Delicious Turkey–No, Not the Thanksgiving Treat

Turkish scene, from Book, Turkey
Turkish scene, from the book, Turkey, used by permission of the publisher

Tasty travel

by Brette Sember

Destination: Turkey

Book Cover of Turkey: More than 100 Recipes
Book: Turkey: More than 100 Recipes, With Tales from the Road by Leanne Kitchen

As our thoughts turn to cooking and eating Thanksgiving turkey this month, let me give you another kind of delicious turkey to think about: Turkey: More than 100 Recipes, with Tales from the Road by Leanne Kitchen, a beautiful collection of recipes, travelogues, and photographs that will bring the tastes of the country of Turkey to your home without you hopping on a plane to travel there yourself. Another thing, in addition to the name, that makes this book perfect for November is that Kitchen emphasizes the importance hospitality plays among the Turks. She was invited into homes, shops, and roadside picnics to share food and was encouraged to make herself at home. She uses the book to showcase the hospitality of the Turks. Hospitality is a big part of the American Thanksgiving tradition and it is lovely to read about hospitality in another part of the world.

If you are unfamiliar with real Turkish cuisine, what might spring to mind when you think of Turkey is Turkish coffee or Turkish delights. This book will blow those perceptions out of the water. Turkish food is fresh, healthy, light, and deeply flavorful. Like all other cuisines, it does not exist in a vacuum, and so there are traditional Turkish dishes that will remind you of specialties in other countries. Cabbage, Shrimp and Rice Dolmas are very similar to Polish stuffed cabbage and Greek stuffed grape leaves. Fried Haloumi is the same concept as Greek Saganaki. Cheese and Potato Filled Rolls sound like knishes. In fact, a lot of the building blocks of the recipes will feel familiar to you from other cuisines: tahini, yogurt (which is actually a Turkish word), lentils, mint, filo, and tandoori bread make Turkish cooking feel like a melting pot. You’ll also find dishes that sound like things you might find on our own table, but with a twist. Classic Manti, for example, is essentially beef stroganoff.

There are also many ingredients that are simply foreign to American readers: pekmez, rosewater, nigella seeds, kashkaval cheese, pomegranate molasses, and Turkish pepper paste. These ingredients may be difficult to locate and the author does not source them for you. But the dishes they are in sound so flavorful that I know I’m going to be placing an order on Amazon to bring some of these ingredients home to make Rose and Pistachio Sweetmeats; Slow-Roasted Lamb with Apples Poached in Pomegranate Juice; Baharat-Rubbed Veal with Grilled Bread; or Squash and Fig Salad; so that I can take a culinary journey to Turkey from my dinner table. The food is all richly flavored with deep tastes that resonate.

If the tastes in this cookbook are not enough to carry you across the sea and continents, sitting down to browse the photos in this book will. The food photos are colorful and soul-warming, but I was overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of the Turkish people and the country itself. Head scarves and mosques are beautiful, but so are the doorways, restaurants, markets, horse and carts, pottery jugs, shops, and homes on hills. Turkey looks truly exotic, but it also is portrayed in a way that makes you know it is welcoming. I felt as if each person I saw in the pages was an interesting and fascinating person I would love to know. And I know I could lose myself wandering the streets of Istanbul or the country roads throughout the country.

This cookbook is an excellent addition to your kitchen if you want to experiment with some flavors you may be unfamiliar with, while daydreaming yourself into the stunning landscape that is the country of Turkey.

Brette is planning to make Lamb Chops Baked in Paper with Potatoes, Lemon, Mint and Olives since it uses the same cooking method she does in her book The Parchment Paper Cookbook!


Perde Pilav
Perde Pilav Recipe picture from the book ,Turkey, used by permission of the publisher.

Perde Pilav


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
1⁄3 cup whole milk
1⁄4 cup olive oil


2 onions
2 3⁄4 lb whole free-range chicken
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
3⁄4 cup blanched almonds, chopped, plus 18 whole almonds
1⁄3 cup pine nuts
2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
2⁄3 cup currants, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and drained
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, yogurt, milk and olive oil and whisk until well combined. Add to the flour and stir to form a coarse dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth, adding a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky. Roll the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, coarsely chop one of the onions and place in a large saucepan with the chicken, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Add enough water to just cover the chicken, then cover the pan with a lid and slowly bring to a simmer over medium‑low heat. Reduce the heat to very low and cook the chicken for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove the chicken from the pan, then strain and reserve 3 cups of the stock, discarding the solids. Remove the meat from the chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Finely shred the meat using your hands and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Chop the remaining onion and add to the pan with the chopped almonds and pine nuts and cook for 7–8 minutes, or until the onion has softened and the nuts are light golden. Add the rice, currants and allspice and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, or until the rice is well coated and the mixture is fragrant. Add the reserved stock, bring to a simmer, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 10–12 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed — the rice will not be quite cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in the dill and chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease six 1 3⁄4-cup-capacity pie pans or ovenproof dishes. Place 3 of the extra whole almonds in the base of each. Divide the pastry into 6 even-sized pieces and roll out on a lightly floured surface to make circles big enough to line the pans, about 1⁄2 inch thick. Use the pastry to line the pans, allowing any excess to overhang the edges — you will need to be careful not to tear the pastry as it is delicate. Spoon the rice mixture into the pans and fold over the excess pastry to cover the rice, pinching to seal. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until the pastry is deep golden. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out and serve immediately with a green salad passed separately.


NOTE: It is the policy of A Traveler’s Library to indicate affiliate links. Links to Amazon here allow you to shop directly at Amazon without any extra cost to you, but benefit Brette Sember and her work. THANKS!

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

9 thoughts on “Delicious Turkey–No, Not the Thanksgiving Treat

  1. Yummo. I’ve been to Turkey a couple of times and the food there is a highlight. Never got sick of it. Very tasty and healthy. I think because it’s been home to so many civilisations over millenia, each has left it’s own mark on the food and everything else there!

  2. Great post 🙂 this made my tummy rumble. I especially love the fresh spices and herbs in Turkish cooking… in Istanbul walking through the spice market sent my nose into a whirlwind of cooking ideas 🙂
    i have to say, Turkish breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. thanks for the recipes, I will be sure to try one out and let you know how it goes!! 🙂

  3. Chanced upon your blog as I was searching for good images of food to study and build my photography skills on. Had bookmarked the site and sent this pilaf recipe to friends. Thought I would come back and share my gratitude after I completed my first semi-professional food photoshoot.

  4. Thanks for the introduction to this book, Brette. I always look for books that have both recipes and stories, and I\’ve been interested in Turkey since my major professor in undergraduate school spent a summer there. An art historian, she came back with photos and stories of the great mosques and forts as well as time spent meeting people in small villages and at archaeological sites — so Doctor Hallie Hallam, if you should chance on reading this, your stories of Turkey shared all thsose years ago sank in!

      1. Brette: We went to Ephesus, and thus were briefly in Turkey. I would love to be able to go back and drive the entire Aegean coast and on up to Istanbul. Our taxi-driver guide for the day took us to a real family restaurant (as opposed to a touristy one) and the food was wonderful because the ingredients were so fresh. Somehow highly seasoned, but subtly. And I have fond memories of eating in a little Turkish restaurant just off Broadway in New York and another one in London near our hotel. Sounds like I”d better get this cookbook!

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