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Tag Archives | Bosphorus

Greetings from Istanbul! Sights, people and food, glorious food

The Bosphorus bridge, Kiz Kulesi - the Maiden tower and the glorious Bosphorus

The Bosphorus bridge, Kiz Kulesi – the Maiden tower and the glorious Bosphorus

Istanbul’dan merhaba! Home, sweet home; I think the more I age, home, my roots calls me even more eagerly, it is wonderful to be back home. Here are a few snap shots of what we have been up to.

It’s been only a few days since we’ve been here and we managed to fit in a lot of family visits and said “Mutlu Bayramlar.” I especially enjoyed having a chance to visit the elderly with the children, hearing their stories to them, such precious moments to savour. Istanbul is the place to be during the Bayram holiday as most folks left for holidays. So wonderful to be able to enjoy the city minus the traffic.

Cay, peynirli borek and pogaca; a very warm welcome home

Cay, peynirli borek and pogaca; a very warm welcome home

Cay, peynirli borek, Turkish tray bake pastry with cheese and parsley and pogaca made a very warm welcome home.

Turkish mezzes and vegetables cooked in olive oil

Turkish mezzes and vegetables cooked in olive oil

One of the things I very much long is enjoying a vast array of freshly prepared mezzes and enjoying them along the Bosphorus. With a beautiful breeze and friends and family nearby, it is heavenly.

Enjoying a glass of cay and Turkish breakfast at Rumelihisari, Istanbul

Enjoying a glass of cay and Turkish breakfast with dear friends at Rumelihisari, Istanbul

I was grateful that a few dear friends were still in Istanbul during Bayram and we enjoyed a long, leisurely Turkish breakfast and multiple glasses of cay at Rumelihisari, Sade Kahve.

Sigara boregi, ciborek, freshly squeezed orange juice and many more; Turkish breakfast

Sigara boregi, ciborek, freshly squeezed orange juice and many more; Turkish breakfast

Gozlemes, Anatolian flat breads with fillings are made at the oval sac oven in front of you, with an infectious smile. Impossible to pass on.

Ciborek with a smile

Ciborek with a smile

Gozleme; Anatolian flatbreads with fillings

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

And we’re off again; this time taking the ferry, vapur, to visit our dear, elderly aunt with the children. I love traveling with the traditional ferries, vapur; it is nostalgic, offers spectacular views and a wonderful way to be a part of the local life. The ferry itself promises a lot of fun and excitement to us all. Children loved looking at to the sights with the ferry’s telescope – only 1 TL –

The traditional ferries, vapur, is an ideal way to cross the Bosphorus

The traditional ferries, vapur, is an ideal way to cross the Bosphorus

My son trying the telescope at the ferry

My son trying the telescope at the ferry

Of course, one can also have a delightful glass of cay and Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings to nibble while on the ferry – again, served with a wonderful smile.

Simit and a glass of cay at the ferry, vapur - one of my favorite rituals

Simit and a glass of cay at the ferry, vapur – one of my favorite rituals

Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, over the Bosphorus

Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, over the Bosphorus

Once in Kadikoy, we decided we need more Simit; so popped in the local bakery to get some more, along with some white cheese, beyaz peynir and tomatoes for the afternoon tea at our Meskure Hala, our dear aunt.

Freshly baked Simit at the local bakery, firin

Freshly baked Simit at the local bakery, firin

The following day started with a visit to Besiktas; I love Besiktas Carsisi; it’s market, small scale shops, fish monger and endless eatries. It has a village feel where folks greet one another, get their daily bread from the bakery, firin, the Turkish coffee and nuts from the local kuruyemisci; the list goes on and on. I got lost for words at Simit Molasi Cafe – Sigara Boregi; pastry rolls with cheese and parsley for us. And more simit, if one desires more.

Sigara boregi, cheese rolls with filo pastry and Simit, sesame encrusted Turkish bread rings galore at Simit Molasi, Besiktas

Sigara boregi, cheese rolls with filo pastry and Simit, sesame encrusted Turkish bread rings galore at Simit Molasi, Besiktas

Next stop is Ortakoy;  lovely to see the restoration at the Ortakoy Mosque is compiled – looks fascinating.

Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul

Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul

If you’re after a really good quality Turkish delight, have a look at Yeni Ugur Helvacisi in Ortakoy; I loved their new Turkish delight with pomegranates, they are packed with flavor. If you fancy making your own Turkish Delight, here is my home made Turkish Delight recipe.

Freshly ground Turkish coffee at Meraklilar Kuruyemiscisi, Ortakoy - Istanbul

Freshly ground Turkish coffee at Meraklilar Kuruyemiscisi, Ortakoy – Istanbul

Last stop, freshly ground Turkish coffee at Meraklilar Kuruyemiscisi, Ortakoy; smells heavenly. Hope you enjoy yours, Turkish coffee really is more than a drink – afiyet olsun!

 A delightful visit to Burgazada, Burgaz Island

It’s our last day in Istanbul before we depart for Bodrum and we took the ferry to Burgazada, one of the Princes’ islands  near to Istanbul. Children got very excited with the prospect of getting on the ferry again and riding bicycle in the Island. We had a special purpose of this visit too, as we arranged to meet up with dear Mark and Jolee from the wonderful blog Senior Dogs Abroad. Mark and Jolee live in Istanbul and blog about the life in Turkey as well as world affairs, they’re a pleasure to follow, a delightful company.

Charming horse carriages at Burgazada

Charming horse carriages at Burgazada

No vehicles are allowed in the island except the horse carriages and bicycles, which makes the islands even more inviting; a breath of fresh air.

Friday is the Market day, Pazar in Burgazada and I am grateful that the Senior Dogs kindly guided us to the right direction! Fresh, breathtaking produce galore; one can easily spend a day there, just wonderful.

Market day in Burgazada; fresh produce in abundance

Market day in Burgazada; fresh produce in abundance

Sivri biber, green pointy peppers and eggplant, patlican at Burgazada.

Sivri biber, green pointy peppers and eggplant, patlican at Burgazada.

Preserved vine leaves, ready for stuffing, so inviting – presented with a wonderful smile.

Vine leaves, sold at Burgazada, ready for stuffing

Vine leaves, sold at Burgazada, ready for stuffing

Time to say farewell and see you soon, many thanks to Mark and Jolee for having us at Burgazada!

Visiting dear friends at Burgazada

Visiting dear friends at Burgazada

With best wishes to all; hope to be in touch from Bodrum!


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Vegetable & Chickpea Soup with a Delicious Twist- Try sautéed Turkish spicy sausage, Sucuk on top! & Istanbul Calling in February!

Vegetables and chickpea soup with sauteed spicy Turkish cured beef sausage slices on top; a delicious twist.

I love a good, hearty soup in winter. With some crusty bread by the side, it can be a meal on its own for me.

Yoghurt soup with bulgur balls, Gaziantep's yuvalama, served at Kiva restaurant, Istanbul.

Soups, -“Corba” in Turkish-, form a very important part of Turkish diet; almost every dinner, especially in cooler months, start with soup in Turkish households. In rural Anatolia, it is also common for this Yayla Corbasi, yoghurt & rice soup with dried mint and red pepper flakes or Mercimek Corbasi, the hearty and delicious lentil soup to be eaten as breakfast, for a substantial meal, throughout the year. You see soup stalls in every town, village and city in Turkey.

Vegetables soup; sebze corbasi; chickpeas add a wonderful texture and taste, and also make the soup more substantial.

We have all been feeling a little under the weather last week and I made this simple, but delicious soup, using the vegetables I had in the fridge. Potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, celery all work wonders when brought together with a drizzle of olive oil, a good quality can of chopped tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon. The chickpeas also add a wonderful texture and taste, as well as making the soup more substantial. Here again spices take special credit; 1-2 teaspoonful of red pepper flakes will add a lot of flavor naturally to the soup (and the research says red pepper flakes do help you to lose weight! 🙂

Sliced Turkish cured beef sausage, sucuk ; wonderful when sauteed in olive oil.

But I couldn’t stop there. Once in a while, I do crave our spicy Turkish sausage, Sucuk. Shaped like a horseshoe, Sucuk is a cured sausage made with lamb or beef, and flavored with garlic and spices; I love its spicy taste with cumin notes in it (and sucuk is one of the highlights of the Turkish Breakfast!). I decided to add some sautéed sliced Turkish sausage over my vegetable soup. This delicious addition made the soup even more exciting, with all my taste buds having one great feast! I hope you can get Turkish sausage, sucuk, if not, the Spanish chorizo sausage would work well in this soup too. This version is not a traditional Turkish soup; I have experimented using sauteed Turkish sausage here and delighted to see that it worked well.

