Turkish Style Cucumber And Parsley Salad
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 to 4 Persian cucumbers, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 to 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Transfer the parsley, cucumbers and green onions to a medium bowl. Add the salt, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Mix well and serve!
Turkish Style Lentil Soup
Yummy lentil soup for meatless Monday!!
- 1 tablespoon butter or extra light olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- ½ cup red lentils, washed
- 1 small potato, peeled and cut in half inch squares
- 2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Fresh lemon juice
Heat a medium saucepan with the oil. Add the onion, ground cumin and mint. Saute on medium heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add the lentils, potatoes and broth. Bring to a boil and add the salt and turmeric and simmer on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes adding more broth if necessary. Once the potato chunks are soft, take off the heat and let cool. Transfer to blender and blend till smooth. Pour the liquid back to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the consistency by either adding more broth or cooking off extra broth. Check for seasonings. Squirt some fresh lemon juice right before serving.
Good Bye Istanbul- Final Thoughts…
It was our last day in this beautiful and friendly city as I woke up and couldn’t help thinking how much fun these last eight days have been. It was partly because we traveled in a group with family, partly because of the sights, food, once in a lifetime experience of hot air ballooning, but mostly because of the hospitable and friendly Turkish people. The people in Istanbul were super nice but the people in Cappadocia were gracious and genuinely kind- the way I have never experienced before- I guess that is why I didn’t feel like leaving Turkey. Usually when we go away on vacation, I am happy to come back home after about a week- but this time was very different- I was sad to leave. I will cherish these wonderful memories for a very long time to come and look forward to going back and enjoying the amazing mix of east and west again some day.
For any of you out there thinking of going to Turkey, I would highly, highly recommend it.
Istanbul Day 5- Hello Again!
It was the last full day in Istanbul and we wanted to make the most of it. It started off with a sumptuous breakfast buffet and lots of chatter with the family. We were meeting up with some other family members during the day making us a total of nine people! We decided to meet in Taksim square, which is in the new part of Istanbul. It was a beautiful day and we were excited to explore the city one last time. As we met, we realized it was going to be very hard to plan the day with so many people and opinions- so we decided to just start walking towards the old town. We must have only walked for about 20 minutes when we saw a restaurant/café with very inviting couches outside. We decided to take a break for some fresh pomegranate juice, etc. As we sat down, we noticed the café also had different flavors of hukka or water pipes. We decided to order one and share. We ordered the rose flavor and watched the waiter set it up for us. We all slowly inhaled the wet, cold smoke enjoying the rose flavor.
We started off again, walking by the water and found a vendor selling fresh mussels. I wanted to have them one more time and so I asked for 4 mussels. He also had pickled hot peppers- they were delicious with the mussels! We ended up having 10! Satisfied we walked further and saw a vendor selling halwa. It is made with semolina in India but in Turkey, halwa is made with sesame seeds as well as semolina. This vendor was selling un helvasi – the semolina variety. Well, we had to stop and have some! We ordered two cups, one with ice cream and one without- both were outrageously delicious!
We continued walking toward to old town and now found ourselves back to the area concentrated with street vendors- same as day 2. We found the same doughnut vendor and enjoyed some. We also drank Turkish lemonade infused with mint! As you can imagine, we were quite full- so we walked over to the spice market and did some shopping. After a few hours, some of us sat in a café and the rest of us hiked up to a local mosque- by then, it was well into the evening and everyone was confused about dinner plans- as most of us were quite full. After meeting back in the café, I noticed across the cobblestoned street, there was a little roadside restaurant selling fried sardines! I had to try them- and I did. They were covered in some kind of breading, fried and served with a parsley and cucumber salad. There was bread on the table with the pickled hot peppers. They were by far the best sardines I have ever had- small, tender, crispy and delicious! As we walked ahead, may be just 50 steps, we saw another road side restaurant serving rotisserie chicken legs and wings on hot coals.
We decided to order one platter as most of us were quite full- well, that one platter led to another one. It also led to 3 adana kebab platters and a few rolls. We couldn’t believe how yummy the food was and how much we all ate. We enjoyed the traditional Ayran– which is a lightly salted yogurt drink (lassi). The owner sent us a few plates of complimentary halwa- we quickly devoured them not knowing he would send us more! All in all, it was the most fun we all had that day. We decided to walk off some of the food and hiked up hill back to our hotel, tired and very satisfied.
Cappadocia – Day 2
Day six started super early at 5 AM. We got dressed in multiple layers to get ready for a once in a lifetime experience of a hot air balloon over the beautiful Cappadocian landscape. It was all of 34 degrees and we were all a bit scared of how cold it was going to be up in the balloon. We were picked up by the balloon company and taken to a restaurant type of place with lots of other people waiting in the dark. They were serving a light breakfast consisting of coffee, cherry juice, bread and pastries. We quickly had a few bites to eat and got back into their van and made our way to an open field where our balloon was being blown up. In about ten minutes we were on our way up as was the sun! It was the most spectacular views of the rock formations all around us. It was gentle, peaceful and one of the most unforgettable experiences we have had!
After an hour we were back on the ground and enjoying some cake and champagne! We headed back to our hotel, had breakfast, packed and left to explore some more before our flight back to Istanbul. After a few hours of exploring, we made our way back to Urgup town to enjoy our last meal in Cappadocia. We headed to a small, modest restaurant serving all sorts of kebab! We ordered a variety of kebabs including a beef doner kebab platter, a kuvarma platter-which was cut up beef pieces, perfectly marinated and cooked with slightly spicy green peppers. It was served with tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and a bit of rice- it was delicious. After the yummy lunch we ordered rice pudding with a dollop of cream and a vermicelli pudding filled with cheese and served with ice cream- both were really tasty but for me the rice pudding took the cake! The cream took it to the next level- yum!
Soon it was time to leave and head to the airport. I will never forget our visit to Cappadocia- it has been an amazing variety of delicious food, exotic spices, yummy wine, the most amazing desserts and most important of all- the most hospitable and friendly people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting!
Cappadocia – Day 1
This trip to Turkey has been absolutely delightful. Not only is it a great place to visit as far as sights are concerned, it is also a great place for food.. the wine is yummy and very importantly, the people are very friendly and helpful.
Day five or day one in Cappadocia started with a yummy breakfast filled with coffee, cheeses, fruit and eggs. We got in our car and headed to an open air museum on Goreme consisting of amazing landscape filled with rocks and churches carved in. It was an amazing experience visiting this place. After a lot of walking, hiking and stopping for Turkish ice cream, we headed to the town of Goreme for some late lunch. We found a restaurant called Old Cappadocia Cafe. It was a great place to sit outside and enjoy the sun and good weather. We started with the most delicious Turkish lavash with some tomato spread and a yogurt and mint spread.
We proceeded to order lamb chops, small raviolis in a yogurt garlic sauce and some beef kebabs.
With our stomachs full of good food and wine, we went for a long drive taking in all the beautiful landscape all around us. We stopped at a huge rug warehouse and bought some beautiful rah rah kilims. We then came back to our hotel and explored the town of Urgup, which was beautiful and quaint. We did some more shopping and realized just how friendly the people were!
It was time to have a snack consisting of some kebabs and lots of dessert. We proceeded to a dessert place and got a variety. We went back to our hotel, very happy and looking forward to our hot balloon ride tomorrow early morning!!!
Istanbul Day 4- Goodbye to Sultanahmet & Hello to Cappadocia
Day four was our last day in Sultanahmet which is the old part of Istanbul. We were to leave for Cappadocia later in the afternoon- so we had a few hours to roam around and do some shopping/eating. As we were researching for the restaurant from last night, we came upon a doner kebab place which was reviewed as the ‘best doner kebab in Sutanahmet’- well, we were sold. We decided to eat a relatively light breakfast and headed to the Grand Bazaar. We did some jewelry and shawl shopping- after which we looked for the place that didn’t have an address- just some directions posted online. We found it quite easily and noticed it was in one of the windy, cobblestoned streets- very quaint! It was one of the oldest restaurants there- well, actually it was not even a restaurant (Donerci Sahin Usta)
– it was just a store front where people were lined up. We ordered two doner kebabs rolled in lavash. I noticed a jar of green, pickled peppers and asked them to add the delicious chilies to one of them. The kebab roll was delicious- the meat was tender and flavorful and the condiments including the chilies were lovely. We were quite satisfied and walked away and turned a corner. Right in front of us was another restaurant- this one was much bigger with people sitting outside under an awning. They had condiments sitting in front of them including some spices and the same chilies. The kebabs here were made with beef instead of lamb.
We decided to try these as well… these were yum as well!! We were quite satisfied with our finds and headed back to the hotel- but not before another glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice!
An hour on the plane brought us to Kayseri where we rented a car for our next destination- Cappadocia! We looked forward to the hot air balloon there and any regional cuisine we can sample!
We arrived in Cappadocia and checked into our beautiful cave hotel. We quickly unpacked and walked to a restaurant called Dimrit. On our way there, we passed a winery- we will definitely be visiting it tomorrow!! At the restaurant we ordered kebabs cooked in a clay pot- they were delicious.
All in all the meal was delicious- I had a yummy glass of wine as well. I am really looking forward all the food here!!