A sort of corn bread stuffed with leeks

When we were in Istanbul a couple of months ago, I realized something: One thing that has changed over the years in Istanbul is that now we have a mall culture! We have so many expensive malls all around the city that I have no idea how people afford to shop or keep those shops open! I am not sure to what or whom I owe my thanks… globalization? or a new group of people (can we call them new money?) which likes to show off by shopping at these places and being pretentious? Probably a combination of both. I might sound a tad bitter and disapproving but I really don’t like it when I see this new group of people (could be young or old) who are all about brand names from head to toe.

Now, one place this group of people likes to shop is the Kanyon Mall that was built in 2006, within 15 minutes walking distance from my family’s house in Istanbul. The mall has a different architecture – open interior which can cause you to freeze during winter! It boasts of not having any reasonable priced stores, as far as I can tell (except the two bookstores it has). The mall won 2006 Cityscape Architectural Review Award… though my architect friend told me it’s an exact copy of a mall in Singapore. Maybe it’s due to the lack of a single artsy bone in my body, but I really don’t care for the “dramatic” winding effect of the interior.

So, now that you know how much I do not like this mall,  how is this mall related to the recipe? It has a huge bookstore that I do like, and due to the lack of time and the convenience of the location, I met with some friends there one afternoon. Probably that bookstore is the only place I can shop in that mall and feel comfortable. There is something calming about being surrounded by books… lots of books…

In the bookstore I found a 2-volume of extensive collection of  Turkish regional recipes that was put together by one of the important names in the Turkish food scenery, Tugrul Savkay. I thumbed through the pages and decided that the cookbook was coming with us to the U.S. even though it weighed 5 lbs, taking up my 1/10th of my allowed luggage weight limit.

I’ve made a couple recipes from the book by now, and they turned out great so I decided to give this cornbread recipe with leeks a try. I baked it in a 9 by 13 pan but I think next time I will use a size smaller, 7 by 11 pan or a 10-inch springform pan. The cornbread batter was thin for my taste in that 9 by 13 pan. And I blame the recipe since it did not give the size of the pan, just said “bake it in an oven proof pan…”

Next time, I will try different dark greens instead of leeks. I think there is a great potential here with spinach, collard greens, and swiss chard. Here is the recipe:

Leek Stuffed Cornbread

  • 4-5 stalks of leeks (approximately 2 lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 375 ml (apprx 1.5 cups) of plain yogurt (set aside 3 tablespoon from this amount for the brushing the top)
  • 225 ml (apprx 1 cup) of vegetable oil (set aside 3 tablespoon from this amount for the brushing the top)
  • 375 gr (apprx 3 cups) of corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 ml (approximately 1/2 cup) of lukewarm water
  • 1 egg

1. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and slice them 1/4-inch thick. Soak them in a bowl of water for 5 minutes. I found it easier to clean if I do this first. Since the sand/grit is heavy, eventually they collect on the bottom of the bowl, and you can collect and transfer the floating leeks into a colander to give them a good wash.

2. Add salt, pepper, paprika and red pepper into the leeks and give the veggies a good rub with your hands for a minute or two.

3. Mix yogurt, oil, cornmeal, baking powder and water until it combines.

4. Grease the baking pan and spread half of the batter. Distribute the chopped leeks evenly over the batter, then spread the remaining batter on top.

5. Mix 3 tablespoon yogurt, oil and egg together, then brush it on the cornbread batter.

6. Bake in a preheated 355-degree oven for 40-50 min or until it is golden brown.


  1. by Gokce
    2:42 pm
    Feb 6, 2011

    Typical Turkish recipe! Never give exact size or amount, but like dough should have the “softness of your earlobe” ;-)

  2. by Ilke
    2:48 pm
    Feb 6, 2011

    Yes, those vague descriptions are killing me when I am trying to cook something. The recipes from my mom’s collection are worse: “And then bake it”! In what, what temperature?, how long?

  3. by Kristin @ delishliving
    10:11 pm
    Feb 6, 2011

    that’s too funny that the recipe is not super specific, the way we like it here… but once you figure it out, it usually makes for the best cooking. i’m like you in that i could meander through a good bookstore for hours… love it. the mall, i have to say, is really quite beautiful!

  4. by Ilke
    10:27 pm
    Feb 6, 2011

    Yes, it is frustrating first but then is funny, there is nothing I can do but shake my head and go with it! I guess when I do not need the recipes, that means I have mastered this cooking with intuition thing! :)

  5. by Rich
    11:08 pm
    Feb 7, 2011

    Ilke, I think you’re right – this sounds great with some spinach or chard – though leeks seem pretty good, too! It seems like the book was worth the extra five pounds!

  6. by Citra
    4:09 pm
    Feb 8, 2011

    Thx for sharing this Ilke… love it. And I’d like to passing an award for U, check at:
    Hope U’ll like it

  7. by Ilke
    5:00 pm
    Feb 8, 2011

    Thanks a lot Citra, brightened my day :)

  8. by Monet
    1:24 am
    Feb 9, 2011

    I am not a fan of the malls here in America…but I am a fan of cornbread. This recipe looks DIVINE! Thanks for always making me smile with your words, photos and recipes. I hope that your Wednesday is full of joy!

  9. by Kristi Rimkus
    10:00 am
    Feb 9, 2011

    What a colorful corn bread. Terrific idea! I love the mild taste of leeks in all kinds of dishes.


  10. by All That I'm Eating
    2:58 pm
    Feb 10, 2011

    I’ve planted some leeks recently so when they’re ready I’ll have to remember this, it looks great!

  11. by Peggy
    9:29 am
    Feb 11, 2011

    I can’t remember the last time I actually stepped foot in a shopping mall! We have so many local boutiques around here that I just love supporting local businesses instead of those corporate buffoons anyway! Hehe… this dish looks great! I love anything with cornbread and veggies!

    And thanks for the kind comments on my blog! I’m so glad your friends like my recipes! =)

  12. by Roxan
    12:42 pm
    Feb 11, 2011

    How awesome, Turkey is at the top of my list of places I’d like to visit next! I’d really like to do a turkey/morocco trip. Maybe to prep for it I should start with trying out the food. Can I get the name of the cookbook you mentioned?


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