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Oct 21, 2010 01:08 AM

Living in Turkey--what grocery items, spices, particular dishes, etc., should I make sure to try?

I'll be living in Turkey (Ankara) for another year and a half. I don't want to go back home and wish that I had tried this or that.

I've been here a short time and am a bit overwhelmed by the different types of yogurt, cheeses, grains, olives--all amazing things but I often don't know how some of these things vary and how to use them when cooking. Suzme, kaymakli yogurt? Both are great but how are they used traditionally?

I plan on taking a cooking course at some point and that will help but I would love to hear about things that you think I should try before heading back to the States.

Of course, kebabs, the lamb, the turkish delights are things that I will more or less end up trying without even going out of my way but what spices, for example, are really outstanding in Turkey? Many, I'm sure.

If there are any Turkish natives on the board, what do you miss from back home? Or if you traveled to Turkey, what do you wish you could find in the States?

For example, if you were to ask me about some of the things I miss in the States, I'd say ship me a box of dried ancho and guajillo chiles because you can't really find that here in Turkey and I love cooking Mexican food...fortunately, I shipped several boxes of this to myself before coming, but I digress...

I apologize if this is a bit broad but all and any ideas are greatly appreciated!

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  1. Just recently spent 3 weeks in Turkey and did a cooking class with Selin from Turkish flavours in Istanbul which was excellent. If you are in Istanbul I really recommend it as Selin takes people to the markets to buy ingredients and then does a comprehensive cooking class. I'm sure you could email her for recommendations in Ankara also - she used to be a travel agent and has connections all over Turkey. I know in her class we used Kaymakli cream to stuff in poached apricots dipped in crushed pistachios - delicious. Whilst travelling through Turkey I loved the kofte and of course kebaps. It was hard to find the dishes we made in the class - like stuffed eggplants and chilli buttered king prawns but obviously they are part of the cuisine. The flavours were so much better in Turkey than any Turkish restaurant I've been to in other countries so you are lucky you get to unlock those secrets by living there!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jules101

      How interesting that the kaymakli yogurt is used to stuff apricots. It does sound delicious! Thanks for the tip about Selin. I was in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago but I plan on going back several times before I leave Turkey. I'll have to look into that. I'm definitely enjoying all the variations of how eggplants are used. So many things to try while I'm here! Thank you!