Gaziantep has been home to same of the oldest civilizations in the world. Owing to this heritage and the wide variety of foodstuffs available due to its geographical position, the region has developed a unique cuisine with lts own distinctive flavours.
The cuisine of Gaziantep is acknowledged to be the richest in Turkey, and visitors, will savour its fusion of Anatolian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern tastes. The strength of Gaziantep's cooking tradition comes from the land. Local crops, ripened under a strong sun, are further infused with flavour as they cook over the fire's embers, adding delicious depth to the taste. Whether slow-cooked on the range or flame-grilled, Gaziantep's food keeps the taste of the sun and the fire.
In winter, the day usually begins with soup. In the morning at downtown restaurants peopIe have a bowl of beyran, which is much more than just a soup - it is a feast all by itself. slow- cooked meat is shredded, rice sizzled in fat, and the whole lot is doused in meat stock. For those not quite ready for garlicky soup at the start of the day, there is always the option of an Antep- style breakfast. The most popular breakfast items are salads made with various pulses and Iocal olives, sauteed me at, pastries called börek, grape molasses made from the famed Antep grapes, and layers of thick cream skimmed off the Iocal milk when boiled. The piece de resistence of the breakfast table is katmer, an enticing pastry of very thin dough layered with bright green pistachio nuts and thick cream. During Ramadan, expect to see crowds of people enjoying a pre-dawn breakfast of liver kebabs at tables set out on the pavements around the city.
Yogurt dishes are the hidden strength of Gaziantep cuisine, Yogurt is combined with spring crops such as crisp green garlic, tender new broad beans, fresh who le green almonds, or earthy truffles, and with meatbalis in the holiday dish of yuvarlama. Yuvarlama is one of the most special Antep dishes, made with tiny meatballs of kneaded rice and meat cooked in yogurt. Spices in sizzling melted butter drizzled over the pure white of the yogurt - coloured yellow by safflower, green by mint or red by pepper depending on the dish - add a pleasingly festive final touch to the meal.
In rich and varied stews, fruit is as likely an ingredient as seasonal vegetables. The half-sweet, half-tart taste of fruit makes the perfect foil for the richness of the meat. Every season is marked by adish of a fruit. In winter, tangy fruits such as apples and quinces are indispensable, while green plums take over in spring along with fresh garlic and lettuce as spring vegetables. when the plums are over, wild apricots take their place, and with the coming of summer, sour cherry kebab is thequeen of the meal table. Sun-ripened tomato, aubergine and squash dishes follow..
The end of summer is full of excitement. There is a flurry of activity as winter provisions are prepared ... Coral red peppers, beguiling purple aubergines, mottle-triped emerald green hairy snake cucumbers and ivory haylan squashes are dried. In September, great clusters of multi-hued vegetables that have been dried over the summer appear in Elmacı Market, the riot of colour cturning it into a carnival scene. There is nowhere else that turns winter preparations into such a festival!
Kebabs are the trademark dishes of Antep cuisine. The secret of a good kebab lies in the choice of meat, and in the skill of the chef who prepares it. The heat of the fire brings out the full flavour of the liver, hand-minced and cubed meat all lined up on skewers. Kebabs have very different flavours according to the season. In spring, they are made with copious amounts of green garlic and parsley. These are followed by garlic kebab and later.still by loquat and truffle kebabs. The underground mushrooms known as truffles complement the flavour of the meat.
In summer, the refreshing tastes of spring give way to sun-laden flavours. Suri-ripened toınatoes and aubergines are an essential feature of summer.barbecues. when the sun cools in autumn,the comforting taste of onion kebab makes you forget the impending winter chill. All year round, liver kebabs are a favourite dish both Iate at night and also with early risers .
The name of Gaziantep is synonymous with baklava, but this is far from the only dessert made here. Antep cuisine incorporates many different types of dessert such as milk puddings or fruit syrups, and helva. In fact the list is long, alsa including şöbiyet (pastry with cream filling), bülbül yuvası (nightingale's nest- pastry with nuts and syrup), dolama (a baklava roll), burmalı kadayıf (coiled syrupy pastry strands with pistachios), and zerde made with rice and saffran.
