Hoş geldiniz! Welcome!
It all started when I arrived in Istanbul in the summer of 2015 looking for a change of pace and environment after a decade in London’s financial industry. Having swapped a small flat in East London for a 19th century house in the traditional Istanbul neighbourhood of Balat, I was planning to allow myself the luxury of taking it easy the first few months – settling in, learning the language, that sort of thing. It was also as good a time as any to do what I had been gently nudged by friends for some time to do: share my love of fresh, homebaked bread and colourful food with lots of flavour with a larger audience.
So in October 2015, I started the Norwegian language food blog Et kjøkken i Istanbul (no points for guessing what that translates to). Intended as a 6-month hobby project alongside the language courses, it soon became much more than that. As the end of the six months approached, Andreas Viestad, Norway’s leading food writer, was sitting on my Istanbul roof terrace, enjoying a selection of mezes I had chosen and made that same morning. He had come to Istanbul to write about me and my cooking. I also found I enjoyed blogging a lot more than I had anticipated – not just the recipes but the telling of stories and anecdotes from my life in Istanbul, researching the background to traditional dishes, passing on tips I had picked up on specific ingredients or techniques. Hearing from readers who had been inspired to try something they would never have been able to think of themselves – and loving it – has been absolutely heartwarming.
And so it was that instead of putting the project to rest, I decided to double up and launch an English version.
A kitchen in Istanbul is a reflection of my journey through a food culture which is as alive today as it has been for centuries. Turkey’s rich imperial past means its kitchen has expanded much beyond the stews of Anatolia, with many of today’s most popular dishes in Turkey having its root in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and even Armenia – often unbeknownst to many Turks themselves. Many of the dishes and flavours of the Turkish kitchen and its neighbours in the Middle East aren’t as well-known in the west as they deserve. And those that are are often tweaked until they, though often delicious, have barely any resemblance to their original. On this blog, I will share those favourites I regularly make at home.
The food I present here is not strictly traditional, though. Some are. Others are more inspired by traditional flavours and combinations than a true representation of culinary history. Still others are inspired by restaurants I’ve eaten at, cookbooks or blogs I’ve read, meals friends or family have cooked for me – or the beautiful produce they sell at the many wonderful markets across Istanbul. Some of them have nothing at all to do with the cuisine of Turkey, the Middle East or the Eastern Mediterranean. In short, the food I share on this blog is the food I make in my kitchen in Istanbul, coloured by my past as well as my present surroundings. Yet two elements are typically always present: Colour. And flavour. Plenty of flavour.
A kitchen in Istanbul is not all about recipes, however. Just as important to me is to provide a snapshot of modern-day Turkey – the traditions that remain, and the ones that are being lost. Although supermarkets are now everywhere, many Turks still shop for their food in what many would consider the old fashioned way (although it is coming back into fashion elsewhere too): fresh fruit and vegetables from the weekly markets or the greengrocer, meat from the butcher, fish from the fishmonger, baklava from the baklavamaker, bread from the bakery…you get the picture. And the ladies (for in Turkey it is still the ladies who do the shopping) know their good tomato from a bad one and would never settle for the bad one, almost no matter the price.
So amongst the recipes you may also find an update on what’s on offer at my local market at the moment, new places I’ve discovered, my latest conversation with the greengrocer or something else I’ve experienced as a foreigner in Turkey. Sometimes in the introduction to a recipe, sometimes in a blog post all of its own.
Except where otherwise noted, I’ve written all of the texts and taken all of the photos. I spend a lot of time on them and, as this is a blog, I don’t get paid to do them. All of the contents of this blog – including, but not limited to, texts, photos and recipes – are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced anywhere else without my permission.
That doesn’t mean it cannot be used under any circumstance. If you wish to use a recipe, photo or text from the blog – get in touch and we’ll try to work something out. And if you want to commission me for a project – one-off or regular – get in touch. I am also open to the idea of selective commercial co-operation, on or off the blog, so if you have an idea (or would like one) – get in touch.
If you’re a reader and have a question or comment about a particular post or recipe, please use the comments function. This way not only do I get notified of your comment and can respond in a timely manner – other readers can also benefit. Likewise, if you have feedback, for example you substituted something in a recipe and it really worked, or maybe you tried something and it didn’t work – share the love and leave a comment for fellow readers to enjoy. You can also get in touch by email or leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram – though in case of the latter two I do not guarantee a reply as sometimes comments get lost among other notifications.
Afiyet olsun! Enjoy!