Talking Turkey by Robert Hendrickson

  • Full Title : Talking Turkey: A Food Lover’s Guide to the Origins of Culinary Words and Phrases
  • Autor: Robert Hendrickson
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication Date: February 11, 2014
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1626365504
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626365506
  • Download File Format: epub


Food is a favorite topic of conversation around the world—how to create it, how to season it, how to compliment it with other foods, how to serve it…the list goes on. Yet little attention is paid to where the names of food actually come from or why so many phrases we use daily involve food, whether or not they actually relate to the kitchen. Bring some history to the table with this delightful phrasebook!


About the Author

Robert Hendrickson is the author of more than twenty-five books including American Literary Anecdotes and God Bless America: The Origins of Over 1,500 Patriotic Words and Phrases. He has a deep-rooted love for the English language. He lives in Peconic, New York.



dark chocolate, pasta dough, cooking recipes, pork chow mein, breweries near me with food, coffee of the month club, bread recipes, vegetables and fruits, italian antipasto, grillade, vegan cupcakes, chinese food facts, crab recipes, flat iron steak, birthday cupcakes, traditional lasagna, meat processing, more wine, novelty cakes, paleo chicken recipes,
d of the region is simple stuff and easy to recreate at home without actually having to build a clay oven in your garden.



Viki is one of our favourite customers. Favourite customers all have one thing in common: they smile a lot, and Viki never stops. She is also very kind, and as a vegetarian she has been tireless in helping us test recipes over the years.

Upon discovering that I was no longer on speaking terms with wheat, our Viki came in brandishing a big wodge of dhokla as a gift for me one day. It is seriously weird at first bite (it is in essence a fiery, savoury sponge), but oddly addictive, and gloriously gluten-free. This is her neighbour’s recipe, and the recipe is just as odd as the end product, not least because the magic ingredient is actually Eno salts.


200g/7oz chickpea (gram) flour

150g/5½oz (or 3–4 tbsp) plain yogurt (runny and sour rather than thick and creamy)

250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup water

2–3 green chillies, chopped

4–5cm/1½–2in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp salt

oil, for greasing

2 tsp Eno powder* (effervescent health salts)


1 tbsp oil

2 tsp brown mustard seeds

6–10 curry leaves (fresh or dried)

2 pinches of salt

1 scant tsp sugar

50ml/2fl oz/scant ¼ cup water


fresh grated or desiccated (dry unsweetened) coconut

fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

The night before, mix the chickpea flour, yogurt and half the water in a bowl and beat well to get rid of any lumps, then stir in the remaining water to make a thick, smooth batter. Cover the bowl and leave on your kitchen counter overnight. This resting period is so the yogurt can sour slightly, and it really deepens the flavour.

The next day, when you are ready to start cooking, set up your steaming equipment and get it boiling so it’s ready for the dhokla. Put a clean tea towel over the lid, to catch the steam drips, but be careful to keep the ends folded up so they don’t catch fire.

Add the chopped chilli and ginger to the batter along with the turmeric and salt, and stir in well.

Grease a 20cm/8in cake tin that will fit inside your steamer. Put one-quarter of the mixture (2 scant ladlefuls) in a small, clean bowl and sprinkle with one-quarter of the Eno powder. Stir the mixture gently, but thoroughly, in one direction, so all the mixture fluffs up. You need to be fairly quick doing this, to keep the mixture aerated while it cooks.

Recipe continues overleaf.

Pour into the greased cake tin and put in to steam for 10–15 minutes, or until well risen. You can test for doneness with a skewer, as you would for a cake. Remove from the steamer and leave to cool in its bowl for around 10 minutes before loosening around the edge with a knife and turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Once the dhokla is cooked, put the tempering oil and mustard seeds in a lidded pan over a medium heat and cook until the seeds start popping, about 1 minute. Add the curry leaves and cook for a minute longer. Next, add the salt, sugar and water, and cook over a high heat for another minute.

Cut the cooled dhokla into diamond shapes around 5cm/2in long and sprinkle over the tempering mixture, turning the pieces over gently to ensure proper coverage. This mixture will give flavour and render the dhokla lovely and moist.

Arrange prettily on a plate, scatter with coconut and coriander leaves and serve with a bowl of minty chutney (see bonus recipe below), if you like.

The dhokla keeps in a cake tin for several days, although to be honest I can’t leave the stuff alone, so it lasts around 5 minutes in our shop-hold.

* Note on Eno powder If it is unavailable, just make your own by mixing 60% bicarbonate of soda with 40% citric acid.


