For centuries, people came up with different methods with the desire to use the foods they obtain for longer periods. The oldest and natural one of these methods is drying. Although people also adopted cooking and salting, drying is the most important storing method. Hatay cuisine is rich in dried fruits and vegetables.
Jams and brined storing methods can also be seen. In Hatay cuisine, many fruits and vegetables such as wheat, fig, mulberry, helichrysum, jujube, apple, black eyed pea, eggplant, and tomato are stored to be used in desserts and jams. Fresh yogurt is dried by boiling with salt in cauldrons with wood fire, and stored to be used in winter dishes and breakfasts.
There is no dried meat in Hatay cuisine. Instead, there is fried meat. It is one of the storage methods. Meats diced in Sacrifice Feast are fired in lots of tail fat, and stored after filled in pots and large earthenware jugs.
And fresh herbs such as Thyme and Basil are dried and used as spices. The local blue cheese is made by mixing the fresh cottage cheese with spices.
Tandoori comes from the word tennur. Dictionary description of tennur is an oven, a stove. In Turkish, Tennur is used as tandoori. In Ottoman Turkish, tennur means stove, and this culture originated from Egypt.
Tandoori making is hard and tedious, requiring not art but knowledgeand skill. Firstly, special clayed soil is provided from special locations, carefully sifted, and turned into mud by adding straw, goat hair or cotton. It is kept for one day and then remoulded.
The mud is cylinder-shaped thick enough to stroll a 7-8cm thick diameter, and then braided. But the delicate point here is that the hole tandoori is not braided at once. It is left for drying from time to time. It is braided slowly and by leaving for drying in order to avoid skews and dents. It is harder to make or braid tandoori in winters. Lastly, opening of the tandoori is made, and left for getting dry.
Tandoori mud must be well moulded. Otherwise it will break down quickly, and will not provide the desired efficiency. Firstly, at least a 1 meter deep tandoori pit is dug at the place where tandoori will be set. Since it will be covered with mud, it is prepared extremely clean, and event with a coherent soil like clay; and it can event be kept that way for a few days. Dried mud is is shaped into cylinders, and coated onto the pit by attaching top down. A hole for ventilation is definitely made during the process.
White setting up the tandoori, firstly the bury location is picked.
Here, it is buried in ground level. Depth of tandooris dug on the ground is 130-150cm. And their diameter is approximately 50-65cm. Tondoor bread is name after where it is made. The most important characteristics of the bread is that it can be stored for a long time without going bad. There is a 20x20cm little vent at the bottom of tandoori.
This lets air in and keeps the fire burning. Tandoori flue must be set from the deepest point of tandoori with 90 degrees. If the large jar will be buried under ground, measurements against water leakages must be taken.
This leakage can be both harmful to human health and it will use an important portion of the heat in the tandoori for evaporation, which will cool down the tandoori. The ash pit must be cast iron. For ventilation and flue, fire bricks must be used. Base of the tandoori is filled with glass and salt, so that it won’t cool down quickly after the fire goes out.
Tandoori Bread is the regional bread of Hatay. Tandoori bread dough is generally prepared with yeast, and the large and oval-shaped sourdough is attached to the tandoori wall with a cushion called kera. When tandoori is fired up for the first time, buns and pita with fillings are baked.
Someone who knows how to use a tandoori is necessary for baking bread in tandoori. As baking the bread, being able to bear the fire, and attach the bread to tandoori requires skill. This duty is generally assumed by mothers, elders of the family. If the dough is not well-attached to tandoori, or not well-leavened will cause the bread fall into the fire without sticking onto the wall of the tandoori. In such cases, the bread won’t have the desired shape, and will be misshaped and scorched.
Tablecloth, kneading board, olive oil, some water and the cushion called kera, which make the bread stick on the wall of the tandoori, are kept by the tandoori. Women gather woods and cow dungs, and line up by tandooris early in the morning to bake bread. Baked breads left to cool down, and then covered with tablecloth and stored this way.
Women make enough bread for their weekly or monthly needs. Breads with seasonings and peppers are also baked in tandooris. During Ramadan, buns with or without fillings are baked in tandooris
“Sürk”, meaning cottage cheese in Arabic, is a taste specific to Hatay, and has a peculiar making process. Ingredients of the blue cottage cheese are; fresh cottage cheese, olive oil, black pepper, basil leaves, flaked pepper, clove, thyme, pimento, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, garlic and hot pepper paste.
There are regional cottage cheese types such as Hatay Tumulus cottage cheese and Antakya Thyme Carra Cottage Cheese (ÜNSAL, 2000). Cottage cheese is stored after being a little salted so that it endures for a long period of time. Cottage cheese is more made at homes with traditional methods, and thus there isn’t a standard in cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese making method is this; milk obtained through normal ways are left to souring a day before making the cottage cheese.
Soured milk is left for settling on the oven at a moderate temperature (40-45°C). A lemon is squeezed or lemon salt is added in order to accelerate the process. The water inside slowly evaporates, and sediments subside. Sediments formed are taken into filter clothes and let the water be filtered by hanging on a high position.
After being well-filtered, cottage cheese is taken out of the clothes, salted and generally consumed fresh. Sometimes, it is salted and stuffed into air-tight jars or animal skins to be consumed later on, and consumed after being kept in a cool place for 3-4 months (KAMBER, 2005).
It is consumed in breakfasts, in salads or solely minced in extra-virgin olive oil. The mixture prepared is shaped by hand, laid on a tray with gaps between them, and dried for 3-4 days in a shadowy place with a cheesecloth on it.
Storks prepared are consumed fresh or after molded for 20-25 days in a shadowy place at the ambient temperature (BERKAY-KARACA and GÜVEN, 2009). Suleiman the Magnificent fed his army with the antiseptic and antibiotic featured blue cottage cheese in 14th century so that soldiers have resistance and a strong immune system.
Carra Cheese is more often made of goat’s milk, and when there is inadequate or no goat’s milk available, cow’s milk is also used. It is a cheese type that is made of 1 kg cottage cheese, 1 kg salt-free fresh cheese, and black sesame. Fresh cheese is cut into pieces just a bit larger than a matchbox, and salted a lot.
It is kept for a day so that it releases its water. Cottage and cheese are separately mixed with the desired amount of black sesame. Firstly some salt, and than a handful of prepared cottage cheese is added into the pottery jugs called “Carra”, and the cottage cheese is pressed down with a fist. More cottage cheese is added after a layer of prepared cheese added on top of the pressed cottage.
This must be repeated until the jug is air-tight full. Fully loaded jugs are turned upside down in a suitable place, and kept there for 3-4 days so that excess water is leaked. Then, a handful of salt and thyme must be added on top of the jug, and the jug must be closed with a cloth.
Some salt, wood ash, some olive oil and water must be mixed in a pot, and the opening of the jug must be fully covered with this mixture. After this mixture dries up, just must be buried in a cool place upside down, or kept in a fridge for 3 months, so that it becomes mellow (BERKAY-KARACA and GÜVEN, 2009).
Tomato Paste Made in Villages:
Tomatoes becoming ripe and red under the son of Reyhanlı are harvested every year in August. They are filled in onion sacks after being washed and cut into four pieces. A horizontal platform is set up. Women wearing plastic boots trample down the tomatoes just like grapes.
The extracted tomato juice is filled into copper cauldrons and boiled until having a dense consistency. When tomato juice is consistent, salt is added, and laid under the sun for dehydration. Tomato paste is ready when it turns dark red and has a pasty consistency.
Pepper Paste Made in Villages:
Peppers becoming red and harvested in August are washed, their stalks are removed, peppers are cut into two pieces and their veins and seeds inside are separated. They are laid out under the sun for drying. Harvested peppers are washed and cleaned, and sun-dried for 2 days.
The whether in this period, between the end of August and start of September, is called “pepper hot days” in Hatay. In this period, peppers become crispy and dehydrated due to the temperature difference between days and nights, and gets really dried. Dried peppers are ground in grinders first with large and then narrow openings, salted, and then laid under the sun in trays again.
Being fully dehydrated, peppers now becomes pepper paste.
A local pepper type is used in pepper paste making in Hatay. This pepper, called “pinçevlik”, is a paste pepper that is fleshy, cylinder-shaped, 22-27cm long, and has very few veins. Its yield in paste making is very high. It has few seeds.
İskenderun Gulf is especially rich in jumbo shrimps. This shrimp type is big and very fleshy. When the water gets cold in İskenderun Gulf, shrimps migrate to warm waters in colonies. And when the water of the Gulf starts to get warmer, their journey back to the gulf begins. Getting bigger as they travel, their feet start to fall starting from the back.
A significant part of the shrimps arriving İskenderun Gulf are left with two feet, and these are called “Jumbo”. The most delicious Jumbo Shrimps of the world are found no where but in İskenderun Gulf. İskenderun Gulf “Jumbo Shrimps” fall under the luxurious food class in the five-star hotels both in İstanbul and in Europe, and are sold for high prices.
İskenderun shrimp classified as a wonder food due to being a vitamin, mineral, B12 and protein source, and as a anticancer food due to the selenium in contains.
Large Jumbo shrimps, living in 10 to 20 meters depth in the Gulf, are exported under the brand of “İskenderun Jumbo Shrimp”. Although large shrimps are caught in the costs of many countries in the world, it is known that they are not as delicious as the “İskenderun Shrimp”. Known as the “large shrimp”, this shrimp settled in İskenderun Gulf coming from the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea after the Suez Canal was opened.
They are frozen and exported from İskenderun, or iced and put on the domestic market. Being taken from İskenderun gulf to Karabiga gulf in Marmara for transplantation in 1960’s, even though this shrimp type showed a significant reproduction in the region for a couple of years, it did not continue and jumbo shrimp remained to be a brand of the İskenderun Gulf.
According to the Ancient Greek Mythology, Apollo, the God of Light, and son of Zeus, saw a young woman. Name of the beautiful woman was Daphne, and Apollo fell in love with her at first sight. Daphne enjoyed wandering around in the depths of the forest, chasing and hunting wild animals under the moon’s light was her biggest entertainment.
