Garlic mushrooms in white sauce served with polenta
I adored this dish when I was little, to the point where I was eating it straight from the pan, using my finger to wipe off any leftover from the sides and licking the spoon. It takes very little time to make, so my mum used to prepare it, when we were too impatient to wait for anything else.
‘Ciulama’ is usually a white sauce – roux or béchamel, that is added to mushrooms, chicken or tripe. As with many other dishes in our cuisine, it comes from Turkey. The tripe dish is called ‘tuslama’, but in reality, it’s the same technique.
A very easy version of a ‘ciulama’ can be found around Edirne, and it is thought to have been brought by the migrants from the Balkans. I’ve found the same idea in Musa Dagdeviren’s book, ‘The Turkish Cookbook’ . This is how his version goes: you fry chicken drums in butter for a few minutes, then strain the fat. You add garlic and water, and simmer for 1 hour, lid on. You heat the reserved fat in a frying pan and add a tablespoon of flour, stirring well. Add this to the chicken dish. In Turkey, this is called Kul.
There is also a more luxurious version, where you poach the chicken with a few root vegetables and garlic. At the end, you remove the chicken and mash the vegetables, add vinegar, mustard and some of the stock – this is the ‘ciulama’ base. Then, you can return the chicken to this base and serve.
My mum version of a ‘ciulama’ was simpler and didn’t use the floury white sauce, mainly because she didn’t like to fry flour. She used to say that it was too heavy for the liver.
Here is the recipe, you’ll need to work quickly.
Ingredients: serves 2
500g mushrooms – white, sliced or/and left whole
1 onion – quartered
30g plain flour
4 medium size garlic cloves – crushed or thinly sliced
120 sour cream
1 bunch of parsley – chopped
2 tsp salt
Place the mushrooms and the onion in a soup pan and cover with water. Simmer gently until the mushrooms are starting to soften.
In the meantime, mix the flour with a little water from the pan to form a thin paste. Also, add a tablespoon of cold water to the sour cream, together with the parsley.
In a separate pan, make the polenta by bringing the water to a boil. Add the cornmeal/polenta and keep stirring on medium heat until it thickens. This takes a few minutes. Add the butter, combine well and turn the heat to the lowest setting, just to keep the polenta warm.
Now turn your attention to the mushrooms. Discard the onions and some of the water if necessary. The mushrooms only need to be submerged in water half way. Add the flour mix and the garlic, cooking on medium heat for a couple of minutes, to allow the flour to thicken. It needs to have the consistency of single cream. Take the pan off the heat and add the sour cream mixture.
Spoon out some of the polenta on to a plate and add the ‘ciulama’ on top. You can also dot a few knobs of butter on top.