I just realised that I have presented more than a whole year of weekly posts. I haven’t posted every week, having taken time off to supposedly move countries, and recently to make changes to the blog, but to date I have written a respectable 55 posts for Curious Foodies. Happy days.
Curious Foodies has a new partner called Curious Recipes. At the bottom of this, and hopefully future, posts there will be a link that will take you to the Weekly Recipe. You can always get back to here (Curious Foodies) by clicking the link at the bottom of the recipe.
But to return to this week’s blog. In theory, having written 55 posts means that I have been twice round the alphabet. But life, and posts, are not so tidy and so it is by complete happenstance that I find myself back at the letter ‘A’. ‘A’ is for… well, all sorts of things, one of which, of course, is ‘A’ for Achma, everyone knows that. Well, I didn’t, but as I was reading about Mediterranean pastries, Achma leapt out at me.
It leapt out at me because my friend, Matt, who has Turkish roots, makes Achma to sell in his and his brother, Taner’s, restaurant, Platter here in Devonport.
Turkish Achma is not to be confused with the Georgian Achma. Georgian Achma is more akin to a dry cheese lasagne, where the crisp top crust contrasts with the tender cheesy layers, according to Florian from Food Perestroika. Confusingly, Georgian Achma has a Turkish equivalent in Su Böreği .
The Daily Sabah tells us that Su Böreği is in a league of its own because of its variability and widespread availability. Traditionally layered with a mixture of feta cheese, parsley and ample butter, it can also become a celebration dish by the addition of different vegetables, such as butternut squash. Su Böreği is served in lasagne-style slices. Both Georgian Achma and Turkish Su Böreği have a similar preparation in that thin sheets of hand-rolled dough are boiled before being baked.
Turkish Achma, though, are quite, quite different.
Here, Achma are like soft bagels. Ozlem Warren says that Turkish style soft bagels have always been a Turkish breakfast treat and a delicious snack to enjoy with cup of tea, Turkish cay, all day long. Achma, sliced in half, and buttered can have jam or honey added. They can also be accompanied with cheese, boiled egg, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
Looking at the method used to create the Turkish bagel (Achma), I am struck by the similarity to the preparation of another Turkish delicacy, Simit.
Again, it is a breakfast pastry which begins with a yeast dough and ‘each dough ball is rolled between your palms to make it about 16 cm / 6 inches long. It is then swirled and rolled and the two ends are sealed together’. However, where Achma is then egg washed, sprinkled with sesame seeds and then baked, Simit benefits from a wash of water, egg and honey, making it a sweeter type of breakfast pastry.
On the whole Achma is a kind of generic looking bun. It’s a fluffy, soft, plain dough that can, says Erica Kwee, of the Houston Press, be made either savoury or sweet (with, perhaps, Nutella). However, my friend Matt says real Achma is never sweet, but always savoury.
Matt’s Achma, he says, is a New Zealand take on the traditional Turkish Achma. It is made with a yeast dough more akin to a pizza dough and treated the same way by being rolled thinly. But then an olive tapenade, sun-dried tomato and feta cheese are added to what becomes this crispy, soft, savoury filled pastry called Achma. It is so comforting, exciting, and so so moreish that I have to ration myself to only….. well you don’t need to know that. But, I think I could say that, given the opportunity, I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for at least a week.
I would love to share Matt’s recipe with you but I think it should remain a secret. Instead, here is a recipe for Achma: Georgian style