She loved wandering alone. Moreover, Daphne swore to live forever alone. She despised men, so she absolutely did not want to get married.
However, Apollo was crazy about her, and would not let her go. When they came across in the woods, God Apollo wanted to talk to this beautiful woman, but Daphne got scared of him and started to run. Apollo could not persuade her to stop no matter what he said, for Daphne got scared already. She ran and ran, until she could not any longer, then she collapsed, and started to beg the mother earth.
“Mother earth, cover me, hide me, save me.”
Mother earth heard her crying, and after a while, Daphne started to feel that her aching legs were getting hardened, lignified. A gray bark covered her chest. Her odorous hair became leaves, and her arms grew longer as branches, and her small feet became roots and went deep in the earth.
Apollo was shocked to bump into a tree while trying to hug the girl he loved. After that day, Daphne tree became Apollo’s favorite tree, and Daphne leaves became the wreath on top of the young god’s hair. Heroes wore wreath made of Daphne leaves as a reward.
Daphne’s tears created the Harbiye Fall.
Daphne leaf is a plant fondly used by many people due to its pleasant odor and aroma. Especially when it is used in dishes, it adds a great taste and aroma. It is preferred by most people in meat and fish food. Famous diners use the leaves of this curative and delicious plant abundantly.
Daphne is an evergreen tree that is known for its odor world-wide, and its branches has represented peace throughout the history. Fruits and leaves of Daphne tree is used separately in many fields.
In Europe, tomato paste is cooked with daphne leaves so that the paste is more durable and delicious, and pastes made this was do not get moldy for long periods. Daphne leaves are included to many dishes to add flavor. And daphne oil is obtained from the fruits of daphne tree as well, and is used in cosmetics and soap production.
Hatay pomegranate is the highest quality pomegranate in Turkey. Producing its syrup is hard and tedious. It is made of ungrafted pomegranates. Pomegranates harvested from trees grown in high mountain sides on barren lands in August and September are cut into two pieces.
These cut pomegranates are granulated by hitting on the peels with fresh cut wooden sticks. Then the seeds are put into a clean sack, trampled down on a firm and clean ground, and the juice is filtered. Squeezed pomegranates juice is boiled in large cauldrons with wood fire for around 6 hours.
Pomegranate juice is stirred while being boiled, and the foam accumulating on top is continuously removed.
After the juice is well-boiled, its color turns into dark black, and when consistence is enough, it is put off the fire and cooled. 1kg of pomegranate syrup is obtained from 15kg of pomegranates.
Real pomegranate syrup is highly consistent, just like honey, has a harsh taste and almost black color.
WATER OLIVE :
Hatay is one of the few cities in Turkey that maintain the traditional olive oil production. In Hatay, olive oil is is produced with a special technique called “water olive”. It is made of Halhalı olive, which is one of the highest quality olive of our region.
This technique operates this way; ripe olives are crushed in a large stone mortar, and then hot water is poured on the crushed olives. Pureed olives and hot water becomes slurry through mixing. Women squeeze these puree out the hot water.
The oil accumulating on the water in special pools are collected from the surface of the hot water. Since the temperature of the hot water used in the production process is not very high, the output of the olives is low, but the quality of the olive oil is high.
It is especially important not to break the seeds while crushing the olives. Quality of the Water Olive is high since the crushed bitter seed oil does not get mixed with the olive.
Since producing olive oil with this technique is really hard, it is mostly produced to meet the needs of the household rather than commercial purposes, and only private companies sell this in small quantities.
This olive oil is crushed in large stone mortars set in the village streets using horses or donkeys, and produced for private needs in pits in courtyards of houses, or in public pits. Since the process requires lost of effort and the cost is high, it is not produced for commercial purposes. Oil acid rate is 0.
In Altınözü district of Hatay, local people offer “Cheese Halva” to people who will help in the process of water olive, so that they are strengthened. With the first olive produced, “Bulgur with Pepper” is made and treated to everyone.
It is obtained through squeezing the Halhalı Olives, which are harvested without becoming fully ripe, with Cold Squeezing Methods. Acid rates of this olive is 0.6. Taste, smell and vitamins in the olive are not lost.
Cold Squeezed Olive Oil is a type of oil that is obtained without using any hight heat or chemical substances during the production process. Temperature does not exceed 30% in Cold Squeeze Oils.
VILLAGE CLAMP OLIVE OIL
It is the olive oil that is used by every villager that produce its own oil, and it is a traditional and filtered olive oil that leaves a light fruit taste in the mouth. Olives harvested in October and November are directly taken to olive clamps, which can be found almost anywhere in Hatay.
Meticulously separated and then washed olives are crushed in the clamp, and thus olive oil is obtained. Olive oil does not go through any chemical processes during its production, and under no circumstances it is mixed with other oils.
Due to lots of oxygen, favorable climate, and the suitable soil structure provided by the Mediterranean Sea, this olive oil would just easily go through your throat even though you drank it.