What is Piyaz?
Piyaz is one of the main meze dishes in Turkey. It’s made with white beans, onions spices and herbs.
It is a prominent meal across many countries, with each one adapting the elements to suit their own palates.
Piyaz became one of Turkey’s staple sources of nutrition amid the latter part of the 1800s, and still remains a highly favorable choice in today’s cooking.
Where does piyaz get its name?
The word piyaz (pronounced pee-haz) comes from Turkey, and it means white bean salad. Piyaz also means onion in Persian. Around a third of the Turkish language spoken today is derived from the Persian (Farsi) language.
What is the origin of piyaz?
By the mid-1400s, Turkish cuisine had built a reputation for itself, and was very well established. This point in time also saw the rise of the Ottoman Empire and its 600 year reign.
Piyaz dates back to the Ottoman Empire, which spanned from Austria to North Africa. It was originally prepared with slightly different ingredients, which included potato, peas, artichoke and chickpeas. These ingredients were first introduced to Turkey during the last quarter of the 19th century.
The recipe for piyaz varies in different regions of the country. In the Antalya province it is prepared with sesame oil, and it is not considered a side dish, but a main meal. In southern parts of Turkey, such as Adana, they refer to piyaz as an onion and sumac salad. It is usually paired with an Adana kebab.
Piyaz in other parts of the world
Across the Mediterranean and the Middle East, piyaz is very popular as either part of meze or a main meal.
The recipe varies from country to country but the core of it remains the same, the beans. However, some countries add other ingredients. In Greece, for example, some of the versions include using tuna. This dish is known as fassolia piaz.
In Cyprus, tuna isn’t added but they also don’t use onion or spices. Their take on piyaz is called fasulye piyaz. Syria is the same as Cyprus in the sense that onions are not used in their technique but tahini is added to give the sauce a creamier texture. The fava beans used in their piyaz are also their choice of pulse for ful medames.
Why are beans so popular in Turkish Cuisine?
Beans are a key ingredient in Turkey across a vast array of recipes. Their versatility allows them to be eaten both hot and cold. They are the perfect base for warm hearty stews as well as cold salads.
Traditional Turkish cuisine has survived and flourished for over 1,300 years. Today there are hundreds of Turkish bean recipes, which include soups, dolmas and dips. Beans aren’t just used in savory food, they also make tasty desserts, such as ashure.
Due to Turkey’s location and positioning between the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, the Turks were easily able to take control of major trade routes, which allowed new foods and ingredients to be introduced into Turkey. Coupled with the Mediterranean climate, it was easy to grow and harvest these ingredients, along with other beans, pulses and vegetables.
How to make piyaz
Piyaz is a cold bean salad that’s best served fresh. It is a great companion for fish, chicken or meat but it is most popularly served with Turkish meatballs called köfte.
The acidity of the onions aids digestion while the density of the beans leaves feeling full without feeling bloated.
The key to creating a piyaz masterpiece is the beans. The quality of the beans is essential to making the perfect piyaz. The beans should be intact, not crushed, and be tender in texture. When using dried beans, they must be soaked for the correct amount of time, and cooked low and slow until tender.
A helpful little tip is to use the fingers to lightly mix the salad together. When using spoons, wooden salad spoons are best. A salad fork or metal spoon may pierce the beans.
The crisp, fresh flavors of piyaz with the mouthwatering soft beans and silky sauce, make this a refreshing side dish alongside grilled meats.
- 1 lb canned white beans (drained net weight)
- 4 tomatoes , peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 small bunch flat parsley , chopped
- 3 scallions , cut into thin strips
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red hot peppers (pul biber)
- ½ teaspoon sumac
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- Black olives
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 lemon , freshly squeezed
- Mix all the ingredients.
- Rinse the white beans and drain them well.
- In a large bowl, place the white beans, tomatoes, onions, and half the parsley.
- Add paprika, chili, and sumac.
- Add the sauce and mix well.
- Cut the boiled eggs in half or in slices and place them on top.
- Garnish with black olives and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
- Serve fresh.