When we were in Istanbul this spring, our family friends hosted us at their home. Not only did we have a lovely bedroom, but they shuttled us around on outings, showed us favorite restaurants, and prepared special meals at home. Our friends don’t speak English and we don’t speak Turkish, so we have a special place in our hearts for google translate.
Each evening, our hosts’ daughter and granddaughter joined us for dinner. The daughter (also a friend) speaks English fluently, so we luckily had a very clear description of everything we ate so I could try to replicate dishes at home.
One night, our host mom, Füsün, prepared a seafood feast with about a million side dishes. To me, the most interesting thing on the table was this dip for fried calamari–yogurt walnut dip. I have no idea if this is a traditional dish or just a specialty of the house, but I ate extra calamari (I’m not the biggest fan) just to get at the dip.
This recipe is my approximation of the dip, but I served it with baked fingerling potatoes instead of calamari. I like the potatoes as a dip vehicle because their soft texture doesn’t get in the way of the dip’s odd creamy/nutty feeling. The tangy yogurt of the dip is grounded by the earthy walnuts, and it just wouldn’t be Turkish to leave out the garlic.
Turkish Walnut Yogurt Dip with New Potatoes
Note: in my recipe, I have you strain the yogurt. If you’d like a shortcut, feel free to use Greek yogurt instead of straining regular yogurt. Use 1-1/3 cups yogurt instead.
2 cups plain yogurt (I prefer fat free, but you can use what you like)
1 cup walnuts
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, smashed
Sumac or smoked paprika for garnish
Roasted new potatoes (see instructions with ingredients below)
Set a sieve over the rim of a bowl and line it with a clean, lint-free towel. Put the yogurt in the lined sieve and refrigerate the whole works for about two hours, until much of the liquid has strained out and collected in the bowl underneath.
Pulse the walnuts in your food processor until quite fine. Add the strained yogurt, salt, olive oil, and garlic and process until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkling of sumac or smoked paprika. Refrigerate until serving.
Instructions for roasted new potatoes:
For the potatoes, preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Pour a glug of olive oil on the baking sheet and sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Slice your new potatoes (a pound or two, depending on how many people you want to feed) in half, or in quarters if they’re bigger. Toss the potatoes in the oil, salt, and pepper to coat. Roast until a little crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, stirring every 10 minutes, about 20-25 minutes total.