Here is the recipe for the soup – you can enjoy the vegetarian version or have a go at the one with spicy sausages, sucuk. We had both versions depending on our mood and very much we enjoyed them.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes                        Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

2 medium potatoes, cut in small chunks

2 onions, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, cut in small chunks

4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 celery sticks, cut in small chunks

Juice of 1 lemon

30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

400gr/14oz can of Italian chopped tomatoes

400gr/14oz can of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1.75lt/3pints/7 ½ cups water (or chicken stock, if you prefer)

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

15ml/ 1tbsp red pepper flakes

For sautéed Sucuk, Turkish cured beef/lamb sausage:

75gr /3oz Turkish cured sausage, Sucuk, quartered and sliced

15 ml, 1 tbsp olive oil

Wedges of lemon to serve

Crusty bread to serve

Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy pan and stir in the onion; sauté for a few minutes until they begin to color. Then add the rest of the vegetables, toss in and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes, and combine well.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and pour in the water (or stock) and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and partially cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas – Nohutlu Sebze Corbasi

Add the chopped parsley, (drained and rinsed) cooked chickpeas and the lemon juice, combine well. Check the seasoning and add more salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes according to your taste, turn the heat off. Your vegetable soup with chickpeas ready; serve hot with plenty crusty bread and a wedge of lemon by the side for extra zing.

Sauteed spicy Turkish sausage, Sucuk; adds a lot of flavor to the soup.

If you like to spice up your soup a little more and add a delicious twist, sauté the sliced sucuk, Turkish cured sausage, in a separate pan with a little olive oil for a few minutes. Once they start to change color and sizzle, they are ready.

Vegetable and chickpeas soup with sauteed Turkish cured sausage, sucuk.

Ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls and stir in the sautéed Turkish sausages over the top. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon and crusty bread by the side.

Sucuklu Kuru Fasulye; delicious Turkish bean stew with spicy Turkish sausage.

More ideas using Sucuk? How about our traditional Bean Stew with Sausages – Sucuklu Kuru Fasulye?  – Such a delicious, wholesome meal; make sure you have plenty of crusty bread near you to mop up all the juices!

Afiyet Olsun,


Istanbul Calling! Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Class at the Istanbul Culinary Institute on February 18th 2013 

I will be teaching at the Istanbul Culinary Institute on 18th February, 2013.

I am so very excited to be going back home, Istanbul; can’t wait to take in all the sights, smells and taste in mid-February! I will be returning to the wonderful Istanbul Culinary Institute to teach a Southern Turkish style cookery class on Monday, February 18th. If you are in Istanbul and would like to join us, please take a look at the class details here.

Look forward to many more cay, Turkish tea by the Bosphorus, Istanbul!

I can’t wait to go back to my homeland and look forward sharing what I will see and taste in Istanbul with you here – stay tuned! : )

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Boreks, Simit, Turkish Breakfast and More – Some of My Favorite Turkish Treats & How to Re-create Them

Living abroad, there are certain Turkish food, especially the Turkish street food, places (and of course, people) that I dearly miss – and I am sure it is the same for many of you, who live outside of your homeland.

The Bosphorus, cruising through Sea of Marmara in ferries, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia - some of my favorite things in Istanbul

Once settled down at your “new home”, the feeling of  missing replaces itself with “how to recreate these treats in your new home phase”. This is how I started blogging about my homeland, Turkey, and Turkish food, and I am grateful to have a chance to connect and share the many wonderful things my homeland offers with you. I am delighted to see that we can recreate many of our favorite food, with a little substitution or tweak here and there.

Patatesli & peynirli borek; filo pastry rolls with cheese and potato

Take the boreks; one of my favorite parts of Turkish cuisine, the stuffed, filled pastries. Traditionally, we would use the fresh, paper thin sheets of pastry, yufka, widely available at home. Living in England, I cannot get yufka, but the filo pastry sheets you can get at the supermarkets work as a good substitution to make boreks. One thing to bear in mind that they can get dry easily, and that you need to keep them moist with a damp cloth over them, while working. Here is a good demo on handling filo pastry.

