Istanbul Cult Recipes, written by Pomme Larmoyer, features the some of the best of the diverse and ancient cuisine found in Istanbul, Turkey. Highlights include Zeytinyağlı Pırasa (Leeks in Olive Oil), Pistachio Kadayif, Tavuk Çorbası (Chicken Soup), Ispanak Pirinçleme (Spinach with Rice), Sucuklu Yumurta (Fried Eggs and Sucuk), and Adana Kebab (Spicy Mutton Kebabs). I will also be sharing a recipe for the Islak Burger following the review. Looking for more cult recipes? Check out my review for Los Angeles Cult Recipes.
Disclosure: 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.
“Author Pomme Larmoyer is a food writer, editor, and traveller. She believes you can learn everything you need to know about a country from its kitchens and enjoys talking with other people from other cultures about their style of food.”
Istanbul Cult Recipes
The chapters are divided according to the following: At the Kahvalti Salonu (Breakfast); The Meyhane Table (Meze and Fish); Lokanta, Köfteci, Kebabci (Soups, Meats and Rice); At Home (Family Recipes); Street Food; and Turkish Delights (Sweet Things). The end of the book also has a recipe index for easy reference and an additional index divided by ingredient.
Along with the wonderful collection of recipes, Pomme gives the reader a closer look into culture behind the food of Istanbul and favorite stops in its neighborhoods. Each chapter has a map highlighting restaurants, markets, and other areas of interest within the city. You will even learn about local chefs and their food.
The photography is provided by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle with illustrations by Zeina Abirached and styling by Sabrina Fauda-Rôle. Every single recipe is accompanied by a quarter to full-size photo of the finished dish. A handful of step-by-step photos help demonstrate techniques such as making Lokum (Mastic Turkish Delight) and Baklava. I particularly enjoyed the beautiful pictures of the local food, people, and scenery. The titles are written in English and Turkish. Measurements are listed in US Customary.
This book is a great pick for those interested in the food of Istanbul and Turkey. Recipes range from incredibly easy with only a handful of ingredients to the more intricate homemade dumplings, breads, and long simmering stews. Having a market nearby with Turkish or Middle Eastern ingredients will be helpful for locating items such as pul biber, beyaz peynir (Turkish white cheese), Turkish yogurt, fine burghul, Tatlı Biber Salçası (mild Turkish chili paste), kadayif, sucuk, mastic gum, tahini, quince, orchid powder, vermicelli noodles, sour cherries, black sesame seeds, pomegranate molasses, and pekmez (grape molasses). Substitutes are provided when available. Completely new to Turkish ingredients? Luckily, Pomme has included a visual guide for some of the more common pantry items at the end of the book with photos of pastries and condiments; grains and pulses; fresh herbs; dried herbs and spices; tea, coffee, raki; dairy products; vegetables; and dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
I had actually never heard of an Islak Burger before coming across the recipe in this book. This street food may not be the prettiest burger (or the easiest to photograph), but it definitely makes up for all of that in taste. Pomme states that you can find these delicious burgers “day and night in Taksim Square, waiting in their Turkish bath for a passing reveller to sate their ravishing hunger.”
Freshly ground beef is formed into patties, briefly seared on each side, then simmered in a garlicky tomato sauce (if your tomato paste is just too dry, you may need to add a splash of water). Even the buttered hamburger buns are coated in the sauce to soak up every last bit of flavor before forming into the messy, “wet” Islak Burger.
If you want to add a bit of heat to the sauce, mix in a dash or two of mild or hot biber salçası (Turkish chilli paste).
I also made Menemen (Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables), Gavurdağı Salatası (Chopped Salad with Walnuts), Haydari (Garlic Yoghurt), and Mozaik Pasta (No-Bake Chocolate Cake).
Menemen (Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables) is a breakfast staple. Eggs are cooked just until set with onion, green pepper, and tomatoes. For a little extra flavor, add some dried mint or pul biber.
A perfect salad for summer, Gavurdağı Salatası (Chopped Salad with Walnuts) comes together in less than 15 minutes. Diced cucumbers, peppers, spring onions, tomatoes, parsley, and walnuts are tossed together and coated lightly with lemon juice and olive oil.
The Haydari (Garlic Yoghurt) was incredible paired with toasted bread. It only takes 5 minutes to make too! Galric is crushed and mixed with Turkish or Greek-style yogurt and topped with dried mint and a drizzle of olive oil.
This Mozaik Pasta (No-Bake Chocolate Cake) has a base of beaten eggs with sugar, cocoa powder, and optionally chocolate chips. Plain butter cookies are folded into the mixture along with melted butter and milk, then transferred to a loaf pan. The cake is chilled overnight until set and perfect for pairing with coffee.
Islak Burger Recipe
Excerpt from Istanbul Cult Recipes
- 3 garlic cloves
- 150 milliliters (5 fl oz) tomato passata tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 400 grams (14 ounces) minced (ground) beef ask your butcher to do this so that it is as fresh as possible
- 4 round hamburger buns split in half through the middle and lightly buttered
- Crush the garlic with a little salt using a mortar and pestle. Mix together the tomato passata, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the garlic in a large bowl. Season with freshly ground blakc pepper. Set aside.
- Divide the meat into four equal portions and shape into four patties. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, sear the patties quickly on both sides (about 1 minute) in the remaining oil. Pour over the tomato sauce, reduce the heat to very, very low and cook for 5 minutes; the meat needs to become impregnated with the sauce. Push the patties to one side of the frying pan and arrange the bun halves face down on the tomato sauce. Cover and cook for 10 minutes (still over low heat). The buns should be 'wet'- that is the whole idea. To finish, sandwich each patty between two pieces of bun.