Turkish Sweet Potato & Apricot Rolls Recipe

This past week I’ve had a craving for Turkish food. The interesting twist is that I’m not all that familiar with food from Turkey. In my mind, I think of it as being warm, savory and sweet, slightly spicy. I picture sticky desserts, rose water, pistachios, spicy kebabs, and yogurt sauces. Many of my uneducated perceptions are close to the mark, but as I begin to explore the food of Turkey I am finding so many new and interesting dishes.

Today, I am featuring a recipe for small fried rolls made from a mixture of pine nuts, herbs, dried apricots, red chili, sweet potato, onion, and chickpeas. The tender rolls are served with a tangy mint yogurt dipping sauce. Perfect for an appetizer or light meal, we ate these delicious rolls tonight for dinner along with a tomato salad.

I’ve been thinking about Turkish food this past week and researching the web to learn more. I wasn’t finding as much information as I’d hoped, so I ran to the bookstore to immerse myself in the 3 Turkish cookbooks carried at Barnes & Noble. One book, The Food and Cooking of Turkey stood out from the rest and provided a brief culinary history of Turkey along with information on essential ingredients and beautifully photographed recipes.

Flipping through the book, I came across many recipes that immediately intrigued me and I started quickly bending the corners of pages. I kept coming back to a particular recipe every time I picked up the book. Originally called ‘Carrot and Apricot Rolls’, the recipe noted that carrots could be substituted with sweet potato or white potatoes along with different seasonings. The rolls are native to Istanbul and Izmir and rarely found elsewhere.

Sweet Potato & Apricot Rolls
adapted from The Food and Cooking of Turkey
1 sweet potato
1 cup canned chickpeas
4 green onions
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
4 tablespoons pine nuts
1 fresh red chili
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper
1 egg
1-2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
light vegetable oil for frying

Mint Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh mint
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine yogurt sauce ingredients and place in refrigerator while you prepare the rolls.

Peel the sweet potato and slice into 1/2″ thick slices. Place into a glass bowl with 1/4″ water and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl into a microwave for 3-6 minutes or until completely tender. Remove and drain. Mash the sweet potato until smooth.

Add Chickpeas to the sweet potato mixture and mash to combine. Stir in the green onions, apricots, pine nuts, red chili, dill and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the egg and stir to combine. Add 1 cup breadcrumbs. If the mixture is still quite wet, add additional bread crumbs until it is only slightly tacky to the touch.

The mixture will make 16 rolls, each about 3″ long. I took the mixture out of the bowl and placed onto a cutting board. I flattened into a dish, then cut into eight wedges. I picked up each wedge and split into two portions. Rolling each portion between your hands, create a short log that is 3″ in length. Dust a surface with 1/2 cup flour. Roll each log gently across the flour to give a light coating.

Heat vegetable oil in a pan, one with thick sides and bottom will work best. I used about a 1/2″ of oil in the bottom of the pan. Place rolls into the hot oil and fry for about 8 minutes, turning every few minutes so they become golden brown on all sides. Remove from oil and place onto paper towel to remove excess oil.

Serve hot with the yogurt dipping sauce.

The rolls are crispy on the outside and tender inside. The flavors mix so nicely, a sweet and gentle tartness from the apricots mixed with the lemony garlic and mint yogurt sauce. The sweet potato and chickpeas worked well together and carry the flavors of basil and dill nicely. The rolls are so good and really not that hard to make. The list of ingredients is long but don’t let it intimidate you!

I plan to feature more Turkish recipes in the week ahead as I continue to explore new ingredients and techniques. What is your favorite Turkish dish or a Turkish food you’d like to try?

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  1. It sounds like you’ve been possessed by some ancient Turkish spirit, Allen!* I’ve never heard of anyone developing a craving for a cuisine they don’t know much about! :P But I have to give you prop(z) for really getting out there and teaching yourself about it. That’s the kind of food philosophy I can get behind :) I just realized I don’t know much about Turkish cuisine, either! Eep! But these do look really delicious– I can’t say no when the outer crust looks so crispy and golden.

    * Or getting cabin fever, whatever :P

  2. These look amazing! Definitely going to give them a try. I just returned from Vienna and had the most amazing Turkish kebabs there at Naschmarkt.

  3. I am thrilled to read that you are featuring Turkish food all week long. What a start! These rolls look amazing and the photos look so delicious. I must admit, I never had these, but sure will try. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

  4. Turkish food is soooo good! Unfortunately it is not widely known in the States. It is as diverse as the country itself. There are dishes prepared in one part of Turkey but are unheard of in another. Luckily I am familiar with Turkish food as we are sharing an Azerbaijan-Turkish household here:) I cook the foods of both countries on a regular basis. There are many similarities between the two cuisines (the countries are bordering each other and people share the same ethnic roots), but there are as many differences too. Glad you like the food! There are a couple of nice Turkish food bloggers out there, you can check them out too.

    My favorite Turkish food is probably tas kabab, a beef stew with meat so tender. yum!

  5. What an interesting recipe! I’ve made a few Turkish dishes in the past and have never been disappointed. I am making note of this. Will try soon.

  6. Hi Allen– I’ve had carrot and apricot fritters at Turkish restaurants here in DC and they are absolutely delicious. I think I’m going to need to ask for the Turkish cookbook you have for a holiday present this year.

  7. I just love sweet and savory dishes like this, Allen. And the mint sauce adds such a silky texture and cool sensation. This would be so much better for tonight’s dinner than soup (which is what I will actually eat). :)

  8. Hi Allen! These sound great…can you briefly list the amount of carrots and any spice changes? I don’t have any sweet potatoes here. Thanks!

  9. Hey Min – the original recipe called for 8-10 carrots in place of the sweet potato and chickpeas that I used. The recipe also stated the carrots should be steamed instead of boiled, since they would retain their flavor much better. Otherwise, I didn’t tweak the other ingredients too much – used the same spices etc.

  10. Dear all,
    I am very sorry to inform you that both recipes have nothing to do with traditional Turkish cookery! They might be products of a “creative so called chef” of some type.
    Beware of that book Allen.
    Kind regards

  11. I am afraid this recipe is not Turkish – as some others commented on earlier. I am Turkish and my family still lives in Turkey and I never even heard of such dish. Traditional Turkish dishes do not usually mix sweet and savory – like the apricot would not go into a savory dish.
    I heard the cook book called “Sultan’s Kitchen” is very popular among Turkish people living in US – the recipes work and ingredients are adapted to US labels.

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