Though Turkish cuisine is a fusion of Turk, Arabic, Persian, Central Asian and Greek cuisines, there are also many regional differences in Turkey's cooking, from the Black Sea's corn and fish to the eastern region's mezes and kebabs.
A Myriad of Turkish Delights
The original treat westerners call Turkish Delight is a type of candy made with cornstarch, syrup, flavoring and various other ingredients such as nuts and dried fruits. It was created by an Ottoman chef anxious to please the reigning Sultan.
The Ottoman court provided ample opportunity for creativity in the kitchen, as many were eager to please the Sultan and gain promotion. Contemporary menus offer Turkish Delight and several, equally delicious confections of Ottoman origin, some with pleasantly sensual names such as "lady's thigh," "beauty's lips" and "lady's navel."
One of the most inventive Turkish desserts belongs to the milk-based pudding family. It is a rice flour pudding containing finely shredded chicken breast. So smooth is this pudding that it is nigh impossible for the unknowing to detect this unexpected ingredient. Huge trays of baklava and other, lesser known pastry confections made from ultrathin sheets of pastry dough beckon the sweet tooth. Rich, thick cream often accompanies these sweets.
Several scrumptious confections are made with fine strands of pastry dough. Special shops produce these strands in an ingenious way. A metal pot containing a liquid flour and water mixture is suspended over a revolving, hot copper griddle. The mixture streams out of little holes at the bottom of the pot, making a circular pattern of threads as the griddle turns. They are quickly fried and gathered from the griddle by the handful, forming each time a small bundle of threads. A favorite dessert is made by arranging butter-soaked threads in a pan and then putting on top of them a layer of cheese followed by another layer of soaked threads. After baking, the dessert is doused in sugar syrup and served piping hot.
- Influences, Customs & Hospitality
- What to Eat
- Menu Guide
- Coffee, Tea and Sociability
- Festivals & Feasts
- A Myriad of Turkish Delights
- Ali Nazik Kebabi (eggplant purée)
- Ezme Salatasi (spicy tomato salad)
- Irmikli Hurma Tatlisi (semolina dessert cookies)
- Kabak Kalye (zucchini with ground meat)
- Kisir (bulgur salad)
- Muhammara (an appetizer)
- Sirkeli Patlican (eggplant with vinegar)
- Sultan Sarma (tenderloin)
- Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolmasi (stuffed vine leaves)
from Kate's Global Kitchen:
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This page modified January 2007