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Greetings from Istanbul!- Istanbul'dan Merhaba – A Snapshot of Tastes, Sights and Delights

Dear Mother, Anneanne, with the grandchildren – time for a feast!

Greetings, or as we say in Turkish, a warm Merhaba to you all from Istanbul! It has been a few days since we have been at home, Istanbul, and it feels wonderful. Here I wanted to share a few snapshots of tastes, sights and delights that welcomed us here. As always, it feels amazing to be at home, spending time with family and friends. Mealtimes are always special in Turkey; the family and friends gathers around the table – the more the merrier! – sharing a delicious bite and catching up with each other. My dear parents prepared us a wonderful feast, and they always taste even better when enjoyed together.

Mother’s yoghurt soup with bulgur balls

Here is Mother’s Yoghurt Soup with bulgur balls from Antakya – this is a similar dish to Gaziantep’s Yuvalama – Yoghurt soup with bulgur balls and chickpeas; very delicious and healthy. It can be a meal on its own with some nice crusty bread aside.

Mevlubi; Antakya’s upside down rice with sauteed eggplants, potatoes and meat; a delicious regional specialty.

Mevlubi on a plate; the eggplants, potatoes and meat & rice melt in the mouth

Mevlubi was on our table; a special dish from Antakya; we cook the sauteed eggplant, potatoes and meat together with the rice on a slow heat and then turn the dish upside down. All the flavors blend and complement each other so well, a feast for the senses. Here is the recipe if you’d like to have a look.

The Turkish breakfast; sucuklu yumurta, cay, simit – my favorite meal of the day.


Ali passing the second round of cay – Turkish tea; the most popular drink at home

We indulged, enjoyed the wonderful dinner and thought we won’t be able to eat for another week. But no, by the time it was morning, we were ready for the Turkish breakfast! Turkish sausages, sucuk with eggs, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, cheese, olives, honey and more, crowned with cay, Turkish tea; – my favorite meal of the day.

The Bosphorus bridge and a passing traditional ferry, Vapur at Ortakoy – Istanbul

Ortakoy Market is full of decorative items, ceramic pottery and more

A good brisk walk was in order to after all that indulgence and we headed to the vibrant Ortakoy Market. You can find many stalls selling  jewelry, pottery, decorative items as well as delicious streetfood in Ortakoy on Sundays.

Asli Borek in Besiktas; delicious variety of boreks, savory pastries with vavious fillings awaits you there.

I was off to Besiktas the next day. Besiktas is one of my favorite districts in Istanbul; you can still find the village atmosphere there; the borekci, savory pastry shop selling all kinds of boreks, vibrant fish market, groceries selling seasonal produce and all small scale shops still exist and everyone knows one another. Asli Borek in Besiktas Carsi (Market) is a favorite with freshly baked cheese & parsley filled borek, tepsi Boregi and cheese and spinach filled boreks, Ispanakli Borek; they melt in the mouth.

Peynirli, Ispanakli borek; Cheese & Spinach filled pastry – goes so well with a cup of tea, cay.

 With a glass of cay, these boreks go down so well. You see locals popping in an out and getting their freshly baked boreks with a cup of tea, for their breakfast – my kind of start for the day.

Tulumba tatlisi; syrup soaked crispy outside but soft inside pastries are amongst the sweet treats offered at Borekcis and Pastanes – Patiseries

The main event on Monday was my Turkish cookery class at the Istanbul Culinary Institute. We cooked and enjoyed Pistachio lamb kebabs, lentil soup, kunefe  with enthuiastic food lovers together. Nice to hear that they felt they can have a go at them at home and that the class inspired.

Cooking together at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

I had a special guest, my mother, in the class on Monday, for the first time. It was lovely to share with her and her presence was vital as being the kunefe expert! 🙂

Preparing the kunefe with my mother at the class, a very special guest.

And here is the glorious, syrup soaked, cheese and Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak filled kunefe from the class! The crispy golden pastry strands makes such a wonderful contrast with the syrup soaked melted cheese in the middle; a very special treat.

Syrup soaked, cheese filled baked pastry strands, Kunefe – a very festive dessert.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the highlights of our Istanbul trip, and I hope the recipes can inspire you to have a go. They really are not difficult and they can help make any day special. There are plenty more to share, hope soon.

Until next time, Afiyet Olsun!







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17 Responses to Greetings from Istanbul!- Istanbul'dan Merhaba – A Snapshot of Tastes, Sights and Delights

  1. joyce February 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    wonderful! those syrup soaked pastries look like canelles! i have been wanting to make them and recently ordered the molds for them.

    • Ozlem Warren February 21, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi Joyce, Istanbul’dan merhaba! Glad the kunefe recipe came useful, look forward to seeing your delicious creation! Ozlem

  2. cristina February 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Dear Ozlem,

    Your post made me miss Istanbul so much, the most beautiful city in the world. Your table looks delicious, now it is obvious from where you have the talent for cooking.
    Greetings to you and your family from Bucharest,


    • Ozlem Warren February 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Dear Christina, greetings from Istanbul! Very kind of you, glad Istanbul post brought back good memories, I hope you make it here again. My best wishes to you and many thanks again, Ozlem

  3. Joy @My Turkish Joys February 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Beşiktaş is one of my favorite neighborhoods too esp. since I live right by it! It was wonderful to see you again and to partake in your cooking class at the Institute. Great recipes! My husband is happy too that I finally learned how to make kunefe. Cheers!

    • Ozlem Warren February 21, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

      Merhaba Joy! It was wonderful to see you too, thank you so much for joining the class! Enjoy Besiktas, and so glad kunefe hit the spot:) Ozlem x

  4. Peri's Spice Ladle February 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    My dear. Ozlem, what a delight to see your mom with the kids and family…as also part of the cooking class at Istanbul culinary institute:) absolutely precious times together! And the food and sights are so. Vibrant, I feel like I was right there with you! XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren February 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

      Hello dear friend, many thanks for your kind note! it is special to be in Istanbul and having family nearby, and a chance to have mum at the class, I was delighted. So glad you liked the post, one day soon I hope you get to see all these first hand, I know you love it 🙂 xx Ozlem

  5. Phil in the Kitchen February 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    I’m feeling very jealous. The food looks delightful – the mevlubi looks so tempting and that choice of boreks is wonderful. I’m looking forward to hearing the next episode of your trip.

    • Ozlem Warren February 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Hellos from Istanbul Phil; I am having more than my fair share of these delights; I truly hope you can make it to Istanbul sometime – you won’t be dissapointed. In the meantime, it is a pleasure to share what we have seen and enjoyed here:)

  6. BacktoBodrum February 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    Great photos – one day I’ll get to one of your classes.

    • Ozlem Warren February 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Merhaba, I would love to have a chance to meet you one day 🙂 many thanks!

  7. Alida February 22, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    What a beautiful family photos, so many smiles and such a beautiful gorgeous looking food.
    Tulumba Tatlisi look very nice!!

    • Ozlem Warren February 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      Ciao Alida, hellos from Istanbul! Glad you enjoyed it – tulumba tatlisi is really a special treat!:)

  8. Ilke February 24, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    It was a wonderful class. I am back to US, it has been only a day and I am already missing everything…

    • Ozlem Warren February 25, 2013 at 9:52 am #

      Merhaba Ilke, so kind of you; it was a real pleasure to meet you and have you at the class. I am back to England now and understand how you feel. You now just need to go back to kitchen and recreate those wonderful Turkish dishes, i know you’ll do a brilliant job:) cok sevgiler, Ozlem


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