If you walk the streets of any Turkish town, you are bound to come across a Turkish woman frying up gozlemes, pronounced guz-le-meh.
On our maiden trip to Istanbul — where my brother once lived and taught law at the English-language Koc University for nearly nine years — my daughters and I first encountered gozleme in a cute little restaurant near downtown Sultanahmet next to the tram line.
The eatery was decked out with the usual Turkish fripperies and some fine rugs. Standing on the street, we looked through the picture window and saw an ample-looking woman, wearing long peasant skirts, a short tunic blouse and a head scarf, sitting cross-legged next to a giant tava, rolling out an alu gozleme and frying them in front of us.
We were transfixed. And hungry.
Gozlemes are sort of the Turkish take on kulchas or baida rotis, except they are much larger and usually contain cheese, the yellow Turkish kasar cheese or beyaz panir. They can have several types of stuffing — eggplant, mince, spinach, potato and more.
This recipe of gozleme, with a potato stuffing, is an adaptation of the different gozlemes I have had during various journeys through Turkey.
Turkish Potato Gozleme
For the dough
- 2 cups maida or all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the stuffing
- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- Handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- Handful fresh dill, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- ¾ cup grated cheese
- 4 stalks spring onions, chopped
- 3 tsp sumac powder (please see the note below)
- 2 tsp lal mirchi or chilly powder or chilly flakes
- Extra virgin olive oil to fry the gozlemes
- Boil the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan till just done or nearly done.
Peel and cool.
In a large bowl, grate the potatoes using a large-holed grater or kadukas.
Add the onions, spring onions, dill, parsley, mint, lal mirchi, sumac, salt, cheese and mix well.
- Take a portion of the dough and roll into a 1½-inch ball.
Flatten with your palms and on the clean surface of a ledge or a large wooden belan or board, sprinkled with flour, roll into 6-7- inch diameter circles, neither too thin nor too fat.
Spread 3 tbsp potato stuffing on one half of the circle and fold over and loosely seal shut.
- Pour a tbsp of oil on a heated tava or griddle over medium heat and spread with a brush or a metal spatula and warm it for a minute.
Fry the gozleme for 4-5 minutes on one side till it starts developing pink dots and gets crisp.
Keep pressing it down with a spatula so the gozleme flattens a little bit as it cooks.
Turn it over and cook on the other side till crisp.
With a spatula cut into quarters and take off the tava.
- Repeat the rolling, stuffing and frying for the balance dough and stuffing.
Serve the gozlemes warm as a snack with tea, preferably the Turkish black chai, or for breakfast.
Zelda’s Note: Sumac is a tangy, lemony spice used in Middle Eastern cooking, that can be purchased online.
It’s easiest to fold a gozleme in half, but there are more intricate and elegant ways of rolling and folding them before frying — like adopting the baida roti technique where each ball of dough is rolled into a square and the stuffing is placed in the centre. The gozleme is then folded up like an envelope.
For eggplant-stuffed gozleme, roast two medium eggplants. Replace the alu in the recipe with the mashed pulp of the eggplants.
If you have leftover cooked kheema at home, that’s not over-spiced with Indian masalas, add an egg, mint, dill and grated cheese to it and use this stuffing instead of mashed potatoes.
I have never made gozleme with anything except maida, but a healthier, gluten-free dough made from ragi or oat flour should be possible.
For a Jain version of gozleme, use the eggplant filling and omit using onions.
If you have leftover stuffing, freeze it and keep it for the next time you plan to make gozleme; it will last for at least a month.
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