This happened at Orkide Ibrahimli, a restaurant in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey. The fries appeared there at a brunch for journalists attending Gaziantep's first bulgur festival.
The plate was simple, fries topped with vibrantly red tomato sauce and garnished with mild peppers. It intrigued me to the extent that I recreated it at home, making up my own tomato sauce. See the recipe below.
A waiter came by to sprinkle on pistachios and honey (above). Sugar added even more sweetness. (A plate of the fries with tomato sauce is in the photo too.)
You can tell that I love sweets, but there was plenty of savory food too, including skillets of soft-fried eggs (above), skewers of grilled vegetables and sucuk (sausage), eggplant, stuffed breads and more.
(For a full description of the brunch and mouth-watering photos, check Faye and Yakir Levy's article at this link.)
FRENCH FRIES WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
Based on the dish served at Orkide Ibrahimli in Gaziantep
3/4 pound tomatoes, peeled
1/4 cup chopped shallots or onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon bottled red pepper paste
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash Aleppo pepper or other hot pepper
French fries, frozen or homemade
Sliced fried or sauteed green chiles
To make the tomato sauce, puree the tomatoes, shallots and garlic in a food processor or blender.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper paste, then the pureed tomato mixture and water. Add paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Add enough Aleppo pepper or other hot pepper to make as spicy as you like.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Serve over hot French fries. Garnish with chile slices.
Makes about 1 cup tomato sauce, equivalent to an 8-ounce can.
Note: Aleppo pepper and jars of tomato and red pepper pastes from Turkey are in markets that stock Middle Eastern ingredients.
Thanks to Mustafa Özgüler, chef/owner of the restaurant, for this sumptuous morning meal.
Photos by Barbara Hansen