Chutney to me always suggests something that grannies make by means of a closely guarded recipe, a cauldron and a very strong desire to out-do Deirdre at the next bridge club fundraiser. It is in fact easy enough to make without witchcraft, comes in numerous varieties, and can be done in minutes with a blender (also see the Quick Cucumber Chutney).

Place a huge handful of mint and a huge handful of coriander in the blender along with 1 large red pepper, cut into chunks, 1 small red onion, cut into chunks, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 2 garlic cloves, 2 red chillies, 2cm/¾in peeled fresh ginger and the juice and grated zest of 2 limes. Blend for a minute or so, then add salt to taste.


Adding oil makes this chutney more durable (if you want to keep it a few days in the fridge) and versatile (for use, say, as a salad dressing), while adding yogurt makes it a dip already…



Have I ever told you how rubbish I am at baking? I am the antithesis of the domestic goddess. I can’t sew either. Mr Shopkeeper married me full knowing these weaknesses, but when the topic of home economics strays into the conversation I do catch him smirking occasionally.

Anyway, the point is that this recipe is really easy. It does not rely on a carefully cultivated hand-me-down starter, nor does it require you to spend a week cooching and coaxing it to do its stuff. It is made for the time-poor and the domestically challenged. This is because it’s a cheat, and sneaks in some regular yeast on the side.

Matnakash is a fat bread rather than a flat bread, although it barely extends beyond the two dimensional as once it has been leavened it is stretched out into a flat oval shape. It is pretty much the national bread of Armenia.


1 level tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 sachet (7g/¼oz) dried yeast (or 15g/½oz fresh)

100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

125g/4½oz/½ cup melted, cooled butter

250g/9oz/generous 1 cup super-thick, live, plain yogurt

350g/12oz/2½ cups plain (all-purpose) flour

1 egg

1 tbsp poppy or caraway seeds

Sprinkle the salt, sugar and yeast on to the water, stir once and leave to effervesce quietly together for 10–15 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the bicarbonate of soda into the butter, followed by the yogurt. Add the yeasty water to the butter mix, then sift in the flour, mixing well with a spoon until it comes together, then kneading for a few minutes with your hands. Roll it into a ball and cover the bowl either with a damp tea towel or some greased clingfilm. Now leave to rise somewhere warm for around 1 hour. It should more or less double in size.

Next, split the dough into 2 balls, and pull them (whence the bread gets its name, as matnakash actually means hand-pulled) into flat oval shapes. Use your thumbs to form a thick rim around the edge, and the handle of a teaspoon to draw furrows (or birds, or noughts and crosses, or whatever – but the furrows are traditional) into the dough. Leave the dough to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Beat the egg and brush the risen dough with it before sprinkling over your seeds of choice. Bake on a greased baking tray for around 30 minutes, or until golden and firm.

This bread is best enjoyed soon after baking, but will last wrapped in plastic wrap or greaseproof paper for up to 3 days.

Vayelel! Which you have probably guessed means ‘Enjoy!’ in Armenian.


Einkorn and emmer are ancient wheat varieties, first grown in the area now covered by eastern Turkey through Iraq to western Iran (i.e. the fertile crescent). They were the first crops ever cultivated by mankind, and are now coming back into popularity, as they are more nutritious and less irritating to the gut than modern cultivars. I cannot eat wheat, but spelt, einkorn and emmer are all just dandy – if you have digestive issues you might want to give them a shot; just a thought.

This is a soft, rich, nutty bread – one of those that are really quite dangerous when they are just out of the oven and the butter is nearby…


500g/1lb 2oz/4 cups einkorn flour

1 tsp sugar

1 sachet (7g/¼oz) easy-blend dried yeast

350ml/12fl oz/1½ cups water

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

100g/3½oz sundried tomatoes (I use the ones stored in oil as they are more malleable), cut into small pieces

3 tsp nigella seeds

Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a bowl using a wooden spoon, then your hands to work it into a dough. Add the salt only after you have begun to mix the other ingredients – it will otherwise stop the yeast from working. Knead the dough for a few minutes, then roll it into a ball, cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm to rise for an hour or so.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Knead the dough again and mix in the sundried tomatoes and nigella seeds. Divide the dough into 2 balls, and shape them into flat rounds. Mark a cross in the top of each, then bake on a greased baking tray for around 30 minutes, or until golden and firm.

Cool on a wire rack. The bread is best enjoyed fresh, but will keep for a day or two if you wrap it in plastic. Like most bread, it freezes perfectly well.


