The renaissance of Turkish cuisine
Today, it is not only a French or Italian chef who can be popular, exciting and good, but also a Turkish one, says Aslan Bilal, owner of Türkiz, a Turkish restaurant in downtown Budapest, Hungary.
The renaissance of Turkish cuisine
Culture and Innovation

The renaissance of Turkish cuisine

Photo: Róbert Hegedüs
Tamás Velkei 27/03/2024 10:40

Today, it is not only a French or Italian chef who can be popular, exciting and good, but also a Turkish one, says Aslan Bilal, owner of Türkiz, a Turkish restaurant in downtown Budapest, Hungary. The evolution of communication has played a role in this, and Nusret Gökçe, who enjoys incredible popularity on social media, has been riding it. And traditional Turkish cuisine is becoming more colourful every year, while the Turkish have also made great progress in the way they serve their dishes. 

Türkiye is a huge country, is it even possible to talk about a unified Turkish cuisine?" we ask Aslan Bilal, owner of the Türkiz restaurant in central Budapest. He says that Turkish gastronomy has been greatly influenced by the cuisines of neighbouring countries and peoples from the Caucasus, Persia, Arabia, Lebanon, Hellas or the Balkans. Türkiye's role as a mediator is indisputable, which has led to the emergence of a very rich and colourful gastronomic region in Anatolia.

There are four major gastronomic regions in Turkey today, says Aslan Bilal. Perhaps the most prominent is the south-eastern region, where the influence of Arab and Lebanese cuisine is felt. Kebabs and the intensive use of spices are characteristic of this region. Other regions include: the area of the country near the Black Sea; the eastern part of the state, which is less spicy but more creative, as it is not overly rich in vegetables and fruit, but more in meat. Aslan Bilal also includes the central part of the country, around Ankara and Konya, where the opposite is true: less meat and fish and more vegetables and cereals, which are processed in a wide variety of ways. In the fourth region, around the Aegean, there is a Hellenic influence. 

Photo: Róbert Hegedüs

Turkish cuisine has also changed a lot in the hundred years since the republic was founded, as has the gastronomy of any other nation. Recipes that have been hidden for centuries and used only by a small community are now more widely known. Turkish cuisine is experiencing a renaissance, with the dishes and recipes of the different regions coming together, a phenomenon that has been particularly noticeable in the last twenty to twenty-five years.

Turkish chefs have also been able to exploit the potential of their nation's cuisine more fully as technology has developed. The head chef of Türkiz, Tevfik Tokgöz, comes from Adana. He has previously worked at the Kaşıbeyaz grill restaurant, Köşebaşı and Albatros. He still uses recipes from his parents and grandparents.

Turkish people are also very fond of sweets, with a rich dessert menu dominated by baklava, but also milk-based, custard-like sweets. Baklava varies from region to region, being available rolled, layered, folded, and in different shapes.

The author is a historian and journalist

Photo: Róbert Hegedüs
Adana kebab

- 500 g minced lamb
- 100 g fat
- 1 onion
- 1 tablespoon of red pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a bowl, combine the ground lamb, fat, chopped onion and spices. Knead the mixture thoroughly and divide into 8-10 equal portions. Shape each part into an oblong and thread onto a skewer. Cook the skewers on a preheated grill or pan over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the meat is cooked through and red. Serve the cooked kebabs sprinkled with parsley, served with red onion, pita bread and various sauces to taste.
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