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Turkish Drinks

Comforting Sahlep Drink with Cinnamon and Pistachio Nuts

 

Sahlep drink with cinnamon and ground pistachios.

Sahlep drink with cinnamon and ground pistachios.

Sahlep is a deliciously comforting hot milky drink, very popular in Turkey during the winter months. The genuine sahlep flour is made from the tubers of the orchid genius Orchis, found in the province of Kahramanmaraş in the south of Turkey, as well as in the Black Sea provinces especially in Kastamonu. The pure sahlep powder is very expensive and as this very precious wild orchid is in decline, the exportation of the genuine sahlep has been banned. The sahlep powder also has a lot of health benefits such as  curing digestive problems and gum disease as well as increasing resistance against coughs and colds.

I love the comforting, delicious taste of Sahlep in winter months. It’s great if you can enjoy the genuine sahlep in Turkey (I love it at the wonderful Sutis Pastaneleri –patisserie- in Istanbul or at Yavuz Bey Kurukahveci in Kadikoy, Istanbul as dear fellow blogger Claudia from A Seasonal Cook in Turkey experienced). Even if you may not be able to get genuine article if you’re living abroad like I do, some of the good quality sahlep flavored sachets sold abroad is still quite satisfactory and for me provide a great a dose of home & comfort. You can get a good quality sahlep flavored powder in sachets at Turkish and Middle Eastern Markets (like the Turkish market in North Cheam, England), as well as at Turkish online stores like Best Turkish Food.

Turkish sahlep drink with cinnamon

Turkish sahlep drink with cinnamon

Sahlep also used to be a popular street food in Turkey, though I don’t see them around as much as I used to. Here is a video of a Sahlep street stall holder in Turkey, kindly shared by Jim Clayter.

Here comes an easy recipe for the delicious Sahlep drink; we like to serve with some ground cinnamon over the top traditionally. This time, I also added some ground pistachio nuts over before serving, it added a lovely texture & taste to my Sahlep.

I hope you enjoy the new, improved look of Ozlem’s Turkish Table; you can now view my blog fully on smart phones and tablets. I am also delighted to add a new recipe format, that I hope will allow you to print the recipes easily and that it would add to your enjoyment – Afiyet Olsun!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Comforting Sahlep Drink with Cinnamon and Pistachio Nuts
 
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Drinks
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 16 fl. oz./ 2 cups of cold whole milk
  • 10ml/ 1 tbsp. Sahlep powder
  • Sugar to your taste
  • 5ml / 1 tsp. ground cinnamon for garnish
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp. ground pistachios for garnish – optional
Instructions
  1. Place the cold milk, sahlep powder and sugar in a small pan and bring to a gentle boil.
  2. Stir continuously for 2-3 over gentle heat, until it starts to thicken.
  3. Turn the heat off and pour the hot drink into two cups.
  4. Sprinkle the ground cinnamon and crushed pistachios (if using) over the top and serve immediately.

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Turkish Coffee,Turk Kahvesi – More Than a Drink

Enjoying a delicious sip of Turkish Coffee at the Archeological Museum, Istanbul

Enjoying a delicious sip of Turkish Coffee at the Archeological Museum, Istanbul

Have you ever tried the deliciously frothy Turkish coffee? It is one of the most popular traditional drinks at home in Turkey and I love the whole ritual, the experience of it. In Turkish, we have a saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which means “The memory of a good cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years. Turkish coffee is a drink of friendship; you are offered this traditional, aromatic drink wherever you go in Turkey; when visiting friends and family, in the shops, while waiting in the bank, in hairdressers.. We take time to pause and enjoy this special drink with a friend or family or sometimes simply reflect with every precious sip. A glass of water and Turkish Delights by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual.

