This Ottoman Chef Brings Us Closer To Authentic Turkish Fare
Image Credit: Khubani Delhi, A luscious Turkish fare

The good thing about globalisation is definitely the fact that it has led to the intermingling of cultures and culinary practices. Otherwise, how would we be able to enjoy Turkish delicacies in our own country? Belonging to the Ottoman heritage, Turkish cuisine is an amalgamation of several fare like Mediterranean, Balkan, and Middle-Eastern, etc. The defining characters of this Middle-Eastern fare are a large range of stews and soups along with several flatbreads. Fresh ingredients are emphasized instead of seasonings and self-grown herbs are infused with meats, which lend them a rustic flavour. In an effort to introduce the world to authentic Turkish fare, Chef Gokhan Eser Kesen brings the delicious flavours on a platter.  

The culinary brain behind the newly-opened fine-dining space in Aerocity, Delhi, Chef Gokhan is one of the culinary experts behind the Turkish food festival at Khubani. From carpeted floors to the warm and cosy ambience, you can smell the kebabs being grilled while the chef expresses his journey from his home country to India. 

When asked about Turkish food, he said, “Each of the dishes are made with perfection and precision. We want people to know that Turkish food isn’t just about hummus and pita bread.” This gets translated into the mezze platter that has been created by him, with a range of hand-picked dips and condiments, served alongside the Turkish balloon bread and falafel. For the unversed, falafel is a crispy, fried snack from the country’s fare that is made from dried chickpeas. Among the range of dips, there was Hummus, Mutabel (roasted eggplant), Haydari (Greek yoghurt and feta cheese) and Ezne (pomegranate and cherry tomatoes). 

The chef also highlighted how chickpeas are an important ingredient in Turkish cooking. He remarked, “One of the two staples in any Turkish pantry, chickpeas are used for making dips like hummus, snacks like falafel as well as stews like the Turkish lamb stew. Creaminess and smoothness is added to the Turkish fare through the use of these peas.” Apart from this, there are plenty of kebabs that form a significant part of the cuisine. 

Source: Khubani Delhi 

Chef Gokhan talks about the roots of the adana kebab as he wraps up half of the meaty delight into a slice of Turkish bread and packs it with pickled lettuce, purple cabbage, onions and carrots. “If you happen to be familiar with Turkish cuisine, you would know that kebabs are a part and parcel of most Middle-Eastern cuisine. Adana kebab holds a special place in this fare because it originates from the city of Adana in Turkey and has been named after it,” he elaborated. The distinguishing aspects of these kebabs lie in the fact that the mutton is hand-minced to perfection after which they are set on skewers to be grilled on open charcoal. 

Any Turkish meal, the chef said, “is incomplete without a sip of sand coffee with a side of Turkish sweetmeats”. The interesting technique with which the black coffee is prepared is what adds to the tantalising aroma. The cezve, a traditional wide-bottomed pan, is used to mix coffee and water after which it is rolled in the sand several times till the foam forms on top. To compensate for the strong taste of this Turkish coffee, the chef pairs it with kunafa. 

Source: iStock

1.    Begin by preparing the sherbet. For that, mix water and granulated sugar together in a saucepan. 

2.    Add a dash of lemon to the sugar while it melts and let it simmer. 

3.    Once it achieves a thick consistency, remove it from the stove and let it rest. 

4.    Next, prepare the kadayif. These are thin Turkish noodles which are used for many desserts. 

5.    Pour the melted sherbet on it and mix it with the kadayif. 

6.    Oil a pan and spread some of the kadayifs properly. 

7.    Layer some unsalted cheese on it. 

8.    Spread the remaining kadayıfs on top of this and press them so that they stick to the cheese. 

9.    Turn the kunafa base to the other side so that it cooks well on both sides.

10.    Grease the pan again. Fry the kunafa on a large surface and the other side of the pan. 

11.    Heat the sugar syrup to make it warm. Remove the syrup from the stove and transfer it to the plate. 

12.    Garnish the kunafa with pistachios.