Ezme (Turkish Roasted Tomato Relish)

Source: Joyce Goldstein, Author and Chef

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on July 18, 2015.

I first tasted this wonderful tart and spicy tomato relish at a small restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul. The restaurant specialized in the regional food of Gazantiep (near the Syrian border) and ezme was part of an extensive meze course. It was served with puffed puri-like flatbread and as a condiment for lamb sausage. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, use vinegar or lemon juice for tartness and a pinch of sugar for balance. If you can’t find poblano chiles, use long green Anaheims but increase the amount of ground hot pepper. I can’t think of a more interesting alternative to ketchup.

Makes about 1½ cups


1 pound ripe tomatoes (about 3 to 4)
1 large or 2 small fresh poblano chiles
Olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 finely chopped green onions or 4 tablespoons grated raw onion
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper, or Marash pepper,  or to taste
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon sumac, optional
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup, or more to taste (or substitute lemon juice to taste, with a drop of honey)
About ½ cup very coarsely chopped Italian parsley


Roast the tomatoes on a griddle or in a cast iron frying pan or medium-high heat until the skins are cracked and charred.

Roast the poblano chile on the griddle or over direct flame until the skin is completely charred. Place the pepper in a paper bag or small plastic container and let it steam for 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and finely chop the chile.

Peel and core the tomatoes and squeeze out most of the seeds. Chop the tomatoes coarsely. If they are very watery, place in a strainer and drain. Alternatively, you can place the chopped tomatoes in a medium sauté pan with a little olive oil and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes to reduce the liquid.

Add the garlic, onion, dried chile pepper, paprika, the sumac (if using), and the chopped poblano. Season with the pomegranate syrup and salt, to taste. Place in a shallow bowl or saucer and top with the chopped parsley. Serve with pita bread or as a condiment for lamb, chicken or fish.

Farmers Market Ingredients