I watch my fair share of competitive food programming—think Chopped or Top Chef—but I’ve never entered a cooking or recipe competition myself, whether to a county fair or to a magazine. I suppose I’ve never found one that I felt was capable of winning, nor have I noticed an opportunity particularly close to home.
But back in November the Department of Student Housing and Residence Life and UTM Dining challenged its residents to submit their favourite recipe from home. The selected entries were pitted against one another on the department’s Facebook page, the winner being the one that got the most likes. Recipes came from across the globe, and included borscht, oxtail rice, and peas and peach pfannkuchen. In the end, it was fourth-year economics student Ayesha Nadeem’s pogaca that took the win with 113 votes.
“Having lived my entire life in a multicultural community back in Saudi Arabia, I was introduced to pogaca and absolutely loved its taste, pattern, and texture,” she says. “The reason I submitted it was to participate for the first time in a residence-based competition and I knew this would be an interesting one to submit, which was evidently well received thanks to the 100+ Facebook likes it generated.”
On that note, afiyet olsun, and enjoy the pogaca’s cheesy goodness.
Pogaca (Turkish Cheese Pastry)
- 1 sachet dry yeast
- 3¼ cup all-purpose plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup mild olive oil or sunflower oil
- ½ cup warm milk
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- sesame seeds and nigella seeds
- Set oven to 350 F. Grease baking tray.
- Combine milk and yeast in small bowl; mix well. Let stand 5 minutes, till foamy.
- In a large bowl, stir in the flour and salt and make a well in the middle. Add yoghurt, oil, and egg to the middle of the mixture. Stir in the yeast mixture and knead well with your hands for a few minutes until the dough comes together.
- Shape the dough into a ball, place it in the large bowl, and cover it with cling film. Let it rise in a warm place for 45–60 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the feta cheese and parsley.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 11 or 12 equal pieces, each about the size of a tangerine. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a circle with your fingertips, about 10 cm in diameter.
- Place a spoonful of the filling at one side of the circle, leaving space near the edges. Fold the circle over to cover the filling and form a half-moon shape. Press down with your fingertips to seal the dough closed.
- Place the stuffed dough on the greased tray. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with the rest of the dough pieces.
- Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the seeds. Bake on the middle rack until golden brown.