Culinary Anthropologist

Secret Kitchen menu, 15th May 2010

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a Turkish dinner

Pide with zahter and olive oil, dried mulberries, pistachios
Wet and wild garlic cacık
Muhammara – walnut & pomegranate molasses spread
şuka – mixed vegetable salad
Sarma – stuffed spring and summer greens
Baked humus with pine nuts
Mercimek köftesi – red lentil patties
Bakla – broad bean puree with dill
Seasonal greens (nettles, chard, mustard, sorrel)
Firik – green wheat – with slow-roast mutton
Sigara böreği – cow’s cheese & herb pastries
Green bean zeytinyağlı
Leek & carrot zeytinyağlı
Eggs with yoghurt, maraş pepper & sage

Kısır – bulgur & sumac salad
Apricots poached in mulberry molasses with clotted cream

More than just kebabs

This dinner was inspired by two great cooks we met in Turkey – Zeliha İrez and Erhan Şeker – who both hosted us extraordinarily generously, presenting exquisite dish after dish night after night. 

Neither of them cooked us kebabs.  Sure, there are plenty of kebabs in Turkey of all kinds, and many are delicious.  But it was Zeliha and Erhan’s easy use of wild greens, seasonal vegetables, unusual grains, fruit molasses, nuts and mountain herbs which caught our imagination.

Turkey is huge and its styles of cooking are diverse.  In the west, for example, you will find abundant use of olive oil, greens and vegetables.  The northeast is famous for its hazelnuts, little fish, honey and tea.  And in the southeast everything is that much spicier and sweeter.  Tea – always taken with at least two cubes of sugar – is the national drink.

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