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A Special, Flying Visit to Istanbul


Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings; a warm welcome home

We had a flying visit to Istanbul last weekend; packed with family and friends to see, my niece’s beautiful wedding and delicious Turkish food to savor; every minute of it was special. And what better greeting than of seeing Simit, Turkish sesame coated bread rings upon arrival, a very warm welcome that I couldn’t resist.

My dear sister Oznur and fellow blogger Senior Dogs Abroad timely informed me that the Yenikapi Metro train line is now connected to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. It’s indeed joyful news; we took the metro train line from the airport all the way to 4th Levent – a seamless, smooth journey just over 1 hour and great value. I highly recommend using the Metro train line from Ataturk Airport to all the way to Taksim and beyond.

Kofteci Huseyin – Beyoglu, Istanbul:

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu - Istanbul

Kofteci Huseyin, Beyoglu – Istanbul

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Turkish meatballs, koftes served with piyaz, Turkish bean salad at Kofteci Huseyin

Just before I departed for Istanbul, I got a note from a reader, Chris, asking if I can visit Kofteci Huseyin in BeyogluIstanbul (address: Sehit Muhtar Mah. Kurabiye Sok, Akgun Is Hani, 14/A – Beyoglu – Istanbul). Apparently he had one of the best koftes, Turkish meatballs there and the tomato based sauce served with the meatballs there was just amazing. Well, I had a packed schedule but now was so curious about Kofteci Huseyin that I had to make it and so glad I did. Tucked behind Beyoglu, Kofteci Huseyin is a tiny lokanta, serving the very best Turkish meatballs with fasulye piyazi, Turkish bean salad with onions, since 1958. You are greeted with a warm smile and your koftes are made to order in front of you and served with freshly baked somun ekmek, Turkish bread with piyaz. You can tell they are passionate about their kofte; sourcing out their meat from local butchers, prepared lovingly. Kofteci Huseyin says “They ask me why I don’t serve soup or desserts; making kofte is what I do best and that’s our specialty. Every day we make kofte out of 40 kg of minced (ground beef), onion and bread crumbs and once the meat is finished, our job is finished for the day too, around 4 pm. They ask me why I don’t serve in the evenings; well, there are friends and family to see, time to pause, until the next kofte tomorrow”. I liked his way of thinking.

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Kofte, served with piyaz and somun ekmek, Turkish loaf bread

Chris especially wanted to know how they make the delicious tomato based sauce served next to the Turkish meatballs, koftes there. It’s a secret recipe apparently, though they revealed there’s crushed tomatoes and Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber in it. I have a feeling there’s also a touch of Biber Salcasi, Turkish hot pepper paste in the sauce, adding a spicy peppery flavor. Kofteci Huseyin is a delightful, small kofteci if you happen to be at Beyoglu area and I am grateful that Chris asked me to investigate. If you’d like to make kofte at home, here is my kofte, Turkish meatballs recipe 101.

Sahi Istanbul:

Meeting up with friends at Sahi Istanbul.

Meeting up with friends, Cicekten and Revan at Sahi Istanbul.

Have you discovered the beautiful Sahi Istanbul in Karakoy?  Founded by ex-colleague and dear friend Cicekten, Sahi Istanbul is home from home for me, offering the best of authentic , genuine Turkish design (as its name refers to), with traditional and contemporary objects, sourced from Turkish artisans all around Turkey. I love the beautiful hand decorated ceramics, locally sourced textiles and the authentic Turkish delights I long to taste there, whenever I am home. It was a delightful to stop by at Sahi Istanbul meeting with friends and Cicekten showered us with the best possible Turkish hospitality.

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep

Irresistable baklava, the real thing from Gaziantep.


Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Cay, boreks, pastries and home made Turkish Delights at Sahi Istanbul

Homemade Turkish delights (which you can have a go at making them at Sahi Istanbul – Karakoy); scrumptious boreks, pastries and the original baklava sourced from Gaziantep; we washed them all down with endless glasses of Turkish tea, cay and chats. Please pay a visit to Sahi Istanbul if you can, you won’t be disappointed. Sahi Istanbul’s website in English will also be available shortly.

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Locally sourced, authentic Turkish textile, ceramics, books and many more at Sahi Istanbul

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Hand made Turkish olive oil soap

Sahi Istanbul also very generously gave away their authentic Turkish bracelets and Turkish homemade soaps for my Turkish cookery classes at the Central Market Cooking Schools in the US in February 2014. Special gifts to showcase Turkish crafts and hospitality, I am very grateful to their generosity.

A Delightful Meet up over Turkish Breakfast:

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together

Kahvalti Bahane, Sohbet Sahane; Breakfast is the excuse for a wonderful get together with Senior Dogs

No visit to Turkey is complete without a leisurely Turkish breakfast with friends and family, my favorite meal of the day. Just before our departure, we managed to sit at our local café by the Bosphorus with my parents, my sister and family and dear friends and fellow bloggers Senior Dogs Abroad.  Senior Dogs live in Istanbul and blogs about life in Turkey (as well as world affairs) and I have been meaning to introduce them to my parents. My parents were delighted and so impressed with their Turkish and even more that they will be traveling to Eastern Turkey shortly. We lived in Elazig at the southeast of Turkey over 8 years when I was a child and my parents were eager to give as many tips as to where to visit- we all look forward to their adventures up there, not to be missed! As always, it was a delightful few hours spent together with family and friends.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Turkish breakfast with a glass of cay; personal favorite.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers.

Menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers  is a favorite with us; delicious for a leisurely brunch or a light supper, it is so easy to make it at home too; here’s my recipe if you’d like to give it a go.

