1000 years of Anatolia Country powered by Ottoman Dynasty in 600 years made the palace cuisine had a lot of variation. And years to years, Palace cuisine slowly became growth as common people cuisine. There is expression that there are only three major culinary places: Turkish, Chinese, and France.
What reason made Turkish culinary became major culinary in the world? Turkish, as geographical is a transition between East and West, and Turkish was stop in point of Spices traffic, so it is surprising if Turkish became top world’s culinary. The culture collide expand the culinary.One example of famous food in Turkish is Lokum or loukoum, known as Turkish delight. This food kindly like marsepein (Dutch), made from sugar and starch. The popular version was water rose taste, soft pink colored. In the middle of this food, you’ll find kind of peanut, like pistachio or hazelnut.

At the past, lokum only made for Sultan and his royal family. Right now, lokum sold ever where in Turkish as food souvenir. Lokum usually served as guest welcoming food at the door. In USA you’ll find fruit bars, seems like lokum, but with fruit taste.

The opening dish or hors d’oeuvres in Turkish called mezes. The famous mezes is humus, porridge from chickpeas, deliciously salty. Other mezes seem like baba ganoush in Lebanon, but in Turkish, it called gozlemedi. Gozlemedi is eggplant porridge cooked with yoghurt.

Dolma is kind of mezes too. Beside Turkish, you’ll find dolma in Greece, Israel, and other Middle East countries. Dolma is spices cooked rice, mixed with pesto (pine nut), wrapped with grape leaves, steam and served cold with sliced lemon. Another mezes is goat brains cooked with lemon juice.

Usually, guest took 4-5 mezes, eaten with kind of bread, served with Turkish red wine. This tradition seems like in Korea, opening dish eaten with shoju.

As an example, main dish in Turkish is shish kebab, the most popular food from Turkish and become signature dish for Turkish. Beside shish kebab, there is doner kebab too, but doner kebab often guessed as Greece special food, named gyros. Shish kebab seems like sate/satay (meat with skewer, special food in Indonesia), cubic shaped meat, skewer with chopped vegetables and fruit, like paprika, Bombay onion, pineapple, tomato. Before roasted and skewer, cubic chopped meat had to marinate in yoghurt and spices liquid. Shish kebab served with pilaf cooked rice.

Doner kebab made from thin sliced meat, heaped, and skewer, roasted vertical. Skewer turning when roasted, so tat cooking method called gyros (turning) in Greece language. Roasted meat chopped and served with bread and vegetables.

Other popular meat food is kofteatau, spherical croquette made from chopped meat mixed with minced Bombay onion and other spices. Kofteatau can be frying, boiling, or roasting. Kofteatau named appropriate with the shape and cooking method. For example there is kadin budu name, means woman’s thigh. Funny name, but also abused. Food from chicken meat, for example is pilic topkapialias. This is stuffed chicken.

Turkish desert also have a lot of varian. The most popular dessert is baklava, flaky pastry, very sweet, contains varians of peanut. Baklava also appearance in several kind of shapes and contains, so the name. There are several names like sultan, saray, and…..woman’s navel………….oh my god!!! Beside baklava, there is ekmek kadayifi (sweet bread dessert), not as sweet as baklava.

Another dessert is sutlac, rice porridge with milk. Sutlac like Javanese porridge, made from rice and santan (squeezed coconut milk). The different: Javanese porridge use sugar coconut or sugar palm and sometimes santan pouring on the porridge. Sutlac made from rice, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Sutlac served cold, Javanese porridge served warm. Sutlac is simple dish, but special. In Turkish this dish sell in muhallebi, kind of food stall. Severals kind of sutlac and Javanese porridge or pudding could be finding in other culture. In Denmark, rice pudding is a part of natal menus, so in Portugal, named arroz doche. Spanish= arroz con leche. In Pakistan and Afganisthan named kheeratau firni (added with pistachio and kapulaga).

Adapted from artcle written by Bondan Winarno, source KOMPAS.


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