Stuffed Georgian Bread

This is a lovely, slightly greasy stuffed bread; a baked sandwich and perfect anytime, anywhere snack fare. It is hardly surprising that it is one of Georgia’s favourite munches. It originates from a chocolate-box-pretty part of the country called Svaneti which is totally on my bucket list (this is just in case Mr Shopkeeper is reading, you understand).

The authentic recipe uses a mixture of chopped meats, but I have subbed spinach, chickpeas, apricots and cheese.


500g/1lb 2oz/3½ cups plain (all-purpose) flour, plus a little for resting and rolling

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

250g/9oz/generous 1 cup softened butter + 2 tsp extra

3 eggs + 1 egg yolk

250g/9oz/1 cup thick plain yogurt


2 small bunches of spinach, chopped

1 fat bunch of spring onions (scallions), chopped

100g/3½oz/½ cup dried apricots, chopped

1½ x 400g/14oz cans chickpeas, drained (keep the rest for a salad)

200g/7oz sulguni (that’s Georgian cheese to you) or other soft feta-ish cheese

2 eggs

2 tsp sumac

1 tbsp dried dill

1 tsp ground black pepper

To make the dough, sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl and chop the 250g/9oz/generous 1 cup of butter into the mixture, mixing firstly with a wooden spoon and then with your hands. Whisk the eggs and yogurt and stir them into the dough until it all comes together. Knead briefly before shaping into a ball, rolling in flour, covering with clingfilm and allowing it to rest somewhere warm for an hour.

In the meantime, to the filling… just squidge all the filling ingredients together and set aside until you are ready to cook.

After an hour, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Place the rested dough on a floury board and divide it into 6 even balls. Flatten each dough ball and roll them out into 24cm/9½in or so discs. Spoon one-sixth of the filling into the middle of the first disc, leaving at least 6cm/2½in of dough visible all round. Fold this rim up into the middle and press the dough together, thus sealing the kubdari with the filling inside. Press down gently so that the bread resembles a small Frisbee and place on an oiled, floured baking sheet before repeating the exercise with the rest of the dough and filling.

Melt the remaining knob of butter and beat it with the egg yolk before using it to glaze your 6 stuffed loaves.

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a shiny golden brown. Serve hot with pickles and baskets of fresh herbs, or cold as a really cracking picnic number.


Across most of Afghanistan bread is pretty much all homemade. This has as much to do with geography as economics: the wild terrain means that a quick pop to the ‘supermarket’ could take up to a day. Bread is usually made from a sourdough starter retained from the previous day, and is almost always wholemeal. Loaves are baked in a tandoor, or clay oven: large or remote homes will usually have their own oven, but most villages have communal ones (nan-waee) where bread can be baked for just a few afghani (yes, the currency of Afghanistan is the afghani).

I’m prepared to bet that even the most hipster dudes among you out there don’t actually have a tandoor oven in your back garden, but this bread cooks perfectly in a hot domestic oven.


1 sachet (7g/¼oz) dried yeast

2 tsp sugar

325ml/11oz/scant 1½ cups warm water

500g/1lb 2oz/4 cups chapati flour (or atta)*

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2½ tbsp caraway seeds (or use poppy, or nigella seeds, or a mixture)

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar on to the warm water and leave for 15 minutes while the yeast gets busy.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then slowly add the wet yeast mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon, then add the oil and half of the caraway seeds and start kneading the dough with your hands. After 5 minutes, roll the dough into a ball, cover with a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm to rise for around an hour, or it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7, and pop 1–2 foil-lined baking sheets in to warm up.

Now divide your dough into 3 balls, and punch them down into oval shapes of around 2cm/¾in thickness. Use the handle of a teaspoon to mark out some grooves (traditionally a male baker uses a knife for this, while a lady baker forges rougher grooves with her fingers – but no, I have no idea why), and sprinkle the rest of the seeds over the loaves. Remove the hot baking sheet/s from the oven and slide the na’an on to them. Bake for around 10–12 minutes, or until the bread is golden and firm.

This bread doesn’t keep very well and is best eaten while still warm. If you do want to use it the next day, just wet it a little before heating it through in the oven.


This isn’t difficult to find, but you can always substitute a really finely ground wholemeal flour.

Boulanee Katchalu


Fried potato pies – this has to be the ultimate Afghan comfort food, especially welcome during the long shivery winter. They are traditionally enjoyed hot, but add a garlicky yogurt sauce (see bonus recipe below) and they’ll stand up as picnic or buffet fare as well. Boulanee come in two flavours: the recipe for the leek variety is to be found in my earlier book, Veggiestan.

