Turkish Delights: Stunning Regional Recipes from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, written by John Gregory-Smith, features an incredible assortment of over 100 dishes from throughout Turkey. Popular favorites such as Karides (Shrimp with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Butter), Revani (Semolina Lemon Cake), Granny’s Pilav, Taze Fasulye (Green Beans with Tomatoes and Olive Oil), and Şiş Tavuk (Chicken Shish) are found among the lesser known Charred Samphire with Lemon, Monkfish Kebabs, Grilled Squid with Smoked Eggplant, Arnavut Cigeri (Liver, Onions, and Sumac), and Blackened Cauliflower.
John Gregory-Smith is a chef and food writer with a focus on Turkish cuisine. He is the founder of the online magazine, Eat Travel Live, and is also the author of Mighty Spice Cookbook and Mighty Spice Express Cookbook. He often hosts Turkish pop-ups and secret supper clubs in London.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Kyle Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Chapters are divided based on course: Breakfast, Meze, Pide and Köfte, Kebabs, Salads, Meat, Seafood, Vegetarian, and Desserts.
For those unfamiliar with the area, John includes an illustrated map with the different regions and cities of Turkey highlighted. He discusses the history of the country and how it shaped the cuisine from the Ottoman empire to the beginning of Turkey on October 29th, 1923. I especially love the focus on the favorite foods and variety of ingredients among the regions: The Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Marmara, Southeastern Anatolia and East Anatolia, Aegean, and Mediterranean.
Notable spices, cured meats, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, yogurt, bread/rice/grains, tea and coffee, herbs, nuts, olives and olive oil, and pantry staples are listed in the Essential Ingredients section with descriptions, flavors, uses, and possible substitutes when available.
The beautiful photography is provided by Martin Poole with food styling by Rosie Reynolds and prop styling by Wei Tang. Many of the recipes include a full page photo of the finished dish. There is also some gorgeous scenery of Turkey scattered among the pages. The name of the dish is listed in English and occasionally Turkish. Every recipe includes a headnote with background information and tips. Measurements are provided in US Customary.
This book is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Turkey. Many of the recipes are traditional, but there are also a few adaptations to make the process/ingredients easier for the home cook outside of the region. There is a variety of mezes, salads, seafood, vegetarian, meat, and desserts, but no beverages. Recipes range from simple weeknight meals to a little more complicated. A few ingredients may require the use of an international market featuring Turkish food or purchase online such as pomegranate molasses, tahini, sumac, Turkish pastrami, nigella seeds, samphire, sujuk, red pepper paste, freekeh, and semolina. Personally, I had such a difficult time narrowing down which five recipes to try for the review and can’t wait to make a few more- particularly in the breakfast chapter.
Cevizli Erişte is a Walnut Pasta from Anatolia. In this region, fresh noodles are made from wheat during the summer and stored for the cold winter months. The noodles are cooked until tender and tossed with butter, a stringy cheese, and walnuts. Turkish pepper flakes, dried mint, and black pepper are added for a little spice. It comes together easily for a comforting weeknight meal
The recipe calls for 14 ounces of Tagliatelle. I made homemade pasta using a basic egg dough and rolled it out to the second thinnest setting on a pasta machine. I cut the dough into thick ribbons about 3 inches long and cooked them until just tender.
Traditionally a light, stringy cheese is tossed with the pasta. The exact type varies based on region and John recommends using a stringy mozzarella since it provides the right texture and a mild flavor.
Turkish pepper flakes (Pul Biber) are made from dried red peppers and have a smoky piquant taste. They can be found in Turkish grocery stores or online: Aleppo Turkish Chili Pepper and Marmara All Natural Premium Aleppo Flaked Crushed Red Pepper. If unavailable, substitute with smoked paprika mixed with a little red pepper flakes or a spicy smoked paprika.
I also made the Konya Pide, Fried Halloumi with Herby Salsa, Balli Mahmudiye (Lemon and Apricot Cinnamon Chicken), and Sac Arası (Phyllo Twirls with Walnuts and Cinnamon).
The Pide is a boat-shaped pizza that is perfect for an afternoon snack or light dinner. I made the Konya Pide, named after the town in the central Anatolian region, that is filled with seasoned lamb, tomato, and butter, but there are plenty of other flavors to choose from: Kıymalı Pide (Black Sea Pide), Kayseri Pide (Pastrami and Egg Pide), Sujuk Pide, Spinach Pide, and Chicken Artichoke Olive Pide. The Pide dough was easy to make and stretch out into the desired long shape with lightly pinched sides over the filling. It is baked in a hot oven until the filling is cooked through and the crust is golden before serving with lemon and fresh parsley.
The Fried Halloumi with Herby Salsa is a light and refreshing snack. Fried pieces of halloumi are served straight out of the pan with a topping of chopped tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses. It was also very easy to make and took less than 30 minutes.
Balli Mahmudiye comes from the Ottoman capital of Bursa. It was named after Sultan Mahmud and was made for celebrations and opulent dinner parties. This version has been toned down from its historically long ingredient list, but still creates an incredibly flavorful meal. Orzo pasta is topped with herbs, chicken, apricots, almonds, and a light cinnamon-scented lemon sauce.
Sac Arası is a pastry made with phyllo wrapped around a sweetened walnut filling, formed into a spiral, and drenched in a sweet, sticky syrup. John’s version is a bit lightened with less sugar in the filling and topping. I loved the bright citrus flavor added to the top from the orange zest and the sprinkling of ground cinnamon.
Cevizli Erişte (Turkish Walnut Pasta)
Adapted from Turkish Delights
14 ounces tagliatelle pasta
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Scant 1 cup grated mozzarella
3/4 cup walnuts, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Turkish pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
Sea salt to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt and add the pasta. Cook until just al dente, barely tender. Drain and return to the pot.
Toss the pasta with the butter, mozzarella, walnuts, black pepper, Turkish pepper, mint, and salt to taste until well combined. Serve immediately.