Good Eats Istanbul

I get inspired by what the produce guy trucks in to the neighborhoods of Istanbul, and not just any guy because there are lots, but my guy. His fruits and vegetables taste the best. He and his sons arrive in the neighborhood around 7:30 AM or so. They have breakfast together, picnic style, right next to their truck. The other day they were eating tasty looking zucchini fritters, loaves of fresh Turkish bread, and tea. I would love to photograph them, but don’t want to be intrusive. The youngest son rides around with him during the summertime on his school break. He is adorable, and deeply curious about his environment. He looks through the books and magazines I leave on the stairs outside my door, and I always see him trying to figure out how things work. He takes the job of helping his dad seriously even though he is a little wisp of a boy. I see his dad signaling to him, and he comes running out of nowhere. As the truck slowly drives by, he jumps on, and away they go.

I made Turkish vegetarian patties the other day called Mercimek Koftesi. Its an easy thing to make, and a fabulous yet filling lunch or appetizer.

Cook 1 cup of red lentils with 2.5 cups of water so that when the lentils are soft there is still some excess water left. Add 1 cup fine grain bulgur wheat, continue to cook for about 5 minutes more, turn the heat off, then cover until the water is absorbed. In a saucepan, cook a diced onion and a few cloves of garlic. Add about 1 Tbs. each red pepper and tomato paste. Add the bulgur and red lentil mixture to the onions and pastes, mix well, and then salt and pepper to taste. After this cools down, I add a handful of sliced green onions, fresh mint, and parsley. Form into rolls or patties, and put in the refrigerator. It lasts for a week. This is typically eaten with lettuce leaves here in Turkey, and is a nice, low-carb meal. You can also eat in inside a roll with tomato slices as a little sandwich.

Lokma is a Turkish dessert or snack made of dough that is fried, and then covered in sugar syrup. One could say it is similar to a doughnut, but incredibly light in texture. The outside is very crisp and delicate. The syrup doesn’t penetrate it and cause it to become sodden, which is why I love it. The oldest recorded dessert such as this was depicted in the tomb of Ramses IV, although it looked a bit more like the North African treat called jalebi. This particular lokma stand is right outside the local bakery, and produces these confections all day long and into the night. Like I’ve said before, this triangular piece of neighborhood is a small slice of heaven….coffee, lokma, bakery, park….I need nothing else, except maybe something to read.


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Coffee. Beer. Climbing Tall Things.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Nancy Wright at 9:14 pm

    I absolutely cannot wait to make this mercimek koftesi recipe-my mouth is watering!! I also love this article with the author weaving the description of the food delivery man and his dear son in amongst the recipes and bits of Turkish history!

    • Megan
      Megan Author at 10:02 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I love healthy, fast food, and mercimek koftesi in your fridge is just that.

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