Recipes    

Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
Find out more

Cookery Classes

I teach Turkish cooking classes in England,Turkey & USA, hope you can join us!,
Find Out More

Spring in Istanbul; Tulips, Spectacular Chora Museum, Glorious Turkish Food and More

Gorgeous tulips greet you everywhere in Istanbul in spring

Gorgeous tulips greet you everywhere in Istanbul in spring

Istanbul’dan Merhaba! – Greetings to you all from Istanbul! There are so many things to share from home, especially at this time of the year with a lovely balmy spring air. Here are a few snapshots from Istanbul, I hope you enjoy them.

Istanbul welcomed us with a lovely spring air and gorgeous tulips dotted all around the city; their colors are simply mesmerising.  Apparently the Municipality in Istanbul planted 2 million tulip bulbs, they are a feast to the eye.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the tulips, lale, in Istanbul

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the tulips, lale, in Istanbul

The Ottomans had an immense fondness for the tulips; as a matter of fact, there was  the Tulip Period  when  Ottoman Empire  have begun to orient itself towards Europe and the elite, high-class society of the Ottomans enjoyed tulips in their courtyards, gardens and in various occasions. Tulips defined nobility and privilege, both in terms of goods and leisure time. Continuing this heritage, you can enjoy the many varieties of tulips in in Istanbul in spring.

Turkish tea, cay - with a smile; a very warm welcome

Turkish tea, cay – with a smile; a very warm welcome

Cay, most probably the most popular Turkish drink

Cay, most probably the most popular Turkish drink

One of the things that warmly welcomes you at home is a glass of cay – Turkish tea (you can see the influence of the Tulip era even at the shape of the Turkish traditional tea glasses) – with a warm smile from the locals, that is a wonderful welcome. I gratefully accepted Armada’s “Hosgeldiniz” cay : )

Apple tea, elma cayi - not traditinally a Turkish drink but still very pleasant

Apple tea, elma cayi – not traditinally a Turkish drink but still very pleasant

How about apple tea, elma cayi? On the contrary of belief, it It is not a traditional Turkish drink, you wouldn’t see a Turk drinking apple tea at home. It is widely offered at cafes around Sultanahmet, Old Istanbul and still a refreshing, pleasant drink – and goes down very well sitting outside in a nice spring day over looking Old Istanbul!

Shoe-shine with a view, over looking the Hagia Sophia

Shoe-shine with a view, over looking the Hagia Sophia

Have you had your shoes polished while in Turkey? It is a great, friendly experience – with a top notch service- and value for money; my husband saves his shoes to be polished at home. On this traditional stalls, experts like Mehmet here cleans and polishes your shoe up to the standards of brand new! If you are in Sultanahmet area, look out for him, as his spot offers the fascinating view of Hagia Sophia.

Sultanahmet Koftecisi is a delicious, quick stop for Turkish style meatballs and bean salad

Sultanahmet Koftecisi is a delicious, quick stop for Turkish style meatballs and bean salad

And soon we were hungry. Sultanahmet Koftecisi has been making delicious Turkish meatballs served with the bean salad with onions, lettuce, shredded carrots and pickled peppers, for over 90 years. It is a locals hub and popular with tourists too. We enjoyed this quick, delicious and healthy lunch.

Turkish meatballs, piyaz salad with beans and ayran - make a delicious lunch

Turkish meatballs, piyaz salad with beans and ayran – make a delicious lunch

Fasulye Piyazi, the bean salad with onions, tomatoes, using the canellini beans is a delicious, healthy salad that you can make in minutes. I use the pre-cooked canellini beans and add a boiled egg to it; the salad itself makes a wonderful, healthy lunch and it is a great accompaniment to grilled meatballs and any grilled meat too. Here is my recipe for the bean salad, if you would like to try.

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs - Fasulye piyazl

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs – Fasulye piyazi

If you haven’t already been to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, I highly recommend it. Tucked away behind the Topkapi Palace, the magnificient museum is divided into three buildings; the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of Ancient Orient and the Tiled Kiosk. The museum hosts the Palace collections, formed druing the 19th century by the archaelogist Osman Hamdi.

