This traditional Turkish sesame ring is delicious warm with haydari (which means strained yoghurt) or simply served with butter and feta. I love to eat it as part of a breakfast spread. It's the ultimate street snack in Turkey, and a little part of Istanbul in your home. We cook them in a 300ºC wood-fired oven, so get your oven as hot as possible.
- 2 tsp instant dried yeast
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 225 ml lukewarm water
- 300 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
- 45 ml thickened cream
- 1 tsp table salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) pekmez (grape molasses) (see Note)
- 170 ml water
- 145 g (1 cup) sesame seeds
- 10 ml olive oil
- 30 g dried mint
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 pinch salt
- 100 g labneh (strained yoghurt)
- 50 g goat’s feta
- thinly sliced pastirma (air-dried beef) (see Note), to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour
For the simit, mix the yeast and sugar in a bowl with 150 ml lukewarm water, then set aside for 5 minutes. It should start to form bubbles. Add another 75 ml lukewarm water and stir to combine.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture, oil and cream. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it’s a soft and stretchy dough, adding more flour, if the dough is sticky.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside for 1 hour. It should expand.
Preheat the oven to 230°C or as hot as it can be heated. Line 4 large baking trays with baking paper and grease with oil.
Add the salt to the dough and knead for 3 minutes.
Sprinkle some flour on a work surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Rest for 3 minutes.
With floured hands, pull each ball in half and roll each half into a strip about 50 cm long. Twist the two strips around each other (see Note). Form the twisted dough around into a circle. Cross the ends together and roll over the join with your hands a couple of times to seal.
Dilute the grape molasses with the 170 ml water.
Pour the sesame seeds into a shallow bowl.
Dip the simit into the molasses, one at a time. Turn to coat both sides. Shake off the excess liquid, then press each in the sesame seeds, making sure both sides are evenly coated.
Arrange the simit on the trays and bake, in batches if necessary, for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crusty.
For the haydari, heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat, add the mint and toast for 1 minute. Crush the garlic using a mortar and pestle with the salt until a paste.
Combine the mint oil and garlic paste with the labne. Transfer to a serving bowl and crumble the feta on top.
Serve the warm simit with the haydari and pastirma.
• Pekmez (grape molasses) is available from Middle Eastern grocers.
• Labneh is available from most supermarkets and health food stores, or you can make your own. Place thick yoghurt in a strainer lined with muslin (or a clean Chux) placed over a bowl and leave to drain overnight in the fridge.
• Pastirma (also called basturma) is salt-cured air-dried beef. It’s available from delicatessens.
• At the restaurant, we roll each ball to make a 50 cm rope, then fold the rope in half and twirl the lengths around each other. For the home cook, it's easier to roll each ball to two 25 cm lengths, then plait the lengths together.
Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel.
Somer Sivrioglu is the head chef at Anason and Efendy. This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.
This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.