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Where to Buy Turkish Ingredients in CH/Durham?

We just returned from our best food-focused vacation - a two week trip to Turkey and Morocco. One day, we took a food tour with a company called IstanbulEats. It was incredible. Now, I want to recreate some of those flavors at home. What stores carry ingredients from Turkey, Syria, etc? I'm thinking of pepper paste. One day, we had these wonderful meatballs that were served with a tomato sauce that was flavored with this pepper paste. Normally, I think of tomato sauce as being very sweet, The pepper paste had a bitterness that countered the sweetness of the tomato. It was truly mindblowing.

So where can I get some?

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  1. First port of call would be Mariakakis on 15-501 in CH. Yes, Mr. M. is Greek, but he stocks ingredients from all over the Med, including Turkey, and farther afield. Not sure about the pepper paste specifically. Does it have a name? If so, I'm sure he either has it, or can point to an equivalent.

    Unfortunately, the other place to go would have been Jahan, which just closed. The Med. Deli used to have a reasonable range of products, but I think they've gotten rid of most of those for table space. Might be worth checking, though. Southern Season might have something too.

    1. Wow Tom you're making my mouth water, that dish sounds delicious (must have recipe).How about Caspian International Market? So far I can say it's on Amazon and you can make your own here:

      1. Pretty sure the pepper paste is called harissa. Mariakakis may have what you are looking for. Next further afield would be Taiba Market in Durham. But for best selection and prices it's worth your while to make a trek to Mecca Market in Raleigh.


        4 Replies
        1. re: bbqme

          I was going to guess that harissa was the pepper paste too. You can get it at a very good price at Mariakakas.

          1. re: LulusMom

            I know what Harissa tasts like and I have a bottle in my fridge. This stuff is different. You're familiar with tomato paste? This is pepper paste, same consistency without the saccharine sweetness of tomato paste. Prior to the trip, I'd eaten Turkish food at Talullah's and I was not impressed with the cuisine. On this trip, I ate things that I couldn't even fathom. It was a life changing trip

            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

              Harissa comes in a plethora of different consistencies and tastes. You can buy the tube of paste that is very spicy and similar in consistency to tomato paste from Cost Plus World Market. It comes in a yellow box with red writing I believe.

              The jarred sauce is more like a condiment while this is definitely an ingredient to be used within recipes.

              1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                You know, you might want to contact the Turkish House. Lulu recently took a cooking class with them, and at the time they told me that they do cooking classes for adults here in Chapel Hill. I"m afraid I don't have contact info for the Chapel Hill group (I took her to Cary for the class) but I'm guessing you can find it easily enough, and I think they'd likely be more than happy to help you. The person who taught Lulu's class was very friendly. Here we go - a link to their site (I think): http://carolinaturkevi.org/events.htm

            1. Turkish food shares a lot in common with other foods that you may find in "Mediterranean" restaurants like Med Deli or Neomonde. I'd try there first. Since they sell items like bourekas and pickled lemons and such. Now if you liked the coffee or tea from those areas.. thats another story. I forgot what they call shaksuka in turkey but it is essentially the same dish eggs baked in tomato sauce with spices.

              1. Was the pepper paste flaming hot? If so, it might be similar to s'chug: http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/reci...

                  1. I posted something about this in an earlier thread.

                    In Cary, there is a Turkish grocery -- Harmony Mediterranean on Cary Towne Blvd. It's in the strip with Ollie's. They have lots of Turkish foods. I don't remember pepper paste but I suspect they would have it.

                    One thing they offer that is very good are sesame rings -- but only on Saturday mornings. You see them all over Turkey and these are freshly baked and authentic. But get there early because they tend to sell out.

                    Hope that's still the case, Since the Galaxy closed, I don't get there too often. As I remember they also had some delicious feta cheese and other Turkish delicacies.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TerryG

                      Fresh simit (sesame rings) in Cary? That's amazing! Thanks, TerryG. I generally avoid bread, but I loved simit when I was in Turkey.

                    2. Perhaps it was urfa biber? This is a pepper which is sweated during the drying process resulting in a nuanced seasoning. Not very hot, but with a unique flavor and used frequently in Turkish cooking.

                      I haven't looked for it locally but it is easily found online these days.

                      1. just walked by Med Deli today and lo, they have rented the vintage clothes store next door which will be Mediterranean Market! I'm pretty excited, as we cook a lot of Persian food and I need pomegranate and grape molasses, would love sumac too for Israeli dishes too. It's just an empty spot now but cannot wait...(please stock lots of wonderful things:)

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Rory

                          I saw this report last week and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I want to be supportive of their efforts, but on the other the rent is high and how much is the need to by such ingredients? I enjoy med deli the restaurant but I hope the shop doesn't cause Mariakaki's to close which may have the items you need and at a reasonable price.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            They do have great prices at Mariakakis. I was stunned when I compared the price on tubes of harissa there with Southern Season. Mind-boggling. And with Silver Wok there in the same strip mall you can do lots of exotic ingredient sourcing in one stop.

                          2. re: Rory

                            I've purchased all those items at Mariakakis, with the exception of grape molasses (never looked for it). Pretty much anything in Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem" they have. Plus there's free parking there.

                            1. re: Remsleep

                              One item from Jerusalem I couldn't find there was barberries, but aside from that - yes, everything. And, as you say, free parking.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                That was a tough ingredient to find. I located them at Caspian in Raleigh eventually.

                                Edit - Pretty sure Rockycat had mentioned they had them.

                                1. re: meatn3

                                  I remember you found them, and where. Glad to know they're available in the area. I think unless I was in Raleigh for some other reason (um, KFC?) I'd just sub dried cranberries.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    well I take the bus so I'm quite glad they're opening. I wasn't that thrilled with "Jerusalem" but love "Foods of Life" and would like to get all those ingrediants and if they had Indian ones that would really be nice, save me the long trip to "Around the World Market"
                                    Kalyustan's my old go-to place in nyc, used to buy my Indian spices nearby in the place downstairs...

                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                        the F or D gets me to Whole Foods & then I could walk if the weather is nice but it's quite hot...

                          3. Locally, I recommend Al Baraka.

                            While not local, I continue to shop at and highly recommend Kalustyan's. Their web site seems to be down otherwise I would link.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dbird

                              I forget about Al Baraka and have not investigated the shop. Could you describe them?

                              I tend to go to the (name escapes me) shop on Method Rd. or to Neomondes for more basic things.