Almost Turkish Recipes

Sunchokes with Orange Juice (Portakal Sulu Zeytinyağlı Yerelması)

This weird looking vegetable is north American; it's in the sunflower family. It was called "sun roots" by Native Americans, but for some unknown reason was named "Jerusalem artichoke" by a French man sometime around 1600s. It's nothing like an artichoke and it is not from or related to Jerusalem. In Turkish, we call it yerelması, which literally means "earth apple"; the same term that French use for potato, pomme de terre. In Italian, I learned, it is called girasole articiocco, sunflower artichoke, which through mispronunciation ended up as "sunchoke" in English.

As I said before, it tastes nothing like artichokes. I might say something between apples and potatoes with a slight touch of celery root; its taste is as complicated as its etymological history. Sunchoke cooked with olive oil and served cold is a specialty of the cuisine of the Turkish Aegean coast. I don't want to start listing all the health benefits of sunchoke; just know that it's really good for you in many ways.

Although this is a traditional Turkish recipe, I twisted it a little by adding orange juice. To make it "really Turkish" instead of "almost Turkish" just replace orange juice with water.

1 lb sunchokes, peeled and cut into strips
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 medium potatoes, cut into strips
2 medium carrots, cut into jullien strips
2 tbsp rice
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup juice of an orange
1 tsp sugar
1/4 bunch dill, chopped

-Fill a bowl with water and squeeze half of a lemon. Put sunchokes and potatoes in water after chopping. Lemon juice will prevent darkening.
-In a broad pot, heat the oil. Stir onion and garlic until cooked.
-Add in first carrots, then potatoes, and last sunchokes. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring gently.
-Pour in orange juice, sugar, and salt.
-When it starts boiling, add rice.
-Cover and cook on low-medium until rice and vegetables are cooked--approximately 30 minutes.
-Let it cool down with the lid on.
-Sprinkle dill on top before you serve. You can also sprinkle orange zest.

This is a Turkish olive oil recipe which means it should be served cold. Try and you'll see; it's tastier when it's cold.


  1. Anonymous12:17 PM

    Thanks for your entry. I have the first time sunchokes or as I would say tompinambour in my garden. I wouldn't have thought that sunchokes are typical for the turkish cuisine. Unfortunately most Germans think Turkish cooking is only "Döner Kebap".

  2. This is something I've been wanting to taste for a long time. I don't think I've ever seen them for sale anywhere here, but maybe I am not looking that hard. I like the sound of it a lot.

  3. Ulrike: I'm surprised to hear that you use a French term for it. You're right to think that sunchoke is not typical for the Turkish cuisine. I don't know if it's cooked in eastern Turkey, but it's very common throughout the western parts. It's very unfortunate that Turkish cuisine is sometimes reduced to Doner Kebap, yet I'd love to have some right now. I heard it's pretty common in Germany.

    Kalyn: I think you'll like it. I usually find it at chain grocery stores which have nicer and organic produce section. In Turkey we used to buy them in fall and winter, but here it seems to be on the shelf all year around. Don't buy wrinkly ones, prefer firm ones; they tend to get bitter if they are left out for long.

  4. This may be the recipe that finally makes me try to cook sunchokes: I like all the ingredients.

  5. In Australia, yerelmasi is sold as Jerusalem artichokes. I've heard that these artichokes have got nothing to do with Jerusalem, so not sure of its origins. I love eating these artichokes raw (simply peel and slice and eat). I've never tried this dish with orange juice, thanks Burcu.

  6. Anonymous10:28 AM

    Hi, I like your blog. Actually, the reason these are called Jerusalem artichokes by "some Frenchman" is not "unknown." The French word for sunflower is girasole, meaning "turning toward the sun." Girasole sounds like Jerusalem. Sunchokes are the root of a species of sunflower. The taste has often been thought to be reminiscent of an artichoke (a stretch, but I can taste it somewhat).

    Hope this helps. Check out my blog:

  7. In Estonian they're called "earth pears" (maapirn) :) I got a big bag of Jerusalem artichokes from my mum today, so need to choose some recipes to test..

  8. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Regarding the name "Jerusalem artichokes": In addition to the explanation offered above, that the term is derived from the French word "girasole" for "sunflower". But I was struck in this interesting article, that the Turkish term for this delicious vegetable is "yerelması" (literally "earth apple"). To my ear, this sounds very similar to "Jerusalem" (Yerushalim, Ursalim"). I had no idea that this vegetable, native to North America, had made it to Turkey! The Ottoman Empire was expansive and certainly influential. The Turkish influence certainly makes sense!

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