(Written by Shahir Naga 7.8.2022)
A few months ago, I tried to cook Turkish gözleme for the first time. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a terrible experience. But first, what is gözleme? Gözleme is a traditional Turkish pastry. It is made of thin layers of dough filled with toppings and cooked. The Crispy golden Turkish flatbreads are stuffed with tasty fillings. You can choose from spinach and feta or spiced beef or lamb.
Gözleme usually has spinach and cheese inside. The dough is traditionally made with flour, salt, and water. In this recount, I will describe how I came up with the idea of making my first homemade gözleme, what went wrong and the lessons I learned from that experience.
Making my first homemade gözleme.
One night, after finishing work and staying in the city until 10 o’clock at night, I was driving back home. I was hungry. While driving, I saw a kebab shop on the way. So, I stopped by and ordered a gözleme with cheese and spinach. I paid $15 and had to wait almost 20 minutes in the cold before the food was ready. After grabbing my gözleme in a box, I sat in my car, turned on the aircon and enjoyed the food. It was delicious! But then I wondered if I could make it myself and save some money! So, I opened YouTube on my phone and typed ‘How to make Gözleme’. I came across gazillions of videos on the topic. I watched a video that was easy to follow and thought to myself, ‘Let’s do it!’
After a few days, I watched the same video again and wrote down all the ingredients. I had to buy all-purpose flour, spinach, chilli flakes and feta cheese. I didn’t need to buy the other ingredients, such as salt, oil, and pepper, as I already had them at home. After watching the video, I also realized I had to buy a wood rolling board and a dough board to make the dough. I went to Kmart and purchased the rolling pin and board. It cost me about $30. Then, I went to the local fruit and vegetable market in Sunshine to buy the ingredients I needed to make gözleme. Being health conscious, instead of buying all-purpose flour, I bought wholemeal flour. That was a big mistake! I will explain why shortly.
How to make gözleme
That night, I was excited to make my first gözleme, confident that it would taste good. After taking a shower, I went to the kitchen and laid all the necessary ingredients on the kitchen benchtop. Using my phone, I went on YouTube and searched for the same video again. I found the same video quickly and made sure that I followed all the steps to the letter. There are 9 essential steps to making gözleme.
Step 1. You need to make the dough and allow it to rest. Combine the ingredients and allow it to rest before shaping it.
Step 2. You need to divide, portion, and shape the dough. Lightly dust the surface with flour and place the dough there. Gently deflate it and shape it into a log. Cut the dough into 6 equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball.
Step 3. You need to make the fillings. In my case, spinach, and cheese.
Step 4. You need to roll the dough into skinny sheets.
Step 5. You need to add the fillings into one half and fold the other half over it to form a half circle.
Step 6. Make sure you cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel while you work to prevent them from drying out. You need to seal the edges with your fingers.
Step 7. You need to cook the gözleme. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook each gözleme for about 3-4 minutes per side.
Step 8. Brush the gözleme with olive oil after transferring the cooked gözleme onto a paper towel.
Step 9. Cut the gözleme into triangles.
Step 10. Serve the gözleme with ayran.
What went wrong
Unfortunately, while making gözleme, a few things went wrong. First, the dough was not sticking together. Perhaps my biggest mistake was buying wholemeal flour instead of all-purpose flour. I could get it to stick together when making the dough. That made it difficult when rolling the dough into balls. It looked like a ball with a lot of holes in it! ☹ When I realized that, I didn’t want to give up. I carried on making the gözleme. I managed to get around 6 balls of dough.
Without waiting for the dough to settle, I started to roll it with the wooden rolling pin I had purchased from Kmart. That was another mistake. I should have waited for the dough to stabilize. When I started rolling it, I realized I needed a much larger space to make the dough thinner. Anyway, I continued despite the dough being quite thick.
Next, when it was time for me to insert the fillings. That was an easy part. Then, I had to close it so that both edges meet to form a semi-circle. I used my two fingers to make the edges stick and applied pressure on both sides. I forgot to trim the edges. I thought it wasn’t that important. Later, I realized that this step helps make the edges stick together.
After cooking both sides for a few minutes on a pan, I removed it and placed it on a plate. It didn’t taste like the one I bought from the kebab shop! It was good enough but thick.
I cooked the rest while watching TV in the lounge room. Some of the gözleme got slightly burned because I left them on the frying pan a bit longer. It wasn’t an experience to remember!
I learned a few lessons from that experience. The first lesson I learned was that all details matter. To do something well, you must pay attention to the little stuff. Every big thing is made up of small things. You need to pay attention to detail.
I also realized that making mistakes is part of the learning process. We will always make mistakes at the start. Things rarely go well at first, but practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better you get at anything. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice!
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