Having a friend living in Istanbul does make the travelling a lot easier. No language barriers, transportation issues etc and best of all, I get homecooked meals occasionally too! We actually didn’t have much opportunities to eat at home as there was so much to discover outside. But when we did, it was delightful…
This was my first breakfast in Istanbul. As soon as I stepped off the plane, we got back and after I freshened up, this was already waiting for me on the table. This is considered the typical Turkish breakfast, with an array of cheeses, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers & olives, hard boiled eggs and freshly baked bread.
For dinner one day we had sucuk or Turkish sausage. Usually eaten during breakfast with eggs, we decided to just pan fry it and have it with our bread. It’s a bit spicy, like a chorizo sausage and a little chewy. I do like it as it reminds me a bit of Taiwanese sausages, but the halal type.
During the same dinner I had my first taste of hamsi or Black Sea Anchovy. These anchovies are seasonal and I was lucky that there were still available. Easily cleaned, the hamsi is dipped in cornflour and then pan fried to make hamsi tava. These yummy fishes are then dressed with a squirt of lemon and pop them between bread and voila, you have your own hamsi sandwich!
For another dinner, we had patlıcan karnıyarık, stuffed eggplants with minced meat that were baked. Topped with tomatoes and some fresh yoghurt it was delicious. Tender and soft, and very tasty.
My friend’s neighbours gave us some homecooked Dolma, stuffed dried peppers (Biber Dolması) & eggplants (Patlican Dolması). It was interesting to eat re-hydrated peppers and eggplants though I thought the rice stuffing was a bit on the dry side. But still, I am glad I managed to taste them as I have wondered what they would taste like after seeing strings and strings of them hanging at shops and marketplaces.
Photo by Jennifer Hattam.
The practice of drying eggplants, peppers and even tomatoes during the summer was in preparation for the long winter and this has been done since ancient times. Even though these are readily available throughout the year now, the tradition of salting vegetables and drying them in long strings continue as they believe that dried vegetables retain a distinct flavour. I still like mine fresh though!