Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

Fluffy scrambled eggs cooked with tender tomatoes, onions, peppers and Turkish spices; A hearty and delicious breakfast meal.

     The first time I tried Menemen was at Turkish breakfast one day at a restaurant. I love egg dishes so I have tasted and cooked my fair share of eggs. Although this dish is so simple, it is also so tasty and packed full of flavor. It will easily become a favorite on your recipe list.

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Here’s the recipe:

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c white onion (diced)
  • 1/4 c sweet green pepper  (diced)
  • 1/2 c tomato (diced)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peppers and tomatoes.

Place the onions and peppers in a frying pan and sauté them until they are tender.

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Then add the tomatoes, oregano, paprika and salt. Stir and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble them together with a fork or whisk.

Pour the eggs on top of the sautéed vegetables and return to the stove*.

 

Scramble everything together until the eggs are cooked through but still tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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*Note: if you are preparing this dish in a Traditional Turkish copper pan, add a little oil to the pan, then add the sautéed vegetables and the eggs. Scramble everything together on the stove & serve in the pan it was cooked in.

 

Red Lentil Meatless Meatballs (Malhitali Köfte)

A tender, delicious, savory, meat-less version of a meatball backed with bulgur, lentils and veggies.

     Yet again, this is another great köfte (Turkish for “meatball”) recipe. Instead of meat, it’s packed full of bulgur, red lentils, vegetables and spices. They are a flavorful addition to your menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Here’s the recipe:

(Lentil Meatless Meatballs) Malhitali Köfte

  • 14 oz red lentils
  • 12 oz fine bulgur
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 5 scallions (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 bunches of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 1/4 c olive oil
  • 3/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lentils in a large stock pot with water and salt. Simmer the lentils for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender. 

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Stir in the bulgur, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the bulgur is done (adding a little more water if needed, but the mixture will be very thick).

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In a small frying pan add the butter and olive oil. Once they are hot, add the onions and fry until they are tender. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. 

Transfer the lentils and bulgur mixture to a large shallow bowl. Then add the onions and stir well.

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Transfer to a clean work space and knead the mixture until it’s well combined.

Then add the scallions and parsley and continue kneading for 2-3 minutes.

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Then take gold ball size pieces in your hand and roll into an oval shape. Then using your fingers, shape it to resemble a piece of dough with an imprint of your fingers on one side. NOTE: This is a special technique that takes some practice. Alternatively, you can just roll it into the oval shape.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

Peynirli Künefe

A sweet delicious dessert packed with sweet cheese, pistachios and a crunchy base and top layer! A Mediterranean classic dessert.

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Okay so I’ll admit that way before I started learning about Mediterranean cooking, the idea of cheese in a dessert (besides marscapone) didn’t sound so appetizing to me. It wasn’t until a friend took us out for a couple of rounds of künefe, that I finally wised up to discover just how delicious this combination is.

The cheese that used, is not salty and savory like what you use in pizza or pasta. It’s thick like ricotta in some variations while in others it has the flavor of ricotta with the texture of mozzerella.

Filled generously with pistachios and covered with a sugar syrup it’s actually not too sweet. It’s hits the palate as a perfectly balanced dessert.

At my favorite künefe place, they serve it with clotted cream, fresh fruit and shot glasses of milk. It’s a beautiful thing and worth experiencing at least once in your life. But once you try it, once will never be enough.

Although making künefe is an art, it is possible to make it at home. The biggest challenge may be acquiring the ingredients but once you’ve jumped over that hurdle then the rest will seem like a breeze.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 c kadayıf (made from shredded yufka or phyllo dough. NOTE: buy pre-prepared)
  • 2 c sugar water (equal parts sugar and water, simmered on low heat to form a thick syrup)
  • 2 c unsalted pistachios (shelled & chopped)
  • 3 c Urfa peynir (substitute a moist, crumbly ricotta cheese)
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 4 TBSP butter (for greasing the pans)

Preparation:

Grease two 12 inch round shallow pans with 2 TBSP of butter each.

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Fill one of the pans with 3 cups of the kadayif. Press down gently.

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Sprinkle the chopped pistachios evenly over the kadayif.

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Then evenly crumble the cheese on top of the pistachios.

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Cover with the remaining 3 cups of kadayif and press down gently.

