Friday, 6 April 2012

Turkish flatbreads and a trip to Green Lanes

Much as marathoners carbo-load before the big race, I like to ensure that the meals before Passover contain enough bread products to see me through the next 8 days. Wednesday night there was homemade pizza, slathered with ricotta and wild garlic. Thursday, with a day off work, I made a much-anticipated trip to Green Lanes, a neighbourhood in Northeast London which is home to a large Turkish and Kurdish population, knowing that I’d find lots of things there that would soon be off-limits.

I began with a lahmacun, a thin, lamb-topped flatbread. One of the most popular restaurants on the strip, Antepliler, has expanded its operations to several other storefronts, one featuring casseroles and breads from an enormous open oven. Here, the young usta, or oven-master, rolled out a round of dough slightly thicker than a pita, then smeared it with a few tablespoons of a highly-seasoned minced lamb and garlic mixture. This was pushed into the oven on a long pole, from which it emerged several minutes later blistered but still pliable, to be topped with a salad of rocket, grated carrots and herbs and rolled up in a piece of paper. Not a bad (light) lunch for £1.50.

I ate it while inspecting the window display at a baklava shop, then headed several blocks north to Yasar Halim, a large, long-established bakery with well upwards of 100 varieties of cakes, cookies, breads and filled and topped sweet and savoury pastries. Amongst those I could recognise were tahinli, coils of sweet , yeasted dough layered with sesame paste, something I last had on a Golden Horn ferry ride and pide, canoe-shaped flatbreads topped with cheese and slices of beef sausage (sujuk). (The photo here is of a particularly good egg and lamb version which I had in Istanbul.) I came away with a spicy spinach pastry and a sweet one filled with pistachios and clotted cream—snacks for the late afternoon train ride up to Liverpool.

And to finish off, back to the Antepilier franchise for a bowl of spicy lamb and rice broth, served with a basket of warm, dimpled bread, crispy at the corners from a flash under the charcoal grill. I’ll be back soon for more breads, and photos, hopefully including the women who sit at the front of many of the restaurants making gรถzleme, almost like savoury crepes cooked on a concave griddle, with fillings of spinach, cheese, eggs and grated potatoes.

For now, though, it’s matzah time.

46 Green Lanes London N4
(020) 8802 5588
Tube: Manor House

Yasar Halim
495 Green Lanes
London N4 1AL
Tube: Manor House

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