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Tag Archives | Turkish Delight

Delicious Turkish Festive Meals To Share; Mutlu Bayramlar!

Turkish Delights, Lokum galore! An integral part of the festivities in Turkey

Turkish Delights, Lokum galore! An integral part of the festivities in Turkey

Muslims around the world will be celebrating the Feast of Sacrifice, Kurban Bayrami or Eid al-Adha as of 21st of August in 2018. I have many happy memories celebrating this special event with the family back in Turkey. This is the time family and friends get together to share their food and charity is at the top of the list. Food is shared with friends, family and contribution to charity and sharing the food with the poor and needy is what makes Kurban Bayrami special. Visiting family and friends is another highlight; we children  would wear our best frocks and visit the elderly to pay our respects (and spoilt with delicious sweets).

As always, food takes the center stage and here are some ideas for you to prepare your festive Kurban Bayrami or Eid al-Adha table. Most of the dishes here can be prepared ahead of time and makes it easy for entertaining for any festivity or gathering.

All these lovely, authentic Turkish recipes, along with personal stories included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. You can order Signed copies at this link to treat yourself or gift to a foodie.

Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table book, available to order at this link

Soup of the Mountain Pastures with Yoghurt, Whole Grain Rice, Dried Mint and Paprika Flakes -Yayla Corbasi 

Delicious, wholesome yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi

Delicious, wholesome yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi

Soups, “Corba” in Turkish, form a very important part of Turkish diet; almost every dinner, especially in cooler months, start with a soup in Turkish households and Bayram table is no exception. This simple but delicious yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi, originates back to Anatolia’s earliest settlers and nomadic herdsman. It is one of the most popular soups in Turkey, flavored with dried mint and paprika flakes and would make a perfect start to any festive meal.

Baked Icli Kofte – Oruk, Cevizli Biber- Walnut dip, red pepper paste dip, Patlicanli Eksileme- Roasted Eggplant Salad

Baked Kibbeh – Oruk, from Ozlem’s Turkish Cookery book

My mother would start preparing for the Bayram feast from weeks well ahead of time. She would make the Oruk ,baked bulgur shells with walnuts & ground meat, even a month or so ago, as it can keep freezer very well. Cevizli Biber, the Walnut & red pepper paste dip  is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating it.. You can keep the dip covered in the fridge for 3-4 days and it gets better the next day! How about this Roasted Eggplant salad, Patlicanli Eksileme? This is a wonderful, refreshing salad can be served as part of a “mezze” – appetizer- or can accompany grilled meats and vegetables.

Spinach and Cheese Pie- Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek, a winner for all 

Spinach and Cheese Pie, Ispanakli, peynirli borek; a winner for all

Spinach and Cheese Pie, Ispanakli, peynirli borek; a winner for all

Boreks, Stuffed savory pastries has a special place in Turkish cuisine; they are an essential part of the festivities or gatherings. This wonderful spinach and cheese pie has to be one of the most deliciously pleasing and easy borek around. I use the filo pastry sheets for this recipe and it works well. If frozen, you need to defrost them overnight in the fridge and leave at room temperature about 2 hours before using. I combine the feta cheese with mozzarella in this recipe to make it moister. You can serve this pie as an appetizer; they are also delicious at afternoon tea time with cay, tea aside.

Imam Bayildi; Eggplants Cooked in Olive Oil with Onion, Garlic and Tomato

Imam Bayildi; Stuffed eggplants with onions, garlic and tomatoes; simply delicious

Imam Bayildi; Stuffed eggplants with onions, garlic and tomatoes; simply delicious

Imam Bayildi, Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables, would also make a delicious, refreshing vegetarian course at the festive tables. The aubergines are gently poached in this dish with a generous mixture of onions, tomatoes and garlic. This dish is in the category of Vegetables cooked in olive oil, Zeytinyaglis in Turkish cuisine, where the vegetables are poached in olive oil and little water and served either cold or room temperature with a slice of lemon aside.

 A Festive DishMevlubi; Layers of Eggplants, Potatoes, Meat and Rice

A very festive dish, Mevlubi; layers of eggplant, potato and meat cooked with rice

A very festive dish, Mevlubi; layers of eggplant, potato and meat cooked with rice

Another signature dish from my mother’s table, Mevlubi; this special dish makes an appearance in every special occasion on my parent’s table and it is fit for festivities. I love that succulent meat, eggplant, potato all cooked together and their flavor enhance one another. As you can cook ahead of time, this wonderful all in one dish makes an impressive main course and you get to spend more time with your company. For maximum results, please cook on low heat, and let Mevlubi rest for minimum 30 minutes prior serving.

 Pistachio Lamb Kebabs on Flat Breads & Sauteed Carrots in Garlic Yoghurt 

Pistachio lamb kebabs  are easy to recreate in your home, delicious and look impressive. Children love them as well as the adults, so they are great for entertaining. Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish specialty; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab is a real crowd pleaser, and can make any day special.

Yoghurt has a special place in Turkish cuisine; some of the finest yoghurt in the world is made in Turkey and is included in some way at most family meal times. This simple but very delicious Turkish mezze, Sauteed carrots in garlic yoghut is a favorite with us and complements these pistachio kebabs very well.

Festive Desserts

Baklava with Walnuts and Pistachios; Cevizli, Fistikli Baklava

 Homemade Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Homemade Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner and it is fit for festivities! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Hope you enjoy my version of  baklava which is a little less sweet and more fragrant. Using filo pastry sheets, making baklava is much easier than you think.

Kunefe – Kadayifi

Antakya's kunefe; kadayifi

Antakya’s kunefe; kadayifi, a very festive dessert

 This glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya and a very festive dessert. 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 – fresh mozzarella works well. I also like to add a little clotted cream; my mother would add the wonderfully thick cream we get in Turkey, called Kaymak.  Kunefe can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Milk Pudding with Mastic Gum; Sakizli Muhallebi

Milk pudding with mastic gum; Sakizli Muhallebi, a light, fragrant pudding

Milk pudding with mastic gum; Sakizli Muhallebi, a light, fragrant pudding

How about this delicious, light and fragrant milk pudding with mastic gum for a sweet treat? In Turkey, mastic gum is used in milky desserts, ice cream (a very delicious experience). Originally liquid, mastic gum is sold as hard small translucent lumps and melted in hot milk while making dessert. Any berry or plum compote would also go well with this pudding. 

Turkish Coffee and Turkish Delight; they go well together

Turkish Coffee and Turkish Delight; they go so well together

As always, Turkish coffee and Turkish delight would be the perfect end for the festive gathering.

Mutlu Bayramlar to all celebrating. I hope these delicious food may inspire and be enjoyed during any festivities, gatherings with family and friends.

Afiyet Olsun,



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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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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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