Downtown Chapel Hill

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Business Spotlight: Talullas

Turkey is culinary home to exotic marriages of Mediterranean delicacy and Asiatic pungency.  So is Chapel Hill, thanks to Talullas ( located at 456 West Franklin Street.  Chef Aligul and his wife Donna grew up in Turkey and worked in restaurants to finance their educations.  At Talullas they offer a comprehensive menu that represents the diverse styles of Turkish regional cooking.

Eggplant creations are especially tempting.  Their creamy texture and savory tang belie the common image of eggplant as a somewhat coarse and bitter vegetable.  If you had that impression, Talullas’  eggplant dishes will come as a revelation.  Lamb is marinated and slow-cooked, exuding a delicious sauce that blends beautifully with vegetables.  Whole fish, especially sea bass and sea bream, are imported from Turkey and prepared with fine olive oil and fresh basil, earning Talullas the highest rating for seafood in Chapel Hill Magazine.  Another popular dish is lamb kebobs, served on weekends.

A signature dish not to be missed is Manti: steamed dumplings stuffed with pureed vegetables or grounds meat and served in a sauce of yogurt and garlic.  The yogurt is special.  Aligul’s training in chemistry enabled him to experiment with yogurt, reproducing the real Turkish style that you cannot otherwise obtain here.  An interesting experiment is to replicate this dish at home and then see how you think it compares to the chef’s creation when you dine at the restaurant.   Try the following recipe:

( INGREDIENTS  for 6-7 servings)

For The Dough :3-3 ½ cups flour
1 egg
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt to taste

Filling:½ lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped/shredded
½ tsp salt to taste
½ tsp black pepper

For cooking:
8 cups water
1 tsp salt

Sauce:2 cups yogurt (use Greek yogurt)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ tsp salt to taste
3-4 tbsp butter/oil (a combination is best)
1 tbsp tomato paste or 2/3 tsp paprika
2-3 tbsp water
Dried mint and Sumac (optional)

Place the flour in a large bowl, add the egg, salt, and water. Then knead until you get a firm and smooth dough, about 8-10 minutes. Make sure the dough is firm so that it flattens easily later. Cover the dough with a damp towel or cloth and let it rest for 15-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a plate mix all the filling ingredients and set aside.

To make the dumplings, divide the dough into 2-3 pieces. Place one piece on a floured counter. Cover the rest of the dough. Then with a rolling pin flatten the dough as thin as you can, to the thickness of the ridge of a knife. Then, cut it with a knife or roulette into ¾ inch squares.  Place ¼ tsp filling over each square.  Then stick both the traverse edges of the square together diagonally, pressing with your fingertips. Follow the same procedure for the remaining dough.
To cook, boil the water in a big pot and add salt. Place all the manti in the boiling water. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking.  Be sure not to close the lid. Cook over medium heat until the manti become soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce. In a bowl mix yogurt, salt and garlic. In a small pan, melt the butter/oil and stir in tomato paste and water. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat. If you prefer using paprika, just add paprika to the melted butter/oil and turn the heat off after one minute. Do not include water if using paprika rather than tomato paste.

Drain the cooked manti and transfer them onto serving plates. Let them cool, then pour the yogurt sauce over them. Finally pour about one tbsp of butter/oil mixture over them (adjust the amount to your taste). And if desired, sprinkle some dried mint and sumac over the Turkish Dumplings.

The next to last step is to enjoy your creation.  The last step is to enjoy the real thing at Talullas!

 By Guest Blogger Jarrett L.