Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kuru Yemis -- Turkish Gorp

Americans didn't invent trail mix. Turks have been eating it for centuries.

During my family's recent summer visit to Turkey, I was reminded of one thing I loved during my years of living in that country, which, unfortunately, is being encroached upon. Turks eat very little junk food. Though they love their desserts after dinner, for snacks during the day, they naturally reach for fruit or a handful of what they call kuru yemis, which translates as "dry snack."

Kuru yemis is a very wholesome, healthy mixture of dried fruits and nuts. It's a traditional staple in almost every home, and is gobbled down by young and old alike.

You'll see people walking down the street, dipping their hand in a pocket, then popping a seed or a nut into their mouths. School children carry them in their lunch bags. And many dinner guests in a Turk's home are greeted with bowls of dried nuts and fruits.

Kuru yemis is as varied as the host who puts it together for their guests and mothers who pack it with their children's lunches. It's any combination of a variety of dried fruits and nuts, which are plentiful and convenient throughout the whole of Turkey.

Here's a list of some typical ingredients:

peanuts (salted in their skins)
leblebi (roasted chickpeas)
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds

Not as common, though can be included, are other dried fruits such as apricots, dates, and figs, but any dried fruit or nut can be included.

Almost all of these nuts and fruits can be found in the US. For good quality dried apricots and dates, you'd want to visit your whole foods or natural grocer. And if you're lucky enough to have a mid-eastern grocery nearby, you can probably find leblebi as well.

So, dip in, and have a snack attack, Turkish style!

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