Last week, I went to a dinner party where everyone brought something they made at home. Had soo much fun, ate too much food and was a fantastic night! I made a meze called “atom”, which is a dish made with strained yogurt (in North America we call it “greek yogurt”), garlic and a whole lot of fried hot peppers.
Meze, common throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, is the generic name for small plates, salads, and dips that are meant to be shared. When you pair mezes with drinks, and in Turkey it would be mostly paired with raki, which is Turkey’s beloved aniseed-flavored spirit, or wine, most probably you would order various types of mezes to share, and that would be a meal.
You don’t have to have an elaborate dinner to enjoy a meze meal: A glass of raki (or ouzo in Greece, arak in the Middle East), a slice of feta cheese and melon, a small plate of freshly made atom, maybe one more meze like babaganoush or eggplant salad (or any combination, really) served with some warm pita bread will be perfect. Then, all you need is good company.
Making the atom dish was quite simple, but it was one of the most popular dishes at the table.
Here is the recipe:
1 cup of strained (greek) yogurt
1-2 cloves of garlic
10-15 dried red hot peppers (or mild if you prefer)
salt to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup of olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
1. Smash the garlic and mix with yogurt. If the yogurt is too thick, you may add a few tablespoons of regular yogurt (or water) to thin it. Add some salt to taste.
2. Rinse the peppers and remove the seeds. You may want to wear gloves when removing the seeds if you are using hot peppers. Leave 4-5 of them whole, cut the rest in big chunks.
3. Heat the oil in a pan, then add the peppers. Fry them for a few minutes and remove from the pan. They should be crisp but the color should still be red. For some extra taste and heat, add pepper flakes in the pan now for a hot second and take the pan off the heat immediately, so that it doesn’t burn.
4. Mix the fried pepper chunks with yogurt, and assemble on a shallow plate. Drizzle with oil, fried pepper flakes and decorate with fried whole peppers and serve with bread.