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Overlooking Sea of Marmara from Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Boats and the Bosphorus Bridge, Istanbul

Time to say farewell and hope to see you soon, Istanbul; a special city that calls for us often.

Afiyet Olsun ve Yine Gorusmek Dilegiyle,


Peri’s Spice Ladle’s e-book, Spice Up Your Celebration is out now!!

spiceupyourcelebration3D-680x1079I really am delighted to see that dear friend and fellow blogger Peri’s Spice Ladle’s ebook, Spice Up Your Celebration; Indian Inspired recipes for Occasions, Holidays and Entertaining is out now! We have been enjoying Peri’s delicious and easy to follow Indian recipes for a long time and she really made me appreciate a variety of spices to incorporate our dishes through her wonderful, Indian inspired delicious recipes. This gem of a book is a great source to make and enjoy delicious Indian cuisine in the comfort of your home; it’s a keeper in our home and I hope you enjoy it too. You can view the details of the Spice Up Your Celebration ebook through here. Enjoy!

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15 Responses to A Special, Flying Visit to Istanbul

  1. Peri's Spice Ladle November 19, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    What a beautiful visit filled with amazing food and times with family and friends. Love the kofte and textiles…and thank you so much for your lovely words sharing my new book. I’ve been excited to see the wonderful response to it. Appreciate it, my dear. XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren November 19, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      Dear Peri, pleasure is all ours – what a beautiful book you’ve created, deserves to be shared and heard : ) Much love, Ozlem xx

  2. Senior dogs abroad November 19, 2014 at 5:09 am #

    Ozlem, How did you do it all! Well, lots of good tips in this post, I must say, and we intend to do them all. Kodteci huseyin sounds like a real find and right in our neighborhood to boot. And Sahi Istanbul is right down the hill. All our love to and your family for a delightful breakfast! xo J and M

  3. Alan November 19, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    . . always love reading about the big, bustling city where everything is happening – being ‘countryside-hermits’ our visits are usually no more than a few days otherwise we suffer melt-down. Doesn’t stop us loving the place though! Hugs from us to you, your family and the Dogs.

    • Ozlem Warren November 19, 2014 at 10:03 am #

      Merhaba Alan, many thanks – I know what you mean; I am still recuperating! I do love the buzz of Istanbul, you feel alive in all senses. It was a treat to ses the Senior Dogs, let’s hope we can get together this summer, would look forward to that.

  4. Janet November 19, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    Hi Ozlem – first, thanks for inspiring Alan to do his bit in our kitchen. I’m enjoying the results! Second, I’ve searched your site (and the internet) for Ekşili tavuk without success. It’s a dish we’ve eaten and enjoyed in different areas of Turkey, all with varying ingredients, always slightly, or very, different. I’ve also made it several times at home, especially using köy tavuk – – – just wonder if you have any special tips or ingredients? xx

    • Ozlem Warren November 19, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Merhaba Janet, really lovely to get your note – so delighted to hear Alan’s creations in the kitchen, no better compliment 🙂 Re Eksili Tavuk, this is a new one for me; I searched online for you, looks like a popular recipe especially in Mugla region. I’ve seen variations with nar eksisi in it or lemon juice, cumin, even some curry powder. I liked the idea of using pomegranate molasses and a bit of cumin; with all that onions and garlic, sounds like a wonderful dish. I may try to have a go at this one – slightly my version – will come back to you. I wasn’t sure about the frying bit with flour, I may skip that. How do you make yours? Now I am getting excited, thanks for the inspiration! Ozlem xx

      • janet November 20, 2014 at 5:34 am #

        Merhaba Ozlem, Thanks for your input. I hadn’t thought about sour pomegranate but will definitely try it, and cumin. I use lots of lemon, and especially my own preserved lemons before they run out. For thickening the stock I like to use tarhana (not flour) which I buy from our local market, made in the villages. Whatever vegetables are available I am happy to use and last week I even added some beautiful green chard. It’s a great meal with fresh crusty bread because you can first have a bowl of soup and then have the chicken and vegetables in the same bowl!

        • Ozlem Warren November 20, 2014 at 10:52 am #

          Merhaba Janet, I thank you for inspiring me with this recipe; some great ideas here using green chard and tarhana (not sure I can get hold of). I will try to have a go and make it sometime soon, cok tesekkur ederim, Selamlar, Sevgiler, Ozlem xx

  5. Turkey's For Life November 19, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Wow, not just a flying visit but an action packed flying visit. Can’t believe you squashed so much in. 🙂 That köfte looks fab – may have too look this place up next time we’re in Istanbul. Not sure when that will be but hopefully soon.

    • Ozlem Warren November 19, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Merhaba Julia, indeed it was – always so much to do and see, I try to pack in as much as I can; that city never fails to impress! Do try Kofteci Huseyin, such a gem!

  6. Terry at Adventures In Ankara November 19, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Another lovely post! Thanks for sharing! I was also in Istanbul last weekend. Perhaps we passed each other. Funny how close I feel to you and some of the other bloggers. I will definitely check out Senior Dogs Abroad!

    • Ozlem Warren November 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      So kind of you Terry, I wished our roads passed, glad you enjoyed the post : ) many thanks for your kind words and definitely check out SD! Cok Selamlar, Ozlem

  7. BacktoBodrum November 21, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    I wish other restaurants would follow Kofteci Huseyin’s example. Concentrating on producing one thing well is some much better than a long menu of indifferent food.

    • Ozlem Warren November 21, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

      I agree with you BB, Kofteci Huseyin is indeed a fine example on that, Cok Selamlar, Ozlem

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