Borekci, borek shops in Turkey sell all kinds of freshly made savory pastries with different fillings, one of my favorite stops!

We use different kinds of fillings for our boreks; some with leek and cheese, some with potato, cheese and parsley, onion and ground meat and many more. You can bake these pastries using filo pastry sheets ahead of time, and leftovers can be frozen successfully. My children love these boreks;  if frozen, grease a baking tray and place them on the tray. Then reheat in the oven at 180C/350 F for about 15-20 minutes. They magically appear on the table and are gone very quickly!

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are the ultimate Turkish street food.

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are another favorite. With a cup of cay -Turkish tea-, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese by the side, they are the ultimate Turkish breakfast for me . And yes, you can bake your own sesame encrusted, golden rings, simit, easier than you think : )

The wonderful Turkish breakfast with simit, cay, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, olives, cheese, eggs with Turkish sausage, sucuk, honey and favorite meal of the day!

And, a leisurely Turkish breakfast shared with friends and family by the Bosphorus is simply unbeatable, for me.

Balik & ekmek, Turkish grilled (or lighly fried) fish sandwich is another delicious street food at home. Fisherman prepare the catch of the day in their boats; a simple grill with salad, slices of onion on a fresh loaf of bread; just wonderful.

Fisherman preparing "balik&ekmek" in a traditional boat in Golden Horn, Istanbul

I re-created my version of balik ekmek with a delicious, refreshing piyaz salad with sumac, onion rings, parsley and tomatoes by the side – all I need to do is to I close my eyes and visualize myself to be by the Bosphorus in Istanbul!

Grilled fish sandwich goes so well with the refreshing piyaz salad of onion rings, tomato and parsley with sumac dressing.

Turkish delight, lokum with rose water, pistachios, walnuts, or plain – sade -; all delicious treats.

Fragrant, melt in the mouth Turkish delight is another treat I dearly miss – my children prefer Turkish delight over chocolate! – Then, you find a way to re-create it, and delighted to see that this Turkish delight recipe works really well! It is a wonderful treat to make for your friends and family for special occasions.

Fragrant, home made Turkish Delight, easier than you think.

I hope you can have a go and start re-creating any of your favorite food from your homeland; it is easier than you think, and can be really rewarding too.

Cooking together with participants at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

One way of getting in to re-creating your favorite dishes maybe attending a cookery workshop and see at firsthand how to break down the recipes and follow them. Many of participants attended my cooking classes expressed how pleasantly surprised that they can make the dishes easily and the experience was inspirational. My next Turkish cooking class in Istanbul Culinary Institute will be on Feb 19th 2013.

I am also grateful to be able to connect some wonderful bloggers who blogs about Turkey, Turkish cuisine and its people, with wonderful, inspirational photos and insights. Here are some of them that regularly follow and get a wonderful dose of home:

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: Claudia’s delicious blog follows the seasonal produce in Turkey with wonderful market photos. Claudia also does great Old City Walks with Istanbul Eats, be sure to check out.

Entrance of Misir Carsisi, Spice Market - Istanbul; a foodie heaven.

Turkey’s for Life, Turkish Travel Blog  and Archers of Okcular  feed us with fabulous photos, stories, news around Turkey, they are a joy to follow! My Turkish Joys is another lovely blog, with wonderful recipes and travel photos from home. Joy is also a brilliant pastry chef and know all things about pastry, so be sure to check her blog out.

Let the children guide you in Antakya; they are always happy to help.

Like many things, it is the human factor, friendly people; a warm smile, hospitality that makes a place special that makes us to go back there again and again. I think that sums up my homeland for me.

A local in Pergamum, selling region's delicious honey and pine nuts - and letting us have a little sample:)

Last but not least, I am also very grateful for your company to share a dose of home with me, following my blog, your comments and feedback; they are very precious, thank you very much. I hope these photos and information inspires you to explore Turkey, have a go at the recipes to treat yourself and family, friends.

A glass of cay by the Bosphorus = happiness 🙂

Afiyet olsun & happy travels to you all,


Sharing a delicious feast in Antakya during my culinary tour in 2009.

If you would like to join us and explore Turkey from a local’s perspective in my next culinary and cultural tour in April 2013 please contact me.


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