Walnut and Garlic Sauce



Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

By Jason Goodwin

Published 2016

  • About

The Ottomans were very fond of trees: it is said that the custom of planting poplars along the roadside, so familiar from driving in France, was adopted from an Ottoman tradition of providing marching armies with decent shade. They loved nut trees, too, and this recipe – for which hazelnuts can substitute for walnuts – is warm, earthy and fabulously versatile. Try it on the side with fish or chicken – or let it take centre stage as a pasta sauce.


  • white bread 120 g/4 oz
  • water 80 ml/ cup
  • walnuts 150 g/5 oz
  • garlic 2 cloves, peeled
  • half balsamic and half wine
  • vinegar or lemon juice 3-4 tbsp
  • olive oil 2 tbsp
  • salt


  • Soak the bread for a minute or two in some of the water. Roughly chop the walnuts. Squeeze the soggy bread and pound it in a mortar with the garlic and walnuts to make a thick paste.
  • Add vinegar and a pinch of salt. Drizzle in the oil, pounding and stirring continuously. Use the rest of the water to thin the sauce and keep it creamy. You can also blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor instead. It makes a smoother tarator.
  • Scoop the sauce into a bowl and let the flavours develop for a couple of hours, or better still overnight. You can adjust the consistency by beating in a little more water at any time, if you like.