Deliciously frothy Turkish Coffee; Turk Kahvesi

Deliciously frothy Turkish Coffee; Turk Kahvesi

Turkish coffee is made from 100 % Arabica beans that have to be toasted to the point and ground to a very fine powder. When properly made, a delicious foam forms at the top, which is essential to any Turkish coffee. My mother loves her daily Turkish coffee but needs to limit with one a day. If she is ordering in a Café, she charmingly asks the waiter for a “guzel kopuklu kahve lutfen” which means  “Turkish coffee with a nice foam at the top please”; that is her treat for the day and she thoroughly enjoys that one cup with a smile on her face.

Turkish coffee ritual; a glass of water and Turkish delights accompanies Turk Kahvesi

Turkish coffee ritual; a glass of water and Turkish delights accompany Turk Kahvesi

Although Turkish coffee was first cultivated at the southern edge of the Arab peninsula, it was via the Ottoman Empire that the fame of coffee spread to Europe. Within just a few years of its introduction to Europe, hundreds of coffee houses sprung up in Istanbul alone, and coffee drinking became such an important part of daily and ceremonial life that the Sultan’s coffee set was carried during royal processions; every wealthy household had a servant whose sole task was to prepare coffee and under the laws the failure of a husband to provide his wife with coffee was grounds for divorce (so they say)!

Reading the Turkish coffee cup; a childhood past time

Reading the Turkish coffee cup; an innocent childhood  fun

When I was a little child, my mother used to make us very milky Turkish coffee – so we could join in the ritual with them :). And just for the fun of it, once in a while we used to turn our coffee cup upside down to its saucer after finishing, in search of our fortune. My mother would always see the happiest things inside the cup; if there is “a bird” in the cup, that is good news, if there are “narrow lines”, there is a travel on the horizon; if there are “horses” in the cup, that is good fortune. Nothing ever bad appeared in our cups and we loved listening to mum and this innocent fun with giggles.

When we stopped for a break while visiting Ephesus last April, I reminisced this childhood memory and I ordered my Turkish coffee. After drinking, I turned my coffee cup upside down to its saucer, eager to see what waits for me. And to my surprise, I did spot a horse in the cup (can you see it?), with a smile on my face. I am now looking forward to this fortune!:)

Though not the traditional way, a little hot milk may also be added to Turkish coffee in some parts of Turkey; like Turkey’s For Life experienced in Van; you may enjoy this version if you like it less strong. Please also check out A Seasonal Cook in Turkey for delicious Turkish coffee experiences in Istanbul.

A very aromatic Menengic Coffee

A very aromatic Menengic Coffee

How about Menengic Coffee? This aromatic Southern Turkish Specialty features Menengic, known commonly as terebinth and turpentine tree, is a species of Pistacia, and wildly grown in Southern Turkey, part of the national flora. Cooked with milk, you can certainly get the wonderful pistachio taste, a unique experience.

How to Make Turkish Coffee

Here is how to make proper Turkish coffee; I hope you can get to try this special drink sometime, if not already;  Turkish coffee really is more than a drink for us.

Cezve; long handled pot is an essential equipment to make Turkish coffee.

Cezve; long handled pot is an essential equipment to make Turkish coffee.

To make Turkish coffee, you need the right equipment: a special long handled pot called “cezve” and small coffee cups called “fincan”. The size of the pot is significant. It must hold almost double the amount of the water used to have adequate “room” on the top for the foam to rise.

Turkish coffee set; all ingredients that you need!

Turkish coffee set; all ingredients that you need!

There are different sizes of “cezve”, the long handled pot, depending on the number of persons for whom you wish to make Turkish coffee. A well-made coffee must have froth on the top and you cannot have a good result if you prepare the coffee for 2 persons on a pot for 4.

Stir in s heaped teaspoon of Turkish coffee to the pot.

Stir in a heaped teaspoon of Turkish coffee to the pot.

Into your “cezve”, put one coffee cup of water for each person, 1 heaped teaspoon of coffee and 1 rounded teaspoon or less of sugar. Traditionally, the amount of sugar should be known beforehand, i.e. “az sekerli” (with little sugar), “orta sekerli” (medium), or “sekersiz” (with no sugar). Skip the sugar if preferred. Stir well, put over very low heat and bring slowly to boil.

