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 and 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 Biber Salçası and Yoghurt Dip

Whenever we are in Istanbul, I make a point of buying several hundred grams of biber salçası, a beautiful red pepper paste available in both hot (aci) and sweet (tatli) versions which is sold in giant wooden barrels in traditional spice shops. When we get home, I transfer it to a sealed container and keep…

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…