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Then drizzle the oil on top.

Cook the künefe over an open flame until it is light brown on the bottom. Remove the künefe from the heat. Using the other pan, cover the künefe and flip into the other pan so that the browned side is facing up.

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Cook until the other side is light brown. Pour over the sugar water and let simmer for a few seconds. Then remove the pan from the heat.

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Serve & enjoy warm with some clotted cream.

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Afiyet Olsun!

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

Savory and flavorful, this soup packs a punch. Creamy and thick, it’s packed with meat, chickpeas, vegetables and saffron.

Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

  • 500g stew beef chunks
  • 500g green beans (blanched)
  • 1400g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 scallions (white parts only)
  • 1 1/2 c chickpeas (canned & drained or pre-boiled)
  • 1 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, boil the beef with salt and pepper and 2 liters of water for 15 minutes.

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Add the chickpeas and continue to boil for 10 minutes. 20180112_094655

Then add the green beans, scallions and saffron and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

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In a bowl, whisk the yogurt and the egg until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pot and warm the yogurt mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add a few ladles of the soup into the yogurt, stirring constantly (to temper the yogurt). Then pour the entire yogurt mixture into the soup, stirring constantly.

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Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

Curry Chicken

Tender marinated chicken coated in a creamy flavorful curry sauce with mushrooms and sweet red peppers.

I love curry chicken. And I know that curry in general is one of those spices (although it’s actually a combination of spices but that’s a whole other story) that people seem to love or to hate.

As a kid, I had the opportunity to try many different cuisines and flavors. From the first time I tried curry chicken until now, I feel the same — I love it. But I do understand that others don’t love it.

This recipe is simple and delicious. The focus is on the tender marinated chicken and the curry sauce. The combination of these two things makes an unforgettably delicious meal.

Here’s the recipe:

Curry Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 c thick yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 1.5 inch piece of ginger (minced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1.5 onion (diced)
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 1.5 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 3 T sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To marinate the chicken: Mix together the yogurt, 1 T oil, half an onion, half an inch piece of ginger, lemon juice, 2 tsp of cumin, salt, pepper and 2 tsp of oregano. Stir and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.

To prepare the curry chicken: Toast the spices until fragrant (cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano and turmeric).

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Sauté the onions, ginger & garlic.

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Sprinkle over the cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, curry powder, salt & pepper.

Add the chicken and sauté.

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Add the diced red pepper & stir until well combined.

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Add the cream and keep stirring until warmed all the way through.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav)

Tender saffron yogurt coated ribs are tenderized and roasted to perfection to top a plate full of rice pilaf. 

     For this recipe, the ribs do most of their cooking in a pressure cooker. Then they are coated with a mixture of yogurt and saffron and roasted until perfection.

Meanwhile, the rice pilaf is prepared and complimented by a few chickpeas to enhance the flavor and texture.

Once the ribs are done, they top the pilaf and create a satisfying and hearty meal.

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav)

  • 3 lbs beef ribs
  • 3 c rice
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 T thick yogurt
  • 3/4 c chickpeas
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the ribs in a pressure cooker and cover with water. Cook for 60-90 minutes.
In a small bowl mix together the yogurt and the saffron.
Remove the ribs from the pressure cooker. Drain the liquid and reserve.
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Coat the ribs with the saffron yogurt and place in a 375 F oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Place 6-7 cups of the reserved broth in a large stock pot.
Add the rice, chickpeas, salt and pepper. Stir & cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
To serve, plate the pilaf and top with the ribs.
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Afiyet Olsun!

Beef & Onion Stew (Salçali Soğan Aşı)

Tender chunks of stew beef are sautéed to perfection and then braised with pearl onions and quince until tender and succulent.

Growing up, beef stew was a staple in my house, especially during the winter time. It was a hearty stew, paired with rice and perfect for warming up on a cold day.

This beef and onion stew is a blend of savory and sweet with tender pieces of beef and quince that make this hearty meal. It’s packed with flavor! Although it is very different from the beef stew I grew up eating, I appreciate and welcome this new flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 ounces stew beef chunks
  • 20-25 small red onions or pearl onions (or a small variety of onions) (peeled)
  • 2 quince (cored & chopped)
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, sauté the stew beef until it is browned. Add the butter and olive oil and stir.