As the froth forms on top, remove and divide the froth into the cups.

As the froth forms on top, remove and divide the froth into the cups.

As it gently start to boil, the froth forms on top and rise. Just before it overflows, remove and divide the froth into the cups. Then bring to boil again and divide the rest out to the cups. Your Turkish coffee is ready.

Deliciously frothy Turkish Coffee; Turk Kahvesi, afiyet olsun!

Deliciously frothy Turkish Coffee; Turk Kahvesi, afiyet olsun!

Turkish Delight, lokum traditionally accompanies the Turkish coffee and it is a perfect fit. You can also make your own Turkish Delight if you like, here is my Turkish Delight recipe.

Afiyet Olsun; I hope you enjoy your Turkish coffee,

Ozlem

 

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Pomegranate juice, the frothiest of Ayran (Turkish yoghurt drink), Meatballs with potatoes and peppers and More – Fascinating Pergamum and Its Culinary Delights

Always have time to stop; ispanakli borek- spinach pastry and simit with cheese, of course with cay

” Always have time to stop; ispanakli borek- spinach pastry and simit with cheese, of course with cay at a motorway cafe neat Pergamum, Turkey

“Time to stop for cay – Turkish tea- and refreshments!”, announced our tour guide on our way to the ancient Pergamum or Pergamon, near by the city of  Bergama in Turkey. As much as I looked forward to going back to Pergamum, this  announcement was music to our ears, as every stop we had in Turkey produced delicious treats. We stopped at a modest local cafe by the side of the motorway and indulged in these freshly baked simits, pastries filled with spinach and cheese; we divided the pastries between us happily and washed down with a glass of cay. Each stop has been full of delicious gastronomic experiences during our tour and the journey to Pergamum  was no exception, providing a lot of culinary delights.

Freshly squeezed nar suyu, pomegranate juice - delicious and packed with goodness.

Freshly squeezed nar suyu, pomegranate juice – delicious and packed with goodness.

Have you ever had freshly squeezed pomegranate juice? Right by the entrance of Pergamum, lined delicious food and drink stalls, and we shared a glass – so refreshing and punchy, packed with goodness and flavour.

Bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, olive oil and vegetables - Kisir

Bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, olive oil and vegetables – Kisir

Pomegranates feature often in Turkish cuisine. We use the thick & delicious pomegranate molasses sauce in Bulgur wheat salad, Kisir, a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. Kisir is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep.  It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber – and pomegranate sauce, full of antioxidants. This delicious vegetarian salad tastes even better the next day!

Turkish ice cream - kaymakli dondurma, a specialty from Maras region in Southeast

Turkish ice cream – kaymakli dondurma, a specialty from Maras region in Southeast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the folks couldn’t resist the wonderfully thick Turkish ice cream, “Maras Dondurmasi”. As the name says, it is a specialty from the Maras region in Southeast Turkey; very tasty and thick that you can actually slice with a knife and eat with your fork.

Delicious spread at Altin Kepce, Bergama

Delicious spread at Altin Kepce, Bergama

 

 

But above all, it was our lunch stop at the local eatery, Altin Kepce (translated as “Golden Ladle” in English) in Bergama that stole our hearts. A small, family owned restaurant tucked in at the side road, where locals, traders, villagers congregate for lunch; it is buzzing and their freshly prepared, generous food ever delicious. Some enjoyed the Kuru Fasulye- Turkish dried beans casserole with vegetables, and some tried the Zeytinyagli Patlican – Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables or their famous koftes, meatballs.

Meatballs with peppers and potatoes, eggplants cooked in olive oil and the ayran (Turkish yoghurt drink) - a delicous feast.

Meatballs with peppers and potatoes, eggplants cooked in olive oil and the ayran (Turkish yoghurt drink) – a delicous feast.

I opted for a mixed plate of eggplants cooked in olive oil and the Turkish meatballs with potatoes and peppers, it was a delicious feast with the frothiest of Ayran, Turkish yoghurt drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is my recipe for the popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!) that can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain white rice or a slice of crusty bread. This is Izmir Kofte my way, as I like to add some more vegetables. You can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

 

Casserole of meatballs, potatoes, peppers in tomato sauce - Izmir Kofte, my way

Casserole of meatballs, potatoes, peppers in tomato sauce – Izmir Kofte, my way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Ayran – A refreshing tradional yoghurt drink

The frothiest, refreshing Ayran, Turkish yoghurt drink at Altin Kepce, Bergama.

The frothiest, refreshing Ayran, Turkish yoghurt drink at Altin Kepce, Bergama.

Have you ever tried our traditional drink Ayran? Ayran is a mixture of plain natural yoghurt (preferably whole milk), water and a pinch of salt blended together, similar to buttermilk. To make ayran, blend 2 cups of plain yoghurt with 1 cup water with a pinch of salt, for about 20 seconds. You will see a nice thick foam and bubbles formed at the top. Serve in water glasses with a few ice cubes in them. You may also add a few fresh mint leaves for a refreshing taste. Ayran is a popular drink at home, especially with kebabs and casseroles, and it would go well with this casserole too.

Delicious Kemalpasa dessert at Altin Kepce with thick clotted cream, kaymak at top

Delicious Kemalpasa dessert at Altin Kepce with thick clotted cream, kaymak at top

Our feast at Altin Kepce – Bergama ended with the delicious, met-in-the-mouth Kemalpasa dessert.  The dessert takes its name  from the name from the town of Kemalpasa, part of the city of Bursa. And the town takes its name from the founder of Republic of Turkey, the great leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. This dessert contains a special cheese produced in this town, though you can substitute with a mild, unsalted white cheese like mozarella. You can buy the precooked cookies of the Kemalpasa dessert sold in packages all around Turkey and all you need to do is to prepare the sherbet to soak them in. Apparently this dessert has such a significant role in the life of the town that there is even a Kemalpasa dessert festival on September 14th.  Zerrin from Give Recipe has a fabulous Kemalpasa recipe, if you would like to have a go.

 Pergamum in spring, covered by daisies

We finally made it to Pergamum in a beautiful spring day. Built on a conical hill rising 1,000 feet above the surrounding valley, Pergamum (also spelled Pergamon, from the Greek for “citadel”) was an important capital city in ancient times. Its modern successor is the Turkish city of Bergama and this magnificent site over looks to Bergama. Bergama has an important archaeological significance, as the city not only hosts Pergamum’s acropolis but also Asklepion, both of which are both listed among the top 100 historical sites on the Mediterranean.

Pergamum, dating back to  159 BC, over looking to today's Bergama

Pergamum, dating back to 159 BC, over looking to today’s Bergama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounded by beautiful daisies in Pergamum

Surrounded by beautiful daisies in Pergamum

 Most of the buildings and monuments in Pergamum date to the time of Eumenes II (197-159 BC), including the famed library, the terrace of the spectacularly sited hillside theater, the main palace, the Altar of Zeus, and the propylaeum of the Temple of Athena. In the early Christian era, Pergamum’s church was a major center of Christianity and was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

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Once again, it’s all in the details – beautiful carvings at the columns of Pergamum, next to bed of daisies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you are in Bergama area, it is also worth visiting The Asklepion; a famed ancient medical center built in honor of Asklepios, the god of healing. It was also the world’s first psychiatric hospital. The treatments included psychotherapy, massage, herbal remedies, mud and bathing treatments, the interpretation of dreams, and the drinking of water.

The Asklepion and the Pergamum at the top of the hill, stunning view.

The Asklepion and the Pergamum at the top of the hill, stunning view.

I was told the next bloom in Pergamum will be poppies; no doubt they will look stunning next to these fascinating sites – maybe you can catch that one?

I hope the food, recipes or sites here inspires and you enjoyed the read.

Afiyet Olsun & Iyi Yolculuklar,

Ozlem

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