What other way is there to arrive in this iconic city than by boat? Bobby Chinn steps straight off the ancient ferry which plies its trade between the Asian and European side of what is one of themost ancient and fascinating cities in the world. He immediately immerses himself in the street life and cuisine of this melting pot of cultures that has gone by many names but, which we know today as Istanbul.
Lying on the banks of the Bosphorus it is rightly described both geographically and spiritually, as the one place on earth where East meets West without a collision. As ever, Bobby is determined to try some of the local fare and his first port of call is a stall selling cooked sheep’s head. True to form, he eats it all – including the eyes and brain. It’s down here in the streets that he meets Hande who runs a local culinary school. She takes him back to her roof terrace overlooking the city and shows him how to cook 2 popular Turkish summer starters which use 2 of the staples of this country: a Cold Yogurt Soup and a Wheat and Parslane Salad.
Next Bobby visits an area called Anavut Couy to check out the amazing old Ottoman architecture as well as three more uniquely Turkish meat dishes. Donner Kebabs, Shish Kebabs and Koftas. Whilst here, he also visits a contemporary Anatolian restaurant to find out how local fusion food looks. Continuing the Ottoman theme, Bobby then travels by tram to the 600 year old, Topkapi Palace, to meet Ottoman expertAlp Kaya, who gives him the rundown on just who the Ottomans actually were. From here he visits famous local chef, Verdat Basheran, who demonstrates an ancient technique of presenting a fish which has boned itself, strange but true… nearly!
Next off, Bobby hitches a lift on a private charter boat out to the Princes Islands, which lie a couple of miles off shore from the Asian side of Istanbul. These beautiful islands, on which motorised transport is banned, have been a haven for all persecuted peoples of all religious persuasions for centuries. It is here, that much to Bobby’s chagrin, his producers have entered him into a local cooking contest. As in most of Turkey, these local cooking contests are extremely popular.
The dish Bobby plans to cook is a local delicacy – but… the competition is tough as his fellow competitors are housewives and grandmothers who have been cooking this all their lives. Thus, he rates his chances of winning slightly less than zero. And he’s right! But, in the chaos that ensues, the boundless hospitality of his hosts wins him over. Bobby continues his trip with a visit to one of the oldest confectioners in Istanbul where he samples the delights of Turkish Delight, in Haci Bekir’s Turkish Delight shop which has been making the stuff for nearly 400 years.
From there, and via, the Turkish coffee stands where he has his fortune told, Bobby visits the spice, cheese and deli centres in the Spice Bazaar where he comes across cheeses matured in goat skin and beef cured under the saddles of nomads. He rounds off his visit to Istanbul with a night time visit to the district of Nevizade and the tapas style mezze restaurants which have been serving these taster plates of food since the tradition was brought back from Persia bySulieman The Magnificent in the mid 1500s.
WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO:
FEATURED IN THE SHOW:
- STUFFED MACKEREL (USKUMRU DOLMASI)
- THE IMAM FAINTED (IMAM BAYILDI)
- WHEAT & PURSLANE SALAD
- COLD YOGHURT SOUP (SOGUK YOGURT ÇORBASI)
STUFFED MACKEREL (USKUMRU DOLMASI)
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 4 mackerel
- 1 onion
- 1 red onion
- ½ bunch parsley
- ¼ bunch mint
- ½ bunch dill
- 1 bunch rocket
- 1 iceberg lettuce
- 1 lemon
- 50g pine nuts
- 50g currants
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 20g flour
- 2 eggs
- 20g bread crumbs
- 1½ cups olive oil
- Snip under the heads of the mackerel with kitchen scissors and remove the gut. Clean the fish in running water.
- Fold over the tail in both directions to break the bone. Massage the fish all over so that the flesh separates from the skin. Then pressing the palms on the fish roll it until the bone separates from the flesh, remove the bones through the fishes’ throats, careful not to tear the skin.
- Now work the flesh out of the mackerel out through the throat, again taking care not to spoil the shape of the fish. Pick off any flesh left on the bone and place on a plate with the rest of the chopped flesh.
- Remove the fish fins with scissors.
- Place the currants in a bowl of water to soak.
- Chop 1 onion finely. Heat ½ cup of oil in a frying pan.
- Sauté the pine nuts until lightly toasted, add the onion and continue to sauté until the onion softens.
- Add the fish flesh and sauté for another couple of minutes.
- Add the drained currants.
- Season with salt, pepper and 2 coriander then remove the pan from the heat.
- Chop the parsley, dill and ½ mint and add to the cooked fish mixture.
- Using a teaspoon stuff the mackerel skins with this mixture.
- Then coat the fish first in the flour, the beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs.
- Fry the fish in the cup of olive oil.
- Cut into slices before serving – this classic Ottoman dish is often served cold with salad.
THE IMAM FAINTED (IMAM BAYILDI)
Ingredients - Serves 4
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 medium onions, diced
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup of water
- Use a vegetable peeler to make zebra-like stripes about an inch apart on the eggplants. Then cut each eggplant in half lengthwise and sprinkle with salt to extract the bitter juices. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the onions and garlic over a medium flame until translucent and softened. Add the tomatoes and let them cook down for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Set to one side.
- Take the salted eggplants, rinse and pat dry. Cut side up, place in a baking tray. Top each half with the onion and tomato mixture. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the eggplants. Pour the cup of water into the base of the baking tray in order to keep everything moist. Cover the tray with foil and place in the oven.
- Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C. Cook for 40 – 50 minutes, until the eggplant is tender.
- Best served at room temperature, with a dollop of yoghurt.
WHEAT & PURSLANE SALAD
Ingredients- Serves 4
- 2 cups wheat, boiled
- 2 large handfuls of Purslane, cleaned and stems removed
- handful of various fresh green herbs, chopped
- 2 capsicum peppers (one raw, one roasted), julienned
- 1 white onion, chopped
- For the garnish
- ½ pickled red onion
- 250g white Turkish cheese (feta or similar), crumbled
- For the dressing:
- couple of glugs of olive oil
- lemon juice
- lemon zest
- pomegranate molasses, to taste
- 1. Slice the onion and mix with salt, sugar and white wine vinegar. Set aside to rest.
- 2. Mix together the wheat with the chopped herbs and the half of the dressing.
- 3. Add the remaining dressing to the purslane, fresh onions, and capsicum peppers (raw and roasted) and mix.
- 4. Toss together the wheat mix and purslane mix and garnish with the pickled red onions and crumbled white cheese.
COLD YOGHURT SOUP (SOGUK YOGURT ÇORBASI)
Ingredients - Serves 4
- ½ tsp saffron
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup wheat, boiled
- 2 cups yoghurt
- ½ cup chickpeas, boiled
- ½ tbsp. dried mint
- salt (to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- vinegar (to taste)
- Pour the vegetable stock into a mixing bowl.
- In a bowl whisk the yoghurt, stock, vinegar mint, salt and pepper.
- Add the boiled wheat and chickpeas into the soup.
Places Mentioned - TurkeyShare the series