Turkish Dinner

On May 31 and June 1, Esra Tanyildiz prepared a beautiful (and delicious) Turkish dinner.

Esra is an academician, originally from Turkey, specialized in public policy. She has held academic positions in Atlanta, Istanbul and Brussels. Esra’s passion and favorite pastime is cooking. One day, at the age of fifteen, her mother, who did not like to cook at all, let her prepare a five-course dinner for her dinner guests. Encouraged by the guests and her mother, Esra took over the kitchen the next day and never left. She took several cooking classes and gave Turkish cooking classes to private groups. In 2011, she graduated from Istanbul Culinary Institute. She obtained her ‘Living Foods’ certification in Brussels, and ‘Bread’ and ‘Vegetarian cooking’ certifications at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Her recipes, using seasonal and wholesome ingredients, appeared in food magazines such as Elle Bistro. Esra is also highly interested in traditional home cooking, and collects recipes from former generations. She has recently started cooking workshops promoting home cooking traditions with the refugees whom have resettled in Atlanta.


Sun-Dried Pepper Paste and Walnut TapenadeThis walnut and sun-dried pepper spread is one of the most common dishes in the Middle East. Muhammara could be served as mezze (Middle Eastern small plates) or as a starter. Spicier versions, eaten before dinner, increase appetite and prepares for the next dish. This slightly milder Turkish version is served with pita bread.Gluten-free version available upon request.

Yogurt Corbasi

Yogurt Soup with Wheat BerrriesThe recipe of this soup is traced back to early settlements in Anatolia. It is quite versatile as it could be served as a first course or a complete meal with the addition of a protein. Like the chicken noodle soup in the West, Turks believe in the healing powers of Yogurt soup. It is probably attributable to the probiotics in yogurt, and the soothing properties of mint. Gluten-free/Vegan option: Mercimek Corbasi (Lentil Soup) Probably the most common soup in Turkey is Lentil Soup. Some call Lentil Soup as just ‘soup’. It is a very pure, yet delicious form of red lentils cooked with a few Turkish spices.

Nar Eksili Yesil Salata

Herb Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Kebab houses in Turkey always offer greens herbs and leaves together with the main dishes. Greens lighten up the meal, provide acidic contrast to high fat/protein content, and help digestion. This herb salad also features one of the star ingredients of Turkish Cuisine, pomegranate molasses. The tangy and sweet taste of pomegranate molasses makes a very tasty dressing for a variety of salads and mezzes.Vegan and Gluten-Free. Contains walnuts.

Hunkar Begendi

Slow Cooked Lamb with Eggplant PureeHunkar Begendi is probably one of the most famous Turkish main dishes served in special occasions. Hunkar Begendi is translated as ‘Sultan’s Delight,’ but has also a subtle meaning that corresponds to ‘Sultan finally liked it,” as it was very difficult to impress the Sultan. Hunkar Begendi was first served at Beylerbeyi Palace in 1869, when Empress Eugenie of France visited the Ottoman Empire. It is said that the Empress enjoyed the as much as the Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz.

Irmik Helvasi

Semolina Halwa with Vanilla Ice CreamIn Turkish culture, this is the dessert that follows people from birth to death. Halwa is cooked in large quantities and distributed in the community to celebrate birth, marriage, or to commemorate the deceased. Amongst the variety of Halwa’s, flour and semolina Halwa’s are the two most common ones, but Semolina Halwa is Esra’s favorite! Warm Halwa is served with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon.Vegan option: Irmik Helvasi (Semolina Halwa with Pistachios). Gluten-free option available.

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