at.