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Where to Buy Turkish Ingredients in CH/Durham?

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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:
      http://www.turkishcookbook.com/2006/0...

      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.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9249...

        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

          2. and here are the details of the next adult cooking class: http://carolinaturkevi.org/cookingcla...

            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 think this is akin to what Tom is looking for.. not the green stuff.

                  http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2010/04...

                  http://www.amazon.com/Sera-Turkish-Pe...

                  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.