Aleppo Muhammara (Red Pepper & Roasted Walnut Dip)

It was coming to the end of a long and sultry day as I languidly lay upon a heap of vintage embroidered cushions, the candle-lit lanterns flickering in the warm breeze of the early evening; the music in the background was haunting and exotic as if it were calling me from a far away place….

Istanbul Sweet Potato & Bulgar Wheat Koftas with Tahini & Lemon Sauce

Our Turkish friends, Selçuki and Ali, are brilliant cooks and, knowing that I’m constantly looking to enhance my knowledge, they always put food at the centre of our plans when we’re in Istanbul (I love a plan which is somewhat of a challenge for them because Turks like to act spontaneously. This is a source…

Lokanta Mercimek Çorbası (Red Lentil & Bulgar Wheat Soup)

‘Hüzün, which denotes a melancholy that is communal rather than private. Offering no clarity, veiling reality instead, hüzün brings us comfort, softening the view like the condensation on a window when a teakettle has been spouting steam on a winter’s day. Steamed-up windows make me feel hüzün, and I still love getting up and walking…

Turkish Ezme Salad

Eager to shake off the cold of an early spring evening, we literally fell through the doorway of Asmalı Cavit, a treasured wooden-fronted traditional meyhane (tavern) in the centre of Pera in Istanbul. Here, the raki flows like the waters of the glittering Bosphorus; never ending and always a sight to behold. Our friends are known to the…

Leyla’s Lyutenitsa (Spicy Red Pepper & Tomato Spread)

Leyla is a beauty and one of the most nurturing and interesting women I have ever met. She lives in a huge Bohemian apartment on the top of a quietly crumbling building with views of the Bosphorus and the Dolmabahçe mosque beneath. Books – and there are hundreds of them – are piled high upon ornate…

Aya Yorgi Fasulye Piyaz (Turkish Bean Salad)

An early morning walk through the dusty streets of Istanbul down to the banks of the Bosphorus, a long and choppy crossing over the Sea of Marmara, a death-defying ride on a horse-pulled phaeton (there are no cars on Büyükada, the largest of the Princes Islands, just mad horsemen) followed by a hot and steamy mile-long climb…

Turkish Tahini & Carob Molasses Spread

Last month, we arrived in Istanbul slap bang in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan and, one evening, our friends invited us to help with the preparations for an iftar dinner for 40 people. On the menu was a spinach and yoghurt soup dressed with caramelised onions and mint-infused butter, spiced veal and…

Turkish Menemen

Menemen, a traditional Turkish dish made from eggs, cheese, tomato, green peppers, onions, herbs and spices – is one of the mainstays of the rich Turkish culinary repertoire that pretty much everyone interprets in their own way. Just this week, for example, I’ve been served an incredibly spicy version scattered with hot red chillies as well…

Kadiköy Market, Istanbul

Last month we travelled to Istanbul to set up an exhibition of the second edition of The Gift Project at Marmara University so we were regularly travelling between the European and Asian side of the city. This was my first visit to the latter and, I have to say, I loved it just as much as its glittering…