Anatolia: Adventures in Turkish Eating, written by Somer Sivrioğlu and David Dale, features a vast range of Turkish cooking from traditional to modern, street food to grand banquets, with over 100 recipes and captivating stories. A few highlights include Traditional Pistachio Baklava, Samsun Pide (Pide with Four Cheeses), Perdeli Pilav (Veiled Rice), Simit (Sesame Rings), Keşkül (Palace Pudding), and Midye Dolma (Street Hawker’s Stuffed Mussels). I will also be sharing their recipe for Badem Ezmesi (Bebek Almond Truffles) following the review.
Disclosure and Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Murdoch Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. This recipe includes hazelnut liqueur and is intended only for those over the age of 21 (in the United States). Consume alcoholic beverages at your own risk and liability. Please drink/eat responsibly.
Somer Sivrioğlu and David Dale
Somer Sivrioğlu grew up in Istanbul and moved to Australia at the age of 25. He is now the chef/owner of Efendy and Anason in Sydney and a judge on Masterchef Turkey.
David Dale is a writer, broadcaster, and editor. He teaches media at the University of New South Wales and is also the author of The Obsessive Traveller: or Why I don’t steal Towels from Great Hotels Anymore, The Little Book of Australia, The Art of Pasta, and Coastline (find my review here).
Chapters are divided based on time of day: Breakfast (Light Starts & Banquets), Lunch (Casual & Regional), Afternoon Tea (Puddings, Baklavas & Sweets), Meze (Small Plates to Drink with), and Dinner (Traditions & Innovations).
Anatolia isn’t only a source for fantastic recipes. Somer and David have included so much of the history and food culture in the book as well. They begin with an introduction of Anatolia from the first use of the term written on clay tablets 4,300 years ago to the Hittite Empire, creation of Byzantion (Byzantium, then Constantinople, and now Istanbul), outside influences over the years, and present day Türkiye.
Not only does Somer talk about favorite ingredients and how to use them, but he also shares memorable stories and their importance in the cuisine. I love the little tidbits scattered throughout such as the history of winemaking in the region and how to make and order Türk kahvesi (Turkish coffee). For those new to Turkish cooking, the Turkish pronunciation chart, map of Turkey and how cooking differs among the regions, and detailed guide to techniques are particularly helpful. Planning on visiting Istanbul? Somer has also prepared a guide of his favorite restaurants and places.
The photography is provided by Bree Hutchins with styling by Michelle Noerianto. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully styled, full-page photo of the finished dish. You will also find gorgeous photography featuring the local scenery, people, and food. Measurements are listed in Metric and US Customary. Titles are written in Turkish and English. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, tips, and serving size.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Turkish cuisine. There is such an incredible range of recipes from breakfast and lunch to afternoon tea, meze, dinner, and dessert. Many of the dishes come together easily while others require more intricate techniques or have longer resting times. Having a Turkish or Middle Eastern market will be helpful in locating items such as sumac, yufka, beef pastırma, grape molasses, tahini, mastic, rice flour, currants, saffron, orange blossom water, pearl barley, sour cherries, Kadayıf, and dark soy sauce.
Badem Ezmesi (Bebek Almond Truffles)
This recipe for Badem Ezmesi (Bebek Almond Truffles) is modeled after the confections found at Meşhur Bebek Badem Ezmesi (Famous Bebek Almond Paste) in Istanbul’s historic Bebek suburb on the European side of the Bosphorus.
A simple syrup flavored with lemon juice and orange blossom water is kneaded into blanched almonds along with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) to form a smooth, slightly sticky paste. The marzipan is divided into 10 walnut-sized balls and coated in cocoa powder to serve. This is quite the delicious treat for almond lovers and the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea.
If you are avoiding alcohol, simply omit the hazelnut liqueur.
Orange blossom water (orange flower water) is made by distilling fresh bitter orange flowers. It is often used (in small quantities) in Middle Eastern and French cuisines to flavor cakes, pastries, and other desserts. It adds a floral and slightly bitter taste. I have seen it in the spice section of larger supermarkets next to the extracts. It can also be found in markets featuring Middle Eastern ingredients or on Amazon: single and four pack.
I also made Tirnakli Pide (Finger Pide), Kuymak (Black Sea Fondue), Papara (Grandma’s Bread and Beef Stew), and Şekerpare (Semolina Domes).
Tirnakli Pide (Finger Pide) was a fun bread to make with the kids. After forming the yeast-based dough and allowing it to rest, it is divided and shaped into thin rounds and decorated on the top using fingers coated in a yogurt mixture. The formed bread is baked in a hot oven until browned and served warm as a part of a breakfast spread.
The Kuymak (Black Sea Fondue) is a specialty of the Laz people along the Black Sea in northern Anatolia. Shredded cheese is mixed into a cornmeal base until creamy and served hot topped with paprika alongside pide for dipping.
The Papara (Grandma’s Bread and Beef Stew) is the perfect way to use up leftovers. Somer learned about this dish from his grandmother who lived through two world wars, three military coups, and raised three children alone. Ground meat is sautéed with onion, then simmered in a stock with tomato paste before mixing in stale cubed bread. It is served with thickened yogurt seasoned with garlic and spiced butter.
My Şekerpare (Semolina Domes) didn’t turn out quite as pretty as the photo, but still tasted incredible. Translating to “piece of sugar” in old Turkish, these light semolina-based pastries are topped with a blanched almond, baked until golden, then coated in a lemony sugar syrup while still hot.
Badem Ezmesi (Bebek Almond Truffles) Recipe
Excerpt from Anatolia
Badem Ezmesi (Bebek Almond Truffles)
- 50 ml (1 3/4 fl oz) water
- 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 4 drops lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
- 150 grams (5 1/2 ounces, 1 cup) blanched almonds
- 1 tablespoon Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur
- 50 grams (1 3/4 ounce) dark cocoa powder
- Bring 50 ml (1 3/4 fl oz) water to a boil over high heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add the lemon juice and the orange blossom water.
- Put the almonds in a mixing bowl and gradually add the syrup, in four batches, pounding the mixture with a wooden spoon each time. Add the Fragelico and then knead the mixture for 5 minutes, until a smooth paste forms.
- Roll the truffles into about ten walnut-sized balls, coat with cocoa powder and serve.