Ezme – Turkish crushed tomato and chilli salad

It’s been an exciting few days. Some readers will be aware that I have a horrible allergic reaction to lobsters (face swells, airways close, scalp comes out in lumps, I get injected with adrenaline and then sleep for two days). Unfortunately, at a Chinese meal on Sunday where the rest of the family was munching their way through a couple of lobsters while I stuck to crab, I must have accidentally ingested some, because the evening saw my eyelids slowly but surely swelling up to resemble one of those bobbly goldfish. The rest of my face soon followed, and I’ve been lying under a duvet, groaning, ever since.

Then, as soon as I felt well enough to tackle a post here, I realised that I’ve left my camera at a party the day before the lobster incident. Fortunately the party was at my parents’ house, where we were celebrating my lovely Dad’s 60th. The camera is safe and sound, but it is about 60 miles away, full of photos, and this does mean that two of the Turkish posts I was planning on making will have to wait until I have it back. Similarly, today’s post has no accompanying photographs – please imagine a cheering, dark red paste.

Ezme is served as a starter alongside other salady nibbles to be eaten with bread in Turkey. It’s extremely spicy, and also serves as a deliciously fresh cold sauce to go with grilled meats. If you’re in Cambridge, check out the Turkish delicatessen on Mill Road for the hot paprika paste you’ll need. (Tips from readers about where other Turkish delis can be located would be very welcome – please leave a comment.)

To serve six, you’ll need:

½ lb fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 pointy green pepper (the pale sort which is good barbecued)
½ a cucumber
2 spring onions
1 small handful mint leaves
1 tablespoon hot Turkish paprika paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Peel the tomatoes and the cucumber, and remove the stalk, interior ribs and seeds of the pepper. Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and spring onions as finely as you can without reducing them to a pulp (careful pulsing in the food processor will also do the job). Stir in all the other ingredients, tasting for seasoning. Serve at room temperature.

3 Replies to “Ezme – Turkish crushed tomato and chilli salad”

  1. Wow that sounds delicious! I’m pretty sure I’ll have to make that because I’m not going to find any Turkish stores out here in the middle of nowhere Ohio!

  2. Hi! I regularly enjoy reading your blog–which is fantastic. However, my comment is about your allergic reaction. Has no doctor/allergist ever told you that such a reaction as you describe to lobster means that it is only a matter of time before you have the same problem with ALL shellfish? Your reaction was most likely to the crab you ate. Take it from someone who has been there (and to the emergency room at the hospital!).

  3. You can still get the paprika paste (biber salcasi) from tulumba dot com (apologies if url's are not allowed) I used to order paprika paste from another online source but it seems to have gone out of business. Or try a Middle Eastern grocery store if there are any nearby.

    Paprika paste is very good in chicken and beef dishes. Paprika paste, coriander chutney (about a 2:1 ratio), and olive oil make an excellent chicken marinade. Lemon juice is a good addition but it makes the chicken rubbery, better leave it for beef short ribs. I'm sure it would go with lamb also.

    It comes in sweet and hot varieties, both are good. The sweet kind is almost like tomato paste.

    It doesn't keep well in the fridge, I usually have to add salt and lemon juice to prevent a white mold growing.

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