This is the lovely Helen Saberi’s recipe. Helen, like me, is married to Veggiestan: she met her Afghan husband while she was working in Afghanistan, and he and his family gave her the keys to the Afghan kitchen door. She is to Afghan cuisine what Elizabeth David is to Italy: her book Noshe Djan remains seminal to the region’s food.


450g/1lb/scant 3¼ cups plain white (all-purpose) flour (or use ½ plain and ½ chapati flour)

3 tsp salt

225ml/8fl oz/1 cup cold water

900g/2lb potatoes, peeled

1 bunch of spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

1 tsp ground black pepper

oil, for frying

Sift the flour into a bowl and add 1 teaspoon salt together with enough water to bind it all together into a firm dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for at least 30 minutes.

Boil the potatoes in water along with the rest of the salt; when they are soft, drain and mash, then add the spring onions and pepper.

Next, divide the dough into 4 balls and roll them out on a floured board – you are aiming for around 1.5mm/1/16 in in thickness. Use an inverted glass or tin to stamp out as many rounds of dough as possible: I found 10–12cm/4–4½in to be a good size, while Helen recommends 13–15cm/5–6in. Place a spoonful of potato mix on half of each circle, then fold over the other half and crimp the edges together to form a semi-circular patty.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a pan and fry the boulanee, a few at a time, until golden and crisp-ish. They are best enjoyed fresh and warm, or cold with the dipping sauce below.


There is no food more typical of Afghanistan than quroot, which is dried, salted whey or yogurt. Many say it tastes like old socks. Quroot is often used reconstituted in water to form a thick, moreish sauce, and it is this flavour which we are trying to recapture here. Beat 150ml/5fl oz/2/3 cup super-thick plain yogurt with 150ml/5fl oz/2/3 cup cream cheese, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons dill and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Season to taste and serve with just about anything.



Doughnuts for breakfast. What could be finer? If Homer Simpson was Libyan… er, no, that wouldn’t work. Anyway, these not entirely slimming snacks can be enjoyed throughout the day with a myriad toppings, so don’t let the breakfast tag put you off.


150ml/5fl oz/2/3 cup warm milk

150ml/5fl oz/2/3 cup warm water

1 sachet (7g/¼oz) dried yeast

1 tsp sugar

450g/1lb/3¼ cups plain (all-purpose) flour

1 tsp salt

50ml/2fl oz/scant ¼ cup olive oil

oil, for frying

Place the milk and water in a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar on top and leave for 15 minutes so that the yeast can get busy.

Sift the flour into a bowl along with the salt. Make a well in the middle and slowly work the wet yeast mixture in, followed by the olive oil. Roll the resultant dough into a ball, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise for at least 1 hour, if not 2.

When the hour is up, knead the dough for a few minutes, then divide it into 10 little balls, and place them on a greased oven tray. Once again, cover them with a damp cloth and leave them somewhere warm for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to fry your sfinz, press each one out into a round of about 12cm/4½in, leaving a slightly fatter rim around the edge. Heat at least 2cm/¾in of oil in a frying pan: once it is hot, fry the sfinz, 1 or 2 at a time, before draining on kitchen paper. Alternatively, you could fill them…

The most common ‘filling’ is an egg, wherein the egg is fried inside the sfinz. Fry your doughnut on one side – as soon as the batter pops and becomes convex, flip the sfinz over and crack an egg into the bowl shape. Splash the egg with oil to cook the top: if you like your eggs sunny-side down, you can then flip the whole doughnut over again and brown it. Eat straight away with a big smile on your face: brown sauce optional. You can also fill them with date syrup or honey and cream, or with cheese and hararat*.



My new fave spice mix. It is a sweet-but-fiery five-spice mix – easy to make at home: mix 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon with 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground fennel and 1 teaspoon ground chilli. It works well roasted with root veg and smuggled into cheese pies or snucked into Waldorf-type salad dressings.

While we’re at it, you should also know about bzaar, if for no other reason than the fact that it is such a nice word. It is another Libyan mix worth having in your pantry – it spices up dolmeh and kufteh no end. Mix

1 teaspoon ground turmeric,

1 teaspoon ground ginger,

1 teaspoon ground cumin,

1 teaspoon ground black pepper,

1 teaspoon ground cloves,

1 teaspoon ground paprika and

1 teaspoon ground chilli.

Su Boregi


This is basically a lasagne pie – soft pastr


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *