Delicacies of the Fertile Crescent
Productive soils of the "Fertile Crescent" were kneaded with various cultures it hosted for thousands of years, and it has been reproduced with the traces it conveyed so far. Food culture of the region is like a guide that we can follow the traces of these different cultures…
The list of special flavours that was born in this geography and peculiar to here, is very long: Antep Baklava, Antep Fıstığı (Pistachio), Diyarbakır Watermelon, Diyarbakır Plaited Cheese, Mardin İkbebet, Mardin İmlebes, Mardin Kaburga Dolması, Mardin Kibe, Mardin Sembusek, Nizip Olive Oil (Gaziantep), Pervari Honey (Siirt), Siirt Büryan Kebab, Siirt Perde Rice, Şanlıurfa Pepper, Şanlıurfa Çiğ Köfte… Furthermore, herbs such as tuzik and thistle which are cultivated in the region depending on the season, are also consumed to a great extent.
Gaziantep plays an important role with its registered 391 regional foods such as baklava, kebab and lahmacun among the distinguished cities which became popular with their regional cuisines, and also is one of the food centres of our country.
Being a gastronomy city, Gaziantep has Emine Göğüş Cuisine Museum that was established in 2008 should necessarily be visited as it is one of the first cuisine museums of Turkey. Moreover, it is also possible both to see the cuisine culture of the region and to get training in Şanlıurfa Cuisine Museum.
In the region, which is one of the oldest settlement centres of the world; wheat, spice and especially the food made up of lamb meat come to the forefront. Wheat and lamb meat seem to underline the abundance in the region, whereas spices underline the city being a trade route...
A Very Special: Kebab
Kebab is the first food coming to mind when it comes to the "Fertile Crescent." This flavour that spread all across Turkey and even the world, is prepared by marinating the meat, spices and spicy-sour mixtures and by cooking them at coal fire.
Kebabs, stew meats and stuffed food are cooked with fruits and vegetables of the regional cuisine. Kemeli tike kebab, yenidünya kebab, eggplant kebab, kebab with yoghurt, büryan, opium poppy kebab, kebab with onion, kebab with tomato, and alinazik are among tens of types of kebabs in the region.
Meat is always a priority
Another popular food is Lahmacun. Lahmacun, which is prepared by applying the meat on dough and cooking in stone oven, is also one of the delicacies that expanded to the world from the Fertile Crescent. Kelle-paça, boiled shinbone, paşa köftesi, Kilis tava and onion tava are other common meat dishes of the region.
Never without soup!
Soups with yoghurt are also important in the cuisine of the region. Soups can be cooked with milk, with ayran and bouillon in addition to only water. Leveniye, alaca soup, ezo gelin soup, soup with yoghurt, şiveydiz soup are also popular sorts that are cooked in the region.
The Fertile Crescent is generous with desserts as well. The desserts that are obtained from the grapes cultivated in the region are the sorts that come to mind first. Fruits such as apple, quince and winter pumpkin are added to grape water, and jam is made. Furthermore, desserts such as fruit leather and sausage are also made with grape water.
The most famous dessert of the region is absolutely baklava. This flavour was born in Gaziantep and is consumed all around the world with great appreciation, and it is a gift of the Fertile Soils to the world.
Lokma and halva are widely consumed occasionally as a dessert. Milky desserts, too, have an extensive coverage within the cuisine of region. Tene halva, ball halva, nişe bulamacı, şıllık, şöbiyet, bülbül yuvası, dolama, peanut butter, kadayıf with peanuts, burma kadayıf, nuriye dessert, zingil, revani, halbur hurma, küncülü akıt, sugary leblebi, and almond toffee of Mardin are also in the first place of the dessert list of the region.
Fancy a cuppa coffee?
Mırra culture is another important culture in the region. It is difficult and takes long to make, and is a coffee type peculiar to the region. People drink it in small cups since it is too bitter and dark. The presentation of this beverage requires a special effort in places such as Şanlıurfa and Mardin that are dominated by Arabic culture.
Gift of the Tigris and the Euphrates!
The fish of the Tigris and the Euphrates also enrich the taste map of the region. Shabbat that has a length of about 25-30 cm (10-11 inches), covered with large flakes, having two pairs of moustache and a tail fin that is pronged, is the most delicious fish of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Residents of the region love and consume this fish a lot that it has started to be produced in Atatürk Dam since it is consumed to a great extent.
Cold sherbet, cold sherbet!
"Licorice sherbet" is one of the beverages of the region that is frequently consumed during summer times. The sherbet that has a somewhat bitter and acrid taste should be consumed cold with one shot. This beverage is said to be very beneficial for kidneys.
Let us remind you the importance of food culture in Adıyaman with the words of King Antiochos of the Kingdom of Commagene, who reigned on these soils 2000 years ago:
“…On the days of birth of mine own and the gods’ decreed I to celebrate every month and every year throughout, wearing the Persian garments behoved to ordain by my ancestral traditions and by my grant, shalt this priest adorn each and every effigy consecrated I to the pious honour of the gods. Through the gewinn over boroughs hath devoted I to the glorious behoof of mine blissful line o’ blood, shalt he amply offer incense and fragrant weed, befitting to dignity of ours, consecrate the sleek, bedight thereunder such tables hallowed withal treats of feast, and replenish jugs and pots with wine diluted. Shalt he welcome and host each and every friend or foreign withal such diligence, and confect banquet for the fellowship that every soul shalt taste equal joy.”
These words of Antiochos, King of the Commagene Kingdom, which became immortal and that were engraved to the stones 2000 years ago, describe the cuisine culture of Adıyaman very well sustaining its existence with meat, wheat, grape and herbs it has had for thousands of years.
There are great types of food in this cuisine... Çiğ köfte, basalla (sour meatballs), Adıyaman tava, dövmeç, çılbır, lentil balls, fruit leather, yapıştırma, hetab, cheesy semolina halva and of course the meatless çiğ köfte that comes to mind first when it comes to Adıyaman.
Very delicious Adıyaman food are waiting for you to discover.
Batman cuisine has samples from the characteristic gastronomy traces of the region. Bulgur and mutton are the two indispensable ingredients of Batman cuisine. It is possible to find a great deal of restaurants in Batman, which present the samples from both traditional and the contemporary world cuisine.
Stuffed meatballs (kütülk), fresh and dried stuffed vegetables with sumac, Batman stuffed tripe (ur u rovi), Batman meat and vegetable stew (Tırşık), bumbar dolma and Şam börek (Pastry)are the first flavours that come to mind when it comes to Batman.
Shabbat fish is a fresh-water fish peculiar to the Tigris and the Euphrates, which is also a fish type that is preferred due to its delicious meat. Furthermore, village bread that is cooked in ovens made of the mud called as Tifik and Kıcıl; and Hevra that is a stone oven bread are also important delicacies of the region. You will not get enough of the taste of this special bread.
Natual Sason Honey is one of the most important tastes of the region due to the richness of its flora. You are strongly encouraged to not forget to taste Sason Honey which distinguishes itself from similar types.
In Kilis cuisine where the influence of Aleppo cuisine is strong; Kilis tava, obruk, kübbül müşviyye are the most popular ones among meat dishes.
Vegetable olive oil dishes and soups such as ekşili maltıha, şıhılmöhşei şıhıl mahşi also take place among the important traditional dishes thanks to the olive oil that is widely produced in the region.
Züngül, gerebiç, mayanalı (anise), kahke, haytayla Kilis katmer, cennet çamuru and gün pekmezi are also other delicious tastes of Kilis cuisine.
Diversity has been ensured in Diyarbakır cuisine just like other issues such as various cultures, religions, languages, whereas a traditional taste was developed. This great secret behind the tastes of these dishes might arise from the harmonization of these different cultures and their experiences in the same kitchen…
Natural and fresh vegetables that are collected from Hevsel Gardens that is gingered up by the Tigris increase the tastes of meals. Furthermore, the spices that are produced from herbs and vegetables which are cultivated in the region, are among the indispensable ingredients of the traditional cuisine. Desserts are also rich and offer a wide variety just like the dishes.
Saç tava, meftune, pürlezzel, kaburga dolması, kibe mumbar, eggplant kebab, liver kebab, stuffed meatballs, lahmacun, ayvalı kavurma, Diyarbakır burma kadayıfı, kaymaklı kadayıf and other tastes welcome their visitors in Diyarbakır.
One of the most interesting eating habits of Diyarbakır is definitely to eat kebab with liver very early in the morning or at night-time. Modern times had their influence on Diyarbakır; breakfast tables adorned with rich and diverse food in Hasanpaşa and especially in Suriçi, has replaced the habit of eating liver early in the morning. However, Diyarbakır is still keen on liver.
Drinking a coffee in Diyarbakır is a great pleasure. Coffees with different tastes (especially menengiç coffee) are presented in all coffee shops and inns in Diyarbakır. Do not forget to taste Assyrian Wine that you can find in Sülük Han.
Gaziantep hosts one of the richest cuisines of Turkey and the world, which has been taken into "Creative Cities Network" of UNESCO in the field of gastronomy. Gaziantep is one of the leading cities that deserve to take part in this network with its scrumptious and unique dishes.
Gaziantep plays an important role with its registered 391 regional foods such as baklava, kebab and lahmacun among the distinguished cities which became popular with their regional cuisines, and it is one of the most important taste stations of our country.
Emine Göğüş Cuisine Museum that is the first cuisine museum of our country, established in 2008, is available in the city that comes to forefront with its cuisine culture. Furthermore, Mehmet Reşit Göğüş Cuisine Arts Training Centre that sustains its activities in Gaziantep makes effort to make the regional identity unforgettable by providing trainings about the cuisine culture of the city.
Cartlak kebab, eggplant kebab, onion kebab, simit kebab, yeni dünya kebab, alinazik, tike kebab, küşleme, beyran, şıveydiz, dövmeli alaca soup, lebeniye, ezogelin soup, stuffed meatballs, çiğ köfte, Arab meatball with tsatsiki, malhıtalı meatball, yuvalama, doğrama, lahmacun, dried kinds of dolma, summer dolma, keme dolma, mıhsı, frikli stuffed zucchini, baklava, katmer, Antep kahkesi and many more...
Gaziantep makes a difference with the gastronomic originality it presents, promising a feast of taste.
Mardin cuisine has traces of civilizations that lived on these soils for ages, managing to get a synthesis of different cultures and a unique and original cuisine.
Mardin cuisine is not vegetable-oriented like the Aegean region or spicy, nor kebab oriented like Urfa and Gaziantep cuisines. Mardin cuisine is adorned with the most delicious tastes of the world, and it is a unique and special cuisine. Meat comes together with bulgur, and vegetable comes together with spice for a great harmony; and extraordinarily mystic tastes emerge.
The first Mardin dishes that come to mind are as follows, which are rich in spice:
Bacanak soup, stuffed lamb ribs, seasoned rice with almonds, pomegranate salad, ikbeybet (boiