Kumpir is the Turkish version of a baked potato. While Americans think of a baked potato as having butter, sour cream, chives and maybe even some bacon, and Brits think of a jacket potato being served with butter, cheese, beans and maybe even tuna and sweetcorn, the Turks have taken it to another level.
Kumpir is a typical street food sold mainly in Ortakoy, Istanbul. The name is said to have originated from the Croatian word “krumpir” meaning potato. While most countries serve potatoes in some form or another, I have yet to see it served in a more elaborate way than the Kumpir.
For this dish, huge potatoes are baked in the oven, split open, and the fluffy flesh is mixed with butter, salt, and a Turkish cheese similar to mozzarella. The potato is then loaded with an array of toppings that include olives, pickles, sweetcorn, Russian salad, pickled cabbage, sausage, beets, mushrooms, coleslaw and even kisir, a popular Turkish bulgur wheat salad. However, it is really up to you what to put on your potato. I made mine with my favourite toppings.
- 2 very large potatoes (best to use types good for baking, like Russet, King Edward, Maris Piper, Wilja, Ailsa and Golden Wonder or any other starch potato to get a fluffy interior.)
- 3-4 teaspoons of butter (to taste)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese (also to taste)
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped pickles
- Sliced beets
- Turkish sausage (chopped and cooked)
- Black olives
- Pickled cabbage
- Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat your oven to 200C. Wrap each potato in some foil and place on a baking sheet. If you want to eat the skin, along with the potato, make sure you have properly cleaned them and brushed them with some olive oil. This will help the skins crisp up later.
2. Bake your potatoes for about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on its size. They are ready when you can easily insert a fork or knife into them.
3. Unwrap the potatoes and put them back on the baking sheet and into the oven for about five minutes, until the skins are nice and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. This is where the olive oil comes into play if you are going to eat the skins. Otherwise, it gives you a sturdy outer layer to hold the ridiculous amount of toppings you are about to add.
4. Once they are done, place your potato in a bowl, split it in half, and use a fork or butter knife to fluff up the flesh. Be careful because the potato is hot and the steam coming out of it is even hotter.
5. Add the butter and salt and mix. Gradually add in the cheese. The key to getting a perfect Kumpir potato is adding enough cheese and mixing until the inside becomes soft and almost gummy.
6. Now for the exciting bit, add any combination of toppings you want. I listed my favourite combination, but you are free to literally put anything you feel like. Traditionally, the toppings are then given a drizzling of ketchup and mayo, but that isn’t really my thing.