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Saturday, January 23, 2010

A La Recherche du Kebab Perdu

I spent last two weeks in Sarajevo, Istanbul and Ankara while reading Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and Thousand Splendid Suns. The common word between three cities and two books is kebab. Kebab is also famous in the Balkans as cevapi, kebabceta and is either grilled minced meat or simply grilled pieces of meat.

I think that my preference goes for the Bosnian version of kebab - the ones the can be found in the cevapdziinicas in the old carshija. They are served in portions of 5, 10 or more but my experience showed that 7.5 is an optimal number for a portion of cevapi. In Bosnia cevapi are served with lepinja - thin grilled bread. They go perfectly well with kajmak (a kind of salty milk product) and onion and cabbage or tomato salad.

I like a bit less the Turkish kebab which is similar to the Bosnian but is served in portions of 6. What's it all about with these numbers and why can't a person order any number of cevapi (like in civilized places like Bulgaria) without calling a referendum? Turks are getting closer to the magic number of 7.5 though. Turkish cevapi go really well with a couple of long peppers and lentils soup which - purist as they are - the Bosnian cevapi places don't offer.

The other highlight of my trip were the aubergines. I ate stuffed aubergines several times and I like them a lot although they could be prepared with lots of oil. There must be some cooking technique which reduces the oiliness. Maybe the tule is simply 'put less oil'. I must praise here Turkish Airlines which on the flight Munich-Istanbul offered an excellent meal of salmon entree, stuffed aubergine and cheese cake. I hadn't had a proper meal in a plane for ages.

I have to also advertise here two Ankara restaurants - Mantar (Mushroom) and Daphne. The first is a very cosy, average priced restaurant where you choose your own meals in the kitchen. The latter is a more elegant and expensive but extremely good restaurant which, unfortunately, unexpectedly charges 15 EUR for a small bottle of raki (pastisse).

My culinary experience in Turkey was topped by the discovery of fresh pommegranate juice (3-4 TRL) which is practically everywhere and is of extraordinary quality. I can also recommend the fresh spicy stuffed mussles at the fish market in Beyoglu.


Nihal said...

So pleased to read that you enjoyed visiting Queen City and tasted our traditional richness thru delish plates:) Smiles~

Merisi said...

Fresh pomegranate juice, how wonderful and very healthy too!

I am not a Kebab person, but I loved to eat the pita pockets filled with cubed grilled lamb, yogurt cucumber salsa and shredded lettuce at the Greek Festival of the Greek-Orthodox church around the corner from our former home in the States.

I_am_Tulsa said...


Happy Valentine's day to you guys!