Then add the onions and toss the pot gently in order to make sure the onions are well coated.

Then add the quince, red pepper paste, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and enough water to cover the stew (approximately 2 liters)

Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beef and quince are tender.

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Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Creamy, flavorful and seasoned masala sauce with tender pieces of marinated chicken.

The perfect blend of spices with tomatoes create a delicious “masala” or sauce for this dish. The chicken is marinated in a thick yogurt mixture and is tender, flavorful and so good. If you think marinades are not worth the work, then you’ll love how simple this one and the final result of the tender chicken.

A classic Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala is found on restaurant menus all over the world. But making it at home is a rewarding and delicious treat and perhaps not as complicated as you imagined.

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Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 1 lb boneless skin-less chicken breasts (diced)
  • 1/2 c thick yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1.5 onions (diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1.5 inch piece of ginger (diced)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 T cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c cream (if desired)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To marinate the chicken: place the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, half of an onion, a half-inch piece of ginger, 1 T cumin powder, 1 T dried oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine and then cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

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To make the chicken tikka masala:

Place the spices in a dry frying pan and toast just until they are fragrant.

Sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in a frying pan with the sunflower oil until tender.

Add the spices and stir thoroughly.

Add the chicken and sauté  until cooked through.

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Then add the tomato paste, season with salt and pepper and stir until well coated.

Then add the chopped tomatoes and 1.5 cups of hot water. Stir and then cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

Serve over a bed of rice or with bread.

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Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

 

 

Chicken Turkish Pizza (Tavuklu Lahmacun)

A different spin on the traditional Turkish pizza. Instead of ground beef, ground chicken is used in this variation of a classic recipe.

Thin, crispy crust topped with a thin layer of the toppings, lahmacun, or Turkish pizza, is a one of a kind dish. Served with fresh parsley, lemon and sometimes a myriad of other vegetables (e.g. pickled red cabbage, raw turnips and tomato salad), the pizza is topped with fresh veggies (if you wish) and then rolled up before enjoyed!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 lbs ground or finely minced boneless chicken
  • 4 scallions (chopped)
  • 2 bunches of parsley (chopped)
  • 5 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Chop all of the ingredients except for the chicken and place it in a bowl.

Add the chicken and stir until well incorporated.

NOTE: If you live in Turkey or a country that has wonderful FIRINS (bakers who will prepare the lahmacun for you as long as you bring them all the ingredients), then you will place all the ingredients in a pan, bring it to the Firin and voila! You’ll have dozens of lahmacun, hot and fresh!

If you don’t have a local FIRIN, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Chop all of the ingredients into large chunks. Place it in a food processor and blend it all together until everything is finely chopped (almost like a thick paste, but not quite that far).

Using the bread dough recipe below, prepare your lahmacun.

Bread Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 2 tBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Combine the sugar, yeast, and water together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Allow the yeast to activate by allowing it to set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then add 2 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.

NOTE: You may not need all of the flour so add it cup by cup to ensure that the dough is not too dry.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Coat a bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. Then punch it down and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes,

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into golf ball size pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece until VERY thin. NOTE: Lahmacun is a very thin crust Turkish pizza. It needs to be very thin but still able to hold onto the topping.

Next, take 2-3 TBSP of the mixture and spread it onto the the dough. It should form a nice and thin layer where you barely see the dough.

Transfer the lahmacun to a really hot baking sheet or pizza stone and bake on 250C/500F  (or as hot as your oven can get) for 3-5 minutes. NOTE: Watch it closely because it will bake fast and it would be a shame for your hard work to go up in flames. I mean literally, it can burn.

Then remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!

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This recipe was learned from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Mini Turkish Meatballs (Arap Köftesi)

A delicious mini meatball that’s packed with so much more than just meat. Served with yogurt and a spice oil drizzle, it’s a beautiful and delicious creation!

Essentially, I would consider this dish a meatball. Although the ratio of bulgur to meat is 2 to 1 so maybe it’s more like a bulgur & meatball but regardless, it’s delicious.

