Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Apr 2019

Culinary Traditions and Recipes from Turkey

Turkey sits at the crossroad of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Turkish Cookbook offers a culinary tour of this diverse, healthy cuisine. Here, we provide a selection of 4 tempting recipes.

By Musa Dagdeviren.

Culinary Traditions and Recipes from Turkey

A country’s cuisine helps to define its culture. This is especially true of Turkey, a country that in many ways serves as a bridge between the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Musa Dagdeviren has been highlighting Turkey’s vibrant, bold cuisine in his Istanbul restaurants since the 1980s.

Considered the leading authority on Turkey’s unique food traditions, Dagdeviren says his restaurants have gained a reputation as a “culinary wonderland of discovery.” But you don’t have to travel to Turkey to experience the flavor of the region. Dagdeviren has captured the best that Turkey has to offer in his latest book, The Turkish Cookbook (Phaidon 2019).

Full of hearty, healthy cuisine, this book truly celebrates Turkey’s unique blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culinary heritage. But ultimately, The Turkish Cookbook is more than a collection of recipes—it’s a journey deeper into a diverse culture with a rich history.

“There is a strong bond between our culinary culture and traditions,” said Dagdeviren. “Food is a constant link to our heritage.”

Here, Life Extension® highlights a few of the 550 recipes featured in The Turkish Cookbook. The book includes a wide selection of both little-known regional dishes, as well as globally recognized fare such as chicken kebabs, tahini, halva, and tabbouleh.

In addition to providing recipes, Dagdeviren includes an explanation of food rituals and folklore with each dish. After all, understanding the rich history of a dish can help unlock the full flavor embedded in its ingredients.

—Laurie Mathena


What you need to know

Considered the leading authority on Turkey’s unique food traditions, Musa Dagdeviren, author of The Turkish Cookbook says, “There is a strong bond between our culinary culture and traditions.” In his cookbook one will find a carefully cultivated collection of 550 delicious recipes. Full of hearty, healthy cuisine, this book truly celebrates Turkey’s unique blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern culinary heritage.

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

Region: Bolu, all regions

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced into ¼ inch cubes
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced into ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 banana peppers (mild sweet peppers), sliced into crescents
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • ¼ bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ bunch basil, finely chopped
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp grape vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt

Put all the salad ingredients into a large, deep bowl.

To make the dressing:

Mix the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl, then drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss gently and serve.

There is no mention of this popular salad anywhere until the 1950s. Shepherds probably took a few tomatoes and an onion in their sacks to eat for lunch. They smashed the onion, halved the tomatoes and ate them together in a rudimentary salad. City restaurants eventually refined the shepherd’s salad, chopping the ingredients more finely. Some versions omit the olive oil; some add cottage cheese.


Chickpea Salad (Nohut Piyazi)

Chickpea Salad (Nohut Piyazi)

Region: Adiyaman, Southeastern Anatolia

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Cooking time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into crescents
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small, hot, red bell pepper, sliced into crescents
  • 2 sundried tomatoes, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried chili (red pepper) flakes
  • 1 tsp ground sumac
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely sliced
  • 6 fresh basil sprigs, finely sliced

Drain the soaked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), then cook in a saucepan of simmering water until soft, about 1.5 hours. Drain and put the cooked chickpeas into a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and sundried tomatoes and cook for a further minute. Add ½ teaspoon salt, then pour the mixture over the chickpeas and mix gently. Add the cumin, dried chili (red pepper) flakes, sumac, lemon juice, parsley and basil, mix gently and serve.

This is popular street food in the region. Vendors cook the chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in a lamb stock and serve them in this fresh salad. Chickpea rolls are sold in front of bakeries and enjoyed in the early morning in homes and workplaces. This tradition is still strong in Gaziantep,
Sanliurfa and Adiyaman.


COURGETTE FRITTERS (MÜCVER)

COURGETTE FRITTERS (MÜCVER)

Region: Sinop, all regions

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 3⅓ cup courgettes (zucchini)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 fresh garlic clove
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ bunch dill
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 5 eggs
  • ⅓ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 cup olive oil, for frying
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 dill sprig, leaves picked

A summer dish, traditionally made after making stuffed courgettes (zucchini), so that the leftover courgette flesh does not go to waste. Some versions add 50 g/2 oz feta cheese to the recipe below.

Peel the courgettes (zucchini) and grate into a bowl. Finely slice the onion, spring onions (scallions), garlic, parsley and dill. Add to the courgette flesh. Add the dried mint, then season with ¼ teaspoon black pepper and ½ teaspoon salt. Knead for 3 minutes, until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and flour. Add the whisked egg mixture to the other ingredients and knead for a further 2 minutes to combine.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat to 155°C/310°F. Place ¼ cup of the fritter mixture into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to remove and place on paper towels while you prepare the rest, until all of the mixture is used up.

To make the sauce: Mix the yogurt and garlic in a separate bowl, then season with ¼ teaspoon salt and garnish with dill. Arrange the fritters on a platter and serve with the yogurt sauce.


Hummus (Humus)

Hummus (Humus)

Region: Mersin, all regions

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Cooking time: about 11 hours
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ⅛ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp ground sumac
  • 1 tsp dried chili (red pepper) flakes
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Drain the soaked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), then cook in a pan of simmering water until soft, about 11 hours. Drain and let cool, then remove the skins.

Mash the chickpeas with the crushed garlic, cumin and 1 teaspoon of salt, either with a fork or in a food processor.

In a separate bowl, whisk the tahini, sesame oil and lemon juice, then add to the chickpea mash gradually, making sure all is smooth and well combined. If you prefer a runnier consistency, add a small amount of water to loosen the hummus.

Divide among serving plates, sprinkle with sumac, dried chili (red pepper) flakes and parsley, then drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Some local versions add butter, and some add pastırma (cured beef).

The Turkish Cookbook

If you have any questions on the scientific
content of this article, please call a Life Extension®
Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

Reprinted with permission from
The Turkish Cookbook (Phaidon 2019).

The Turkish Cookbook,
scheduled for release on
April 1, 2019, is available from
bookstores and online retailers.

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