Cooking is an art in Gaziantep, where each dish is crafted to perfection. Gaziantep has at least unique dishes to its name, and invites to its bounteous table those who wish to share in the secrets of this delicious cuisine ...
Ref. Gaziantep Cookery- A Taste of Sun & Fire Editor Aylin Öney Tan
Gaziantep foodie tips
Welcome to the capital of baklava and kebap.
The most popular kebap place is İmam Cagdas (The son Burhan Cagdas is running it). I rather prefer Sirvan. Try as much as you can but do not miss Ali Nazik. Beneath the meat lays smoky aubergine mashed with yogurt. Both are considered as being best places for baklava.
İncili Pinar is for home style cooking. Anali Kızli (odd name, means with daughters and mothers, daughters being the chickpeas, mothers the little semolina balls, all in a soup like a yogurt sauce) another similar dish is Yuvalama; Siveydiz ( the ultimate green garlic dish)
Another good baklava shop is the Güllüoglu in Elmacı Pazarı. It is far more better than the other Güllüoglu branches.
The odd breakfast habit of this town is Beyran. It is a soup, tandoori meat and rice all in one. Very garlicky and delicious. You can have it at Cincik at the new town, Degirmicem Mah. M, Aksoy Bulvarı Gogus Cad. No 51 .Cincik is also good at other local dishes.
or ask for the traditional place Metanet; Kozluca mahallesi. Kozluca caddesi. no: 11
Orkide Pastanesi. This place looks like a western style patisserie but they have good traditional stuff too. Try katmer and have a box of kahke.
Kahke is like a wafer thin biscuit. My favourite is Koylu Kahkesi (means peasant style kahke) It is made with grape molasses, flavoured with spices and studded with flax seeds, nigella etc. Not so sweet, really tasty.
The traditional place for kahke is Aksam Simitcisi
If you know a local who is a member of the Tennis Club ask them to take you there, the food is far better than most places.
While in Antep keep asking for Firik Pilavı and grab your fork when you find it. Frik or firik is greenish unripe wheat smoked in the field. It means green or unripe in Arabic. Likewise jump on anything done with spring garlic. Just the season now.
Your sip of coffee should be in Tahmis Kahvesi close to Elmacı Pazarı.
Latest New Places in Gaziantep
The best new place for baklava is Kocak.
Brothers Coskun & İbrahim Kocak are doing wonders. Apart from baklava, bulbul yuvası is not to miss. They have two places, the newer one has also tables to eat on the spot.
The newest upmarket, traditional dining place is Sahan. It is housed in the newly restored building of Sirehan.
Another good place to have local dishes is Yorem Mutfagı
The city of Gaziantep in the south-east Turkish province of Gaziantep is best known for its highly developed industrial areas and pistachio nuts as well as baklava. Gaziantep is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, it is also the sixth largest city in Turkey and becoming a top destination for foodies. Because of the ancient archaeological sites of Zeugma and the castle fortress of Rumkale there has been extensive archaeological team work done in the area which has provided for a wealth of ancient artifacts and museums to exhibit them.
Gaziantep Archaeology Museum hosts ceramic pieces from Neolithic Age, various objects, figures, seals from the Calcolithic and Bronze Ages, stone and bronze objects, jewellery, ceramics, coins, glass objects from the Urartu, Hittite, Persian, Roman and Byzantine periods. Hasan Suzer Ethnography Museum has the old life style decoration and collections of various weapons, documents, instruments used in the defense of the city as well as the photographs of local resistance heroes. Yesemek Open Air Museum is located in the village known by the same name, close to Islahiye District of Gaziantep. It is the largest open air sculpture workshop in the Near East where the ruins in the area date back to Hittites.The remains of the old city of Belkis (Zeugma) are located in Kavunlu village which is 10 kilometers away from Nizip district of Gaziantep. These remains date back to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times.
Gaziantep Citadel, located in the center of the city, displays the historical past and architectural style of the city. Although the history of the castle is a mystery, as a result of the archaeological excavations conducted there, bronze age settlement layers are thought to exist under the existing surface of the soil. The Emine Göğüş Cuisine Museum Gaziantep, Turkey’s first museum dedicated to cuisine, is situated in a historical stone house in the south-eastern city of Gaziantep. A decade and a half after Ali Göğüş, Turkey’s first tourism minister, bought the house where he was born and donated it to the public on the condition it would be turned into the Emine Göğüş Cuisine Museum, after the minister’s mother. Housed in a stone building constructed in 1904 by Kethüdazade Göğüş İbrahim Efendi. Gaziantep Mayor Asım Güzelbey has plans to turn an old building next to the museum into a cooking school complex which will train chefs and at the same time serve as a restaurant. Gaziantep is known for its culinary specialties – a mix created by Kurdish, Arabic, Assyrian and Turkish influences.
Antakya is a small town with a huge contribution to make situated on the Syrian border and also known as Hatay, its food is an incredible balance of spicy and sweet tastes not found elsewhere in Turkey. Spices and dried fruits are abound in South Eastern Anatolia cooking as it borders Arab countries and because the Ottoman Sultans controlled the Spice Routes.
Established at the end of the fourth century B.C. by one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antakya was later one of the main centers of the Eastern Roman Empire for centuries. The ancient city also played an important role in the early development of Christianity. Later on, with the Arab expansion, the city was destroyed. Thus, Antakya has a rich, diverse and powerful history that is reflected in its special cuisine. Today, the cuisine of Antakya is influenced by and is similar to Lebanese and Syrian cuisine. We are happy to introduce the tastes of this region to people with a zest for culinary interest and exploration.
Throughout history, Antakya ( Antioch) has been the host to a variety of civilizations where different cultures lived together in harmony. Antakya cuisine has been very much influenced by these cultures. Each civilization added to previous flavors leaving us today with an incredibly oppulent cuisine.
Ashir ,the altar meal of the Hittites, is still being served. The influence of Syrian and Lebanese plates can easily be recognized in the rich variety of appetizers( meze). The influence of the Ottoman and the French can also be felt throughout various dishes.
With their worldwide reputation Antakya dishes boast themselves by the unique use ofa variety of spices that singularize their taste even within the Turkish boundaries. Sampling pepper with walnut, humus,thyme salad, green olive salad, is the traditional way to start a meal. Exotic ingredients, hand produced and processed such as pomegranate syrup, salty yogurt,regional extra virgin olive oil, aged goat cheese,red pepper paste contribute to the uniqueness of the meals. Cracked wheat ( bulgur) is widely used in the Antakya cuisine. Many specialties like the Boraniye ( a yoghurt soup), ashir ( a wheat – meat paste combination),Mumbar( oven cooked stuffed sausages ), Oruk ( otherwise famed as Kibbe in the Middle East),as well asa variety of meat and chicken kebabs( which the marinade recipe remains a secret of the Harbiye chefs) are must try dishes if you are in Antakya.
AGED GOAT CHEESE
Curd cheese,milled cumin,cinnamon,pimento,garlic,dried crushed thyme, red pepper are kneaded by adding salt and olive oil.They are rolled after separating them into apple –sized pieces. The pieces are kept in open air for 3-4 days. The dried cheese is covered with a paper and left to get moldy.
The yogurt fermentated from goats milk, is cooked by constant stirring over a wood fire until it reaches a thick texture. This regional yogurt which maintains its freshness for a long time ( a whole winter...)is then diluted for use in soups, vegetable preparations. It is also a delicious breakfast dip when combined with olive oil.
It is obtained by boiling pomegranate juice fora long time. AS the sugar in the juice is caramelized a sweet and sour taste comes out. This delicious syrup is a must on all Antakya tables.
Speaking of desserts the first to come to mind is Kunefe. However semolina cheese halva, and pumpkin dessert are not to be forgotten and for the sweet tooth walnut and eggplant sweet preserves are unbeatable exotic alternatives.
ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER
It is obtained from sour orange blossoms in April. This flower juice which is produced through distillation is simply known as orange blossom water. It is used after meals into a hot drink to ease digestion.
For the majority of travelers, Turkey is the country of kebabs. That is obviously not a completely wrong perception, as the country offers different types of delicious kebabs. But Turkey also offers so much more for those looking for a culinary journey. The Aegean town of Ayvalık is set to tap into the culinary tourism trend: This seaside town offers not only unique eating but also a combination of healthy and mouth-watering cuisine. With consumer focus on healthy eating in modern times, Ayvalık is equipped with the right ingredient for a healthy diet: olive oil. Typical Ayvalık dishes are made of olive oil. This seems only natural as Ayvalık is surrounded by the oldest olive groves in the country. But Ayvalık’s culinary culture also reflects the social texture of the town. Until the early 20th, century the town had a large Greek population. After the retreat of Greek forces who invaded Aegean provinces following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the Greek population had to leave Ayvalık, as Greece and the young republic of Turkey agreed to a mutual population exchange. Most of the new population that replaced the former Greek community was Turks from Lesbos, Crete and Macedonia. Today, most of the olive oil production in Ayvalık is family business run by the third or fourth generation of those subjected to population exchange. This social texture undoubtedly reflects itself in the province’s cuisine, which is a Turkish-Greek synthesis. The name of some typical Ayvalık dishes reflects this synthesis: Akuvadis, kydonia, papules, papucaki. Fish as well as the vegetables grown especially in the Aegean region are the main ingredients of the typical Ayvalık dishes, which have very little if no spice at all.
The known history of Safranbolu, located near the north western Black Sea coast of Anatolia, in Karabük nearby Zonguldak, dates back as far as 3000 BC.
Once a city of Roman Province of "Paphlagonia", Safranbolu has hosted many civilizations including the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires throughout its history. During the Ottoman era the town served as an important junction on the Kastamonu - Gerede (Bolu)- Istanbul route of the famous silk road. Safranbolu was at the same time a popular residence for Ottoman Royalty close to the Sultan and Grand Viziers.
The city originally took its name from the saffron fields that dotted the area in the 19th century. The powder obtained from its flower is used as a very strong dye. Used in very small quantities, saffron adds a delicate flavor, distinct aroma and a very unique color to desserts and other foods. Today, saffron fields abound in a village 20 km away, where a thriving saffron business continues. Also unique in Safranbolu is the famous Çavuş grapes with its extremely thin skin and sweet flavor.
Paphlagonia or Western Black Sea Region has long history expanding to Pre-Hittite period. After been dominated by empires like, Persians and Romans it was captured by Turkic Selchukis and later Ottomans. Local and Turkic nomadic cuisines brought many colors to Safranbolu cuisine. Black Sea Region with forests, high plateaus and having long seashore provides various materials like wild mushrooms, primitive wheat, hunt animals as well as the famous spice saffron. Paphlagonian feasts vary in seasons, fresh from the villagers’ bazaar. The feast is served at an award winner Ottoman Mansion.Guests may join preparing at modern and traditional kitchens where flat breads, wild wheat (farro) pilaf and turkey stew served on walnut stuffed boreks, saffron pudding are made.
In addition to its history and houses, Safranbolu's nature is also beautiful. The natural beauties to be found including forests, pastures, canyons and caverns. Different altitudes create variety in climate and plants while making the place perfect for nature sports such as jogging, trekking and biking. Dense forests and heights allow for the formation of pastures. Local geological formations created deep and long canyons and caverns that are several kilometers long. Safranbolu was placed in the world Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO in appreciation of the successful efforts in the preservation of its heritage as a whole. Safranbolu has deserved its real name for its houses.
13 km away from Safranbolu, this museum-like village that can only be reached by car or taxi. The village is under protection and the houses and konaks (mansions) are all well preserved. The village was founded by an Oğuz Turk tribe, and its oldest wooden house is 450 years old while its newest one is still 90 years old.