Ottolenghi believes that Turkish cuisine is one of the most exciting and accomplished in the world. I would argue that Indian is, but the cuisines between Indian and the Mediterranean definitely come close. Ottolenghi’s Book Plenty contains this unusual savoury cake (perhaps a pie) from the Turkish part of Northern Cyprus (where it is called Kibris Böreği). A version of this dish is also known in Greece, being made in the Drama Region of Greece’s Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, where it’s known as Asmapita. The name comes from the Turkish word Asma, which means grapevine.
Ottolenghi credits a book Classic Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Basan, so I borrowed the book to browse through. It is a great book if you are looking for Turkish recipes. I recommend it. There is also a version in Aglai Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts. She makes the pies in small terracotta pots and in shallow muffin tins. She uses more yoghurt for a thicker pie, but keeping it thinner means that it slices very well. Paula Wolfert suggests making these as wrapped parcels, and I suspect she grills them. But I love this recipe. It is delicious and can be cut into spectacular wedges.
The recipe caught our attention because we have a Vine Leaf thing going at the moment, using them in a number of ways. We haven’t made dolmades yet, but they are on the list. Have a look at what we have made so far. There are more to come.
This is a dish where a shallow layer of yoghurt mixed with herbs and thickened with rice flour is baked wrapped in vine leaves! Grape leaves impart their exceptional flavour and aroma to the filling as it bakes. The breadcrumbs and sesame seeds add a crunchy layer to each slice. How very delicious! This recipe comes together in minutes, tastes great, and can be eaten warm or cold. It is an excellent contribution to a table of mezze.
Have I mentioned too, how the grape vine leaves are scented, and the kitchen begins to smell like a grape arbour. As you scald them, they release the fragrance. As I dry them in the sun the outside deck is scented with grape vines. As they bake, they have a lovely woody, grapevine aroma.
just out of the oven
Baked Yoghurt Encrusted with Vine Leaves
15-20 vine leaves, fresh or from a jar
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 Tblspn olive oil
20g unsalted butter, melted
25g pine nuts, lightly toasted
200g Greek or Indian yoghurt, plus extra
½ Tblspn finely chopped tarragon (optional)
2 Tblspn finely chopped parsley
3 Tblspn finely chopped dill
4 Tblspn finely chopped mint
80g rice flour (50g – 80g fine cornmeal can be used, but rice flour is better)
1½ Tblspn dry breadcrumbs or roasted sesame seeds
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 190C. Put the vine leaves in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water, leave for a few minutes, then remove and dry on a tea towel. Trim off and discard the bit of hard stem at the base of each leaf.
Sauté the shallots in a tablespoon of oil for about eight minutes, until light brown, and set aside to cool.
Take a round, shallow ovenproof dish around 20cm in diameter, and cover its base and sides with vine leaves – let them hang over the edge. Mix the butter with two tablespoons of oil, and liberally brush the leaves with two-thirds of this.
In a bowl, mix the shallots, pine nuts, yoghurt and herbs, and season, then stir in the rice flour until you have a homogeneous paste. Spread this evenly over the leaves on the bottom of the dish, then fold over the overhanging leaves so they cover the edges of the filling. Use the remaining leaves to cover the filling completely, then brush with the remaining butter and oil mix. Scatter breadcrumbs on top and drizzle with the remaining oil.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the leaves crisp up and the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove, leave to cool for at least 10 minutes, then cut into wedges. Serve hot, warmish or at room temperature with a dollop of yoghurt alongside or on top.
recipe notes and alternatives
Serve with a fresh-tasting salad, such as Tabouleh, or a Cucumber and Tomato Salad with a Dill and Lemon Dressing.
Add chives, or replace tarragon with chives.
Use fine polenta rather than rice flour.
A little preserved lemon can be used instead of rind and juice.
Use spring onions instead of shallots. Even a small white onion works.
To make individual pies, oil 8 – 9 cm muffin tins or ramekins. In each lay 2 – 3 leaves to cover the bottom and sides and divide the mixture between them. Cover each pie with an additional leaf, sprinkle the bread crumbs, drizzle with olive oil, cover loosely with foil and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until set. Turn off the oven heat, remove the foil and leave the pies in the warm oven another 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, invert the tins onto a platter, and serve warm or at room temperature.