I’ve never seen sweet potatoes in Turkey. Although potato is something widely consumed here, we only know the yellow ones. There are small and large varieties here, but always yellow, as far as I saw. Therefore, when I saw the sweet potato recipes in blogs (sweet potato soup, fried sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, etc.), I could only imagine how they taste like. I was guessing it tastes like something between yellow potato and pumpkins. I wasn’t wrong, though. Last week, mum bought me one large sweet potato from the grocery store, which was, and therefore expensive. After seeing that, I wondered why they’re not grown in Turkey, is there something about the weather conditions or the soil type, but they didn’t make sense at all, because we have yellow potatoes, and Turkey has some very productive lands and has many types of plants. So, I made some research, and I found that sweet potatoes originated from South America, and somehow never managed to come here. But, in Southern Turkey, they have started to grow sweet potatoes. So, we’re planning to buy some seeds and plant them in fall (that’s when they’re grown).
Actually, there are a lot more things that should grow in Turkey (because of the climate), but somehow don’t, or couldn’t manage to be discovered by the farmers. The first (and I think the most important) one is blueberries. We cannot buy blueberries in groceries (I don’t talk about the expensive, tasteless, imported ones). But they actually grow by themselves in Northern Turkey. My grandma is from Trabzon (a city in the northern region of Turkey), and they go to their plateau house in summers. When we visit them, we collect blueberries from the hills, which are naturally grown there. They grow in bushes, so they’re smaller, but they taste amazing.
That’s where my grandparents spend six months of the year:
And, that’s where they spend their summer:
The naturally-grown blueberries we picked two summers ago:
The second one is the purple-colored vegetables, like purple potatoes, purple corns or purple carrots. I have also never seen them in groceries, and but my grandma told me that some of the corns she plants come out purple. I’ll advise her to plant the purple ones and see what happens! These things surely grow somewhere in Turkey, but not massively grown or commercialized. So, here’s a shout out to all farmers, and groceries: we want varities OK? We want to see fancy colored vegetables!
But we’re lucky in some aspects, I’ll have to say that. For example, pomegranate is cheap here and you can find it everywhere. In winter time, there’s nothing better than a glass of freshly juiced orange and pomegranates and I fully use the advantage of the availability of pomegranate in Turkey!
Turning back to the story, when mum bought me the sweet potato, I knew I had to use it wisely. So to experiment its taste for the first time I decided to make my grandma’s potato meal with this potato.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Potato meal may seem to be a fancy food and require a lot of work, but it’s very simple. It’s very similar potato puree. It can actually be a type of potato puree, but I eat it as main dish! My grandma always makes some for me when she visits us, and it’s nice to eat it with some yogurt. It’s my favorite grandma recipe. And you know what, it turned out that it’s ten times better when made with sweet potatoes!
My next attempt will be making “kumpir” (Turkish style baked potato) from sweet potatoes. I cannot imagine how delish they will turn out. I really liked the sweetness of these potatoes. Yum!
Sweet Potato Meal
makes for 2
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (It’s widely used in Turkish meals, try to find it. It really makes a difference in this recipe.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon butter (I used clarified butter, that’s what my grandma uses.)
- yogurt – for serving
Peel the potato, and cut into small pieces (to make it cook faster).
Cook the potatoes in boiling water. Meanwhile sautee the onions and garlic with olive oil and butter. When the onions turn pink, add the tomato puree, salt and pepper.
When the potato is cooked, mash it coarsely. This is important. You shouldn’t get the consistency of purée; you should just coarsely mash them, but not that coarsely of course. There’s a thin line between them, just stay on that line!
Add the potatoes on onions and mix them. Cook this mixture for 3 more minutes.
Serve the meal with yogurt.