18 May 2009

Stinging Nettle Purée: A Cure to Every Problem

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One of the main dishes of the Black Sea Region is Stinging Nettle Purée. The folk back there call it “sirgan” (a kind of shortened version for isirgan in Turkish). The little needles in the leaves are very stingy. Mothers in the Black Sea Region use this health-giving plant as a tool to disciple their children, they yell at their kids saying “I will spank your bottom with nettles if you don’t behave!”. This plant with its benefits for many kinds of diseases such as cancer, rheumatism and even baldness is newly getting the credit it deserves.

I’m here now, ready to prepare this dish that I know from childhood for you to try and taste.


  • The main ingredients of this dish are stinging nettle, corn flour and garlic. You can add any of the rest according to your own preferences.
  • 1 kg. stinging nettle
  • 2 tablespoons full of corn flour
  • 4 pieces of middle size garlic
  • 1.5 lt. water (7.5 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons full of whole wheat flour (up to you)
  • 1 middle size onion (up to you)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (up to you)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to you)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mint (up to you)
  • Plastic gloves (surgical type) you don’t have to use them, but it will sting I assure you!


  1. Put your gloves on and with the help of a knife separate the leaves of the nettle from the stems on a cutting board. Don’t throw the stems away, you can still use them.
  2. Gently wash the leaves without squashing and put them in a large pot of 1.5 lt. boiling water. You can also add the stems by tying them up either with one of the stems if you can or with some dyless cotton string (shouldn’t be coloured with dye, we don’t want any chemicals in our food)
  3. Cook for 15 minutes and stir a few times.
  4. Take out the stems and mash the leaves with the help of a blender. Old fold used to do this process but squashing the leaves through a sieve.
  5. Add the corn flour and then the whole wheat flour with the help of a sieve and stir so that it doesn’t get lumpy. Some type of nettle leave more water when cooked, you can increase the amount of flour to get the desired thickness of the Purée.
  6. Slice the garlic pieces into 4 and add to the pot and cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Now your dish is ready. You can make a sauce of your desire with the rest of the ingredients. In a sauce pan add the onions to the olive oil and stir for a minute. Then add the red pepper and mint and it’s ready. Pour the sauce onto the nettle purée you have already put into a service plate. Finally it’s time to eat.

How to Eat
  • Of course with a spoon or by dunking cornbread into it.
  • Red onions go well with this dish.
  • Eat carefully and don’t spill on your shirt. It’s impossible to get rid of the stain. My favorite shirt is now serving as a dustrag.

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