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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 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.

Turkish coffee, Turkish delight and over 90 authentic Turkish recipes with stunning photography also included at my Gourmand winner cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – you can order Signed copies at this link, also check out the ebook options, – hard back copies delivered worldwide.

Afiyet Olsun; I hope you enjoy your Turkish coffee,



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Mezzes, Kebabs with Pistachios in Cherry Sauce and Many More – 9th February, Saturday, Turkish Cookery Class & Wisley Gardens on the New Year's Day

My best wishes for a happy, healthy and delicious 2013 to you all, I hope you enjoyed the holidays and this post finds you all well.

Turkish cookery classes are fun, friendly and it is a pleasure to share Turkish cuisine and traditions.

I have an exciting Turkish cookery class coming up on February 9th, Saturday, from 10 am to 12 noon at Oatlands Village Hall, Weybridge, Surrey and I wanted to share the details with you. We will have exotic, refreshing flavors, such as the delicious fillo pastry rolls with cheese and parsley filling (Sigara Boregi)Ground Lamb & Beef Kebabs with pistachio in tomato and cherry sauce, over flat bread with roasted vegetables and many more. These are the dishes you can easily re-create in your home after the class to share with family and friends.

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Let’s have a go at Turkish Cuisine; Sultan’s Delight, Zucchini Fritters, Kunefe (Kadayifi); Easier than You Think!

“Thank you for the wonderful Turkish cooking class; I learned so much about the Turkish cuisine, and couldn’t believe how easy it is to cook delicious, healthy food”; this has been one of the comments at my recent Turkish cooking class. It is always a pleasure to see participants’ enjoying the class and realize how easy to make Turkish dishes, using fresh ingredients.

It is a pleasure and lots of fun sharing Turkish cuisine, recipes, traditions at the cookery classes

Well, I have a new Turkish cookery class coming up on Saturday, 20th October, and I wanted to share what we will be up to.  The classes are friendly, informal with step by step demonstration of the recipes, and packed with useful information on where to source ingredients,  substitution ( when needed) and on Turkish cuisine and culture. If you are in the area and would like to join us, please contact me. If not, I hope the recipes may still inspire you to have a go to treat yourself, family and friends; they are delicious and easier than you think! Here is our menu for the class:

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters flavored with Feta and Dill – Mucver. This appetizer is a wonderful way to flavor the zucchini; dill and feta really goes well with the zucchini. An important tip here is to squeeze out any excess water of the grated zucchini with a paper/tea towel. This will prevent the fritters to get soggy.  You can enjoy mucver  warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. It is truly delicious with garlic infused yoghurt by the side.

Zucchini fritters are utterly delicious; garlicky yoghurt would complement them well.

Sultan’s Delight –  Ragout With Pureed Eggplant And Béchamel Sauce – Hunkar Begendi

Hunkar Begendi; delicious ragout on a bed of smoked eggplant puree; for a vegetarian option, you can serve the puree with grilled vegetables.

This Ottoman classic is served with smoky tasting eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce. When Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat or vegetables.

Smoking the eggplants is an important step to make the Hunkar Begendi, Sultan's Delight.

Important tip; if you cook the eggplants on stove top or burner, you get a wonderful smoky flavor for the eggplants. As an alternative, you can also bake the eggplants in the oven – make sure to prick the eggplants before baking.

Hunkar Begendi is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. It is great for entertaining; looks very inviting and the marriage of the eggplant & béchamel sauce with the ragout is divine. For a vegetarian option, why not serving the puree with Fried Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce; Saksuka ? 

Kunefe – Kadayifi

Syrup soaked delicate pastry strands with cheese; kunefe is an ultimate treat.

This dessert is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya (please click here for more delicious recipes and photos from Antakya). I can still remember getting the freshly baked Tel Kadayif (pastry strands) from the local bakery, watching the delicate strands forming from the huge sieve. And I can still visualize my grandmother cooking Kunefe in her stone oven in her garden, and, we, her grandchildren excitedly waiting for any leftovers of the butter soaked pastry strands….glorious days .

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli. In Antakya, there are specialty shops like this, making the fresh pastry strands for kunefe.

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – mozzarella works well too. It can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Kunefe recipe will be in the blog shortly.

We will finish the class with the aromatic Turkish coffee, Turkish way. Always a wonderful experience.

Turkish coffee; delicious way to end a Turkish meal.

Have you ever made any of these dishes? Could I tempt you to have a go?:) I would be more than happy to help you along the way and answer your questions, just let me know. I bet yours will be more delicious than mine:)

My late grandmother's 450 year old stone house in Antakya; the house has been a very happy place to cook and enjoy delicious food, and an inspiration for us to keep the recipes, traditions alive.

Happy Cooking, Afiyet Olsun!




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