Whenever we are in Istanbul, I make a point of buying several hundred grams of biber salçası, a beautiful red pepper paste available in both hot (aci) and sweet (tatli) versions which is sold in giant wooden barrels in traditional spice shops. When we get home, I transfer it to a sealed container and keep it in the fridge for weeks providing a fabulous condiment to add to soups, stews and mezze dishes – such as this Turkish biber salçası and yoghurt dip. It’s also fabulous on top of Turkish-style pizzas – pide – and a great accompaniment to caramelised roast vegetables and gutsy salads featuring bulgar wheat and other pulses. Although you can buy pretty good jarred substitutes in Mediterranean supermarkets, it’s well worth making it yourself.
For the biber salçası:
3 long red Romano peppers, de-seeded and sliced in half
3 long red chillies, de-seeded and sliced in half (use less if you want a sweeter paste)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
For the dip:
1 tbsp biber salçası
6 tbsp of Turkish or Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
Chopped pistachios, to garnish
How I make it
Heat an oven to 200C.
Place the peppers and chillies on a baking tray and roast them for around 20 minutes, turning them once, until their skins are blistered and charred. Remove from the oven, place in a bowl, cover with cling film and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
When cool enough to handle, peel the skins away from the peppers and roughly chop the flesh. Scrape the flesh from the chillies with a knife and place in a blender with the peppers. Blend to a smooth paste. Add the lemon juice and season to your taste.
Place in a sealed container and keep in the fridge.
To make the dip, mix together the biber salçası, yoghurt and oil.
Turn out into a pretty bowl and and scatter with pistachios.