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is a must see

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is a must see

 

Sarcophagus of Mourning Women - Mid 6th century BC
Sarcophagus of Mourning Women – Mid 6th century BC, Archaeology Museum, Istanbul
Sipping Turkish coffee and taking it all in at the Archaeology Museum, Istanbul

Sipping Turkish coffee and taking it all in at the Archaeology Museum, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom, Istanbul

No matter now many times I may have visited the Hagia Sophia, this divine place always calls me back. Hagia Sophia, the Church of Divine Wisdom, was completed in 537, and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the city was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1453, then turned into a mosque. In 1935, Ataturk proclaimed this amazing place a museum for everyone to enjoy. Take your time and arrive early to enjoy this masterpiece.

The wonderful Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

The wonderful Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

Right accross the Hagia Sophia is another masterpiece, the Blue Mosque, built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I; he set out to build a monument that would rival and even surpass Hagia Sophia in grandeur. The Blue Mosque is decorated with 20,000 Iznik tiles, absolutely beautiful to look at. This is a functioning mosque that welcomes visitors and offers much pleasure and peace.

Chocolate and pistachio pudding- Sutlu, fistikli puding, so delicious

Chocolate and pistachio pudding- Sutlu, fistikli puding, so delicious

Need a break? Hafiz Mustafa has been making delicious puddings, desserts like baklavas, Turkish delights since 1864.Their store in Sultanahmet has a wonderful cafe and a little library, a good place to pause and enjoy the break. We enjoyed this luscious chocolate and pistachio pudding with shredded coconut, almonds and nuts over the top – always have time for food : )

Turkish carpets are of high quality with beautiful designs

Turkish carpets are of high quality with beautiful designs

During our tour, we also had a chance to watch how the famous Turkish carpets are made. Turkish carpets are made of double knots, very durable and of high quality and all hand woven; they are a labor of love too, as especially the a silk carpet can take 4-6 months to be completed – really a work of art.

Chora (Kariye) Museum, Istanbul

Chora (Kariye) Museum, Istanbul

If you haven’t been to the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (“Kariye Muzesi”) in Turkish, I hope you make it there when you visit Istanbul. The church, now museum, is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine Church and covered with beautiful, immaculate mozaics. The museum is at Edrnekapi, a little further than Sultanahmet but so worth the visit. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque and, finally, it became a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes in great condition.

Chora Museum hosts fine examples of mosaics and frescoes

Chora Museum hosts fine examples of mosaics and frescoes

 

The mezze feast; hummus, abagannus, walnut & red pepper paste dip and more

The mezze feast; hummus, abagannus, walnut & red pepper paste dip and more

Soon, we were ready to eat again. I love the mezze culture we have in Turkey’; a small plateful of delicious appetizers like this hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive oil, the walnut and red pepper paste dip, the stuffed vine leaves and many more. They are a feast to all senses. You just need to control yourself not to over eat otherwise you are too full to have the main course!

Turkish flat breads with nigella seeds - so dangerously delicious, as it is hard to stop!

Turkish flat breads with nigella seeds – so dangerously delicious, as it is hard to stop eating!

These Turkish flat breads that come with the mezzes are my weak point; they are so delicious that it is hard to stop eating and they complement the mezzes so well. As soon as you sit down at the restaurants, you are served generous portions : )

Boats getting ready for the day at the Sea of Marmara

Boats getting ready for the day at the Sea of Marmara

I woke up this morning to be greeted by all these fishing boats getting ready for the day, the seagulls hunting for their first bite and the brew of cay at the background. It felt so good to be at home.

Look forward to sharing more of Istanbul and our visits to other parts of Turkey with you again soon.

Istanbul’dan Selamlar – Warm Greetings from Istanbul;

Ozlem

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 Responses to Spring in Istanbul; Tulips, Spectacular Chora Museum, Glorious Turkish Food and More

  1. Nat April 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Great post Ozlem ; must have taken a long time to put together. The museums and Chora Museum are still on my list to do. I keep running out of time whenever I am in Istanbul

    • Ozlem Warren April 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Thanks Natalie, glad you enjoyed the post. Chora Museum is stunning, so worth the while – it is a little out of the way, but do make it 🙂

  2. jaz April 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    what a wonderful trip home you are having. i think i will make the bean shelter for the shelter. it is so healthy and tasty i am sure they will love it. the pistachio pudding looks so good!

    • Ozlem Warren April 2, 2013 at 4:06 am #

      Good morning Jaz! The bean salad is very tasty, easy to make and a great value, I hope the folks out in the shelter enjoy it : )

  3. Joanne T Ferguson April 2, 2013 at 3:13 am #

    G’day! beautiful flowers to brighten my day!
    LOVE visiting museums and look forward to one day experiencing Turkish food in Turkey!
    Cheers! Joanne

    • Ozlem Warren April 2, 2013 at 4:05 am #

      G’day to you too Joanne! Glad you enjoyed the flowers, there are so many of them in Istanbul at the moment : ) I know you wil have a fabulous time when you visit Turkey : ) Best wishes, Ozlem

  4. April Ozbilgin April 2, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    Thanks for the post Ozlem. So many wonderful memories of my adopted city Istanbul! Love it and especially in the springtime. There is nothing like drinking tea in a tea garden in Turkey. If you ever get over to Yesilkoy there is a great tea garden by the seaside there. I think the name was Rhona Park (maybe spelled wrong, it has been a long time). I used to walk there from my hous on Gazi Evrenos Caddesi and meet my friends and our children would play while we drank glass after glass of hot tea. Thanks again for bringing it to my memory!

    • Ozlem Warren April 2, 2013 at 4:03 am #

      Gunaydin April! Many thanks for your kind note, so glad it brought happy memories back. I am with you, it is lovely to sit in the garden cafes and sip your tea and watch the world go by, I love that there is a feeling of calm and always time to pause and have a little drink with friends here. I will look out for the Rhona Park in Yesilkoy for you, we are in Sultanahmet, I may sneak in for a little cay : ) Istanbul’dan cok selamlar, Ozlem

  5. Peri's Spice Ladle April 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    My dear Ozlem, beautiful pictures with amazing memories being made as I read:) It must be such a joy being back in Istanbul enjoying the food and sights. The museums look wonderful and the food, as always, is tempting! Makes me wanna join you right now! I’m there with you in spirit! XxPeri

    • Ozlem Warren April 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      Hello my dear Peri, you sure are with us in spirits : ) glad you enjoyed the post, I know you will have a great time when you make it here : ) xx Ozlem

  6. Phil in the Kitchen April 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    I’m feeling very jealous of such a lovely sounding trip.I completely understand the fascination with tulips – such a fine flower. Still too cold for them here, though, at the moment.

    • Ozlem Warren April 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Hi Phil, tulips were very prominent during the Ottoman period, their design influenced many artifacts too. The flowers are gorgeous to look at : )

      • kuenwan June 8, 2014 at 12:20 am #

        Hi…i’m planning to visit Istanbul and other parts of Turkey in late March 2015. Do you think it is possible to see blooming tulips at that period? Thanks.

        • Ozlem Warren June 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

          Hi, I have been to Istanbul many times end March – early April, and the tulips have been there; unless it is dramatically and unusually cold, you should expect to see them, keeping the fingers crossed! Best wishes, Ozlem

  7. thebestdressup April 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    ciao!
    a luvMUST trip…i am enamoured.
    thebestdressup

    • Ozlem Warren April 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      thank you!

  8. Barbara April 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    Have a great trip! Needless to say I am jealous….

    • Ozlem Warren April 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

      Merhaba Barbara; we’ve just been to Ephesus, thinking of you – hope you make it here again soon : ) xx Ozlem

Leave a Reply to Nat Click here to cancel reply.