While it is a bit of a labor of love to prepare them, the lovely end product is what makes it all worth it. It’s a good dish to make with friends or with kids because it requires a lot of kneading and rolling into the small balls.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 oz ground beef
  • 1.5 c simit bulgur (a fine, small bulgur variety)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 TBSP dried tarragon (crushed)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes (non-spicey)
  • 6 1/2 cups of yogurt
  • 0.5 c water
  • 0.5 c sunflower oil (or any neutral oil: vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 0.25 c olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large shallow bowl mix together the ground beef, bulgur, red onion, garlic, tarragon, salt and pepper. Knead together for 5 to 10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed.

Then add the finely chopped parsley. Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed until the consistency is moist enough to roll into balls without falling apart or sticking to your hands.

Taking piece by piece of the mixture, roll it into small 1 inch balls.

Once all of the balls are made, pile them into a steamer basket and place on the stove to steam for about 10 minutes.

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Remove from the stove and set aside for 10 minutes.

Fill a frying pan with the sunflower oil and olive oil. Once it is hot, add the meatballs and fry until lightly browned.

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Stir in the red pepper flakes and remove the pan from the heat.

To serve, plate 1 TBSP of yogurt on each plate and then top with several meatballs and a light drizzle of the red pepper oil.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

 

Rice Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts and Dried Currants (Iç Pilav)

Savory and sweet — in the best possible way, this rice pilaf is packed with crunchy pine nuts and almonds and filled with tender pieces of dried currants.
Iç Pilav, is literally translated as “Inner Rice.” It is the perfect combination of blending sweet and savory flavors into one dish. The cinnamon and the all spice add the perfect blend of spices to this dish.
Here’s the recipe:
Rice Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts and Dried Currants (Iç Pilav)
  • 3 c rice (soaked in water, drained & rinsed)
  • 1/2 c blanched almonds
  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  • 2 TBSP dried currants (rehydrated in water)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp all spice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large stock pot, add the butter and oil.
Pour in the almonds and pine nuts and toast them for 1 minute. Then add the rice and toast for another 2-3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and then add the currants.
Add 6 cups of hot water and stir. Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle in the cinnamon and all spice. Stir until well incorporated. Put the lid back on the rice and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
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Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

A Traditional Turkish Coffeehouse: Tahmis Kahvesi

Take a trip back in time to simpler era. No cell phones. No laptops. No email. Taking a coffee break at Tahmis Khavesi takes you back to the essence of enjoying a good cup of coffee with good company.

One of the oldest coffeehouses in Turkey, founded in 1635 it is a treasure to visit. The decorative copper pitchers in the stained glass windows, the traditional chandeliers and the classic wood furnishings, it’s such a beautiful place to enjoy a Turkish coffee.

In the winter you’ll be warmly welcomed by the large wood burning heater that is in the middle of the building as soon as you walk in the door. If you venture up the stairs, you’ll be delighted to sit in upper level that overlooks the entire place.

There are games and books and it’s not unusual for people to play some traditional games or read but mostly you’ll just notice people enjoying the company of those that they are with.

“One neither desires coffee nor a coffeehouse. One desires to talk with others, coffee is but an excuse.” A Turkish saying.

 

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Drinking Turkish coffee is such a wonderful experience. Like espresso, it’s served in a small cup and it’s stronger than an average cup of coffee. But unlike espresso, it has a layer of foam on top and a thick layer at the bottom; This part, you don’t drink. The coffee is rich, thick and robust.

Turkish coffee is always served with water and frequently with Turkish delight, chocolate or some sort of snack. The sweet is meant to balance out the strong flavor of the coffee. While Turkish delight is the most traditional option, a little piece of chocolate it becoming more common.

When ordering your coffee, you can either order it without sugar “sade,” a little sugar “az sekerli, an average amount of sugar “sorta sekerli” or very sweet, “sekerli.” No matter what you’re preference, you’re in for a treat!

At Tahmis Khavesi the Turkish coffee is served with some roasted nuts and water. It’s brought to your table in an elegant coffee cup and when you remove the lid, you unveil the beautiful aroma of the steaming Turkish coffee. With one sip, you’ll taste the robust flavor and thick foam. It’s so good. Savor every sip until you reach the thick layer of grounds, which concludes the cup of coffee.

So if you’re looking to experience the best of traditional and modern, then a visit to Tahmis Kahvesi is a must. It’s a one of a kind experience for coffee lovers everywhere.

P.s. Also try the Menengiç coffee (made from the roast berries from pistachio trees) or a classic cup of Turkish tea! Or buy some coffee to take home with you!

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