Get familiar with the taste of Turkish cuisine
"Turkish cuisine share uncountable similarities with Indian food and that's what makes it lovable in India," says Chef Ibrahim Karakoc from Shangri-La, Istanbul, who paved his way to India to be part of 'Turkish Indulgence'– a festival showcasing Ottoman cuisine.
Organised by Shangri-La's Eros hotel, New Delhi, the festival is a perfect summer treat for you. Moreover, if you are like me and consider chicken as the standard menu offering, 'Turkish Indulgence' would absolutely fascinate you as it offers an array of appetizers, salads, and dessert.
Surely you can nibble on 'Saksuka'– eggplant salad with peppers and sauce, or the 'Cerkez Tavugu'– shredded chicken prepared with Tahini and lemon juice. But my vote would go to 'Yogurtlu Semizotu Salatasi'– Purslane salad made in combination with yogurt; believe me, it will evoke your taste buds.
"The Ottoman cuisine is largely influenced by Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Western European cuisine, that's the reason we find different food elements and culinary traditions from neighbouring countries fusing together," stated the Chef, who believes that modifying the food according to Indian taste would take away its original essence.
"Indians are well traveled these days and are aware of the traditional cuisines. They are familiar with dishes like 'Shawarma', Kebabs and Stew and hence, manipulating the taste of Turkish food for whatsoever reason would be unfair," he further added.
Under the entree section, each of the dishes is packed with flavours and textures, yet there is a lightness to it, without heavy saucing. I dug my spoon in 'Cauliflower, carrot and Mushroom stew', 'Grilled seabass with red pepper and cream sauce', 'Oven roasted potatoes and chicken steak with tomato and pepper sauce' and of course 'the Turkish vermicelli rice'. One bite was enough to judge that Chef Ibrahim's kitchen boasts of being as rich in flavours as the history of its lands. The secret behind strong flavours in their food is the use of fresh spices that include dry mint, chili flakes, oregano and paprika powder. But what I personally liked was the Vermicelli rice with a subtle taste of salt, pepper, and butter.
Owing to the easy availability of lamb and seafood in Turkey, you would find never-ending options for the non-vegetarians. But keeping in mind the equal number of vegans dwelling in India, meat has been substituted with cabbage and rice in dishes like Manti – a traditional entree served with tomato sauce, yogurt and chili butter.
If the talks are around Turkish cuisine, you cannot miss grabbing a bite of 'Pistachia and lamb swekers'. But against my expectations, swekers – a little under cooked as per me, didn't please my taste buds as much as it pleased my eyes. Anyway...It was time to move on to the desserts. Garnished with almonds and Pistachip flakes, 'Gullac', 'Baklava' and 'Sekerpare' absolutely look tempting can be a good pick for your sweet tooth.
Since it's last day of the festival, hurry up and get familiar with the taste of traditional Turkish cuisine.