By Justin Mays:
Although Istanbul has experienced some days with typical spring temperatures in recent weeks, it looks like winter has already arrived in the metropolis. Some forecasts say that the city will record its first snowfall before the end of the year, but no one can’t certainly promise that. What we do know is that, with these temperatures, what most people want to do is to take shelter from the cold and hide in a cozy place, with good company and something tasty to drink or eat.
Turkey has always been a country linked to gastronomy. It is a cuisine well known for the use of spices, the way meat is cooked, and some sweets, such as baklava. Due to its geographical position, Turkish gastronomy is one of the most popular in the Mediterranean area, along with Spanish, Italian, and Greek. And it is no longer only the food itself, but also the drink. Turkey is famous for coffee, tea, and rakı, among many others.
Now that the temperatures have dropped and residents are preparing to start the winter, there are some typical winter dishes and drinks that return to the tables of all the houses and restaurants. If you don't want to miss them, here are five Turkish delights you must try in the coming months. We hope you like them!
Salep is a typical winter drink in Turkey. It is prepared with wild orchid tubers that have been cultivated in Anatolia, and it also contains milk, sugar, and cinnamon. It is a sweet and thick drink, so many recommend not combining it with other sweets or copious meals. Salep is a hot drink and is popular for the characteristic cinnamon flavor it leaves after drinking it.
Being a winter drink, it's not that easy to find in Istanbul, but we recommend you try the salep they serve in Karaköy Murat Muhallebicisi.
If you like sweets, you will love the following proposal. Kabak tatlısı is a typical Turkish dessert that is cooked with pumpkin and that, like salep, is usually consumed during the coldest months of the year. To cook it, first, it is necessary to cook the peeled and chopped pumpkin in water. Next, you need to cook it with sugar, to get a syrup flavor. Once achieved, the dish is decorated with crumbled hazelnuts, and it is ready to be eaten. Keep in mind that, if you prefer, you can do these processes in the oven, instead of boiling the pumpkin.
If you are in Istanbul and want to try this dessert, we recommend going to Çiya restaurant, located in Kadıköy.
We're back with another drink! Boza is a famous Ottoman drink that began to be consumed in the 17th century. According to legend, in the past, during winter nights, boza sellers used to sell this drink on the street. It is made from fermented wheat and is usually served with cinnamon sprinkled on top. It contains corn grits, water, and sugar. According to experts, it is a rich source of vitamins A, B, and E.
Apart from Turkey, this drink is also consumed in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia. If you are in Istanbul, you can try the boza in Vefa Bozacısı, a place famous for serving this drink since 1876 and located in Fatih.
Ayva tatlısı is a dessert similar to the Kabak tatlısı that we have mentioned above. It is a traditional dessert of Turkish cuisine and it is prepared mainly in winter. To prepare this dessert it is necessary to cook peeled quinces in water, and then mix them with sugar. As with the pumpkin dessert, the Ayva tatlısı can also be prepared in the oven.
In Istanbul, we recommend you try this sweet at Sakarya Tatlıcısı, a place located in Beyoğlu, where you will also find a wide variety of typical Turkish desserts.
And finally, what you cannot miss this winter is Tarhana çorbası, a hot soup made from a mixture of cereal grains and yogurt or fermented milk. This dish can also include vegetables, such as onions, green peppers, or tomatoes, and some spices, such as laurel, thyme, or fennel, among others. It is a typical Central Asian dish, but also popular in the Middle East and the Balkans.
If you want to try this soup in Istanbul, we recommend you do it at Neolokal, a Michelin-star restaurant located in Karakoy. This restaurant is known for cooking typical Turkish recipes but with a contemporary twist.
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