Sunday, April 22, 2012

Circassian Chicken Salad – Cerkez Tavugu

Circassian Chicken Salad - Cerkez Tavugu
This is one of classical mezes (appetizers) of the Ottoman Cuisine. It originates from the Caucasus Mountains where the Circassians live. It is an excellent alternative to mayonnaise based chicken salads.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 slices of day-old bread, crusts removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons (2 + 2) extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • Handful of walnut halves for garnishing (optional)

In a pot combine chicken breasts with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, skim the broth to get rid of the foam that forms on top. Simmer until chicken is cooked, about 40-45 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a platter and let it cool. Continue to cook the chicken broth until it is reduced to one third. Save broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear the meat into shreds.

Cut bread slices into pieces. In a shallow bowl, pour 1 cup of water over the bread to soften it. Then squeeze dry.

In a food processor, coarsely crush 1 cup of walnuts.

In a large bowl, combine crushed walnuts, crushed garlic, softened bread, 2 table spoons of olive oil, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, red chili powder (optional). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spoon until it is well mixed into a puree. Add up to 1/2 cup more chicken broth to obtain desired consistency. Transfer into a serving dish. You can refrigerate at this stage until ready to use.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining 2 table spoons of olive oil over low heat. Add paprika, gently cook until it starts foaming, about 1 minute. Drizzle the paprika infused hot oil over the chicken salad. Garnish with walnut halves and parsley sprigs. Serve at room temperature.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Pulled chicken and crushed walnuts

Chicken, walnuts, bread mixed into a paste

Circassian Chicken Salad - Cerkez Tavugu


  1. Yasemin:

    Jewish Women International would like permission to use your photo of Circassian Chicken for our annual Rosh Hashanah fundraising project, to support our work empowering women and girls and breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Your help would be much appreciated. We are printing this project next week so please contact me ASAP if you'll allow us to use your photo. Thank you!

    Danielle Cantor
    Design & Communications Manager, JWI • 202.464.4809

  2. Of course you can use it.
    My pleasure to help empower women anywhere.
    Sorry, I did not see the comment right away.
    Best wishes,