Whilst I was in Istanbul, I stumbled across simit, a round bagel with sesame seeds. This particular bread is typically eaten plain with a small cup of tea or alternatively, it can be eaten with cheese and tomatoes. Simit are baked daily in all neighborhood bakeries and they are usually sold in two variations, one being savory (the most common one) and the sweet one which is slightly more plump and without any sesame seeds. Simit is also often sold by street vendors which either keep it in a trolley (as above) or over their heads in trays and they usually advertise by shouting, “Gevrek simit, taze simit!” (Crispy simits, fresh simits).
Baklava is the one of the most famous Mediterranean desserts. It is made of layered paper-thin filo pastry sheets with melted butter and nuts after which it is cut into rectangles or diamonds and is baked until golden brown. Afterwards, the baklava is drenched with sweet syrup or honey. In Istanbul, I found many variations some of which are made with pistachos known as fistikli, ones with clotted cream (kaymakli ), ones with chocolate (çikolata) and the traditional ones made with walnuts (cevizli).
One of my favorite places in Istanbul was the Grand Bazaar or Büyük Çarşı. This is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the worlds. Filled with tiny shops selling a variety of different things, from leather goods to Turkish delight. The bazaar covers total of 61 streets and it located in the district of Fatih, attracting roughly about 300,000 visitors daily.
One of the most famous confectionery that Turkey offers is Lokum or most commonly known as Turkish delight. This soft and sugary confection is often eaten with a cup of Turkish coffee and is usually served as a sign of Turkish hospitality. The confection usually comes in a lot of variations including the traditional sugar based type which is made with the flavors of pomegranate, orange, mint, cinnamon, rose and lemon. Other types include the honey based delight which is usually made with nuts and chocolate.
Another amazing place I went to was the Egyptian Bazaar or Mısır Çarşısı which is the second largest bazaar in Istanbul, selling mostly spices as well as other items such as soap and fabric. This place is an ideal for any food blogger to visit. It is here you’ll find numerous spices used in Turkish cuisine as well as other Mediterranean cuisines. One particular ingredient I found was kırmızı biber salçası which is this delicious tomato and chili paste used in salad such as Kisir.
I conclude this post with a beautiful song by Turkish singer, Birsen Tezer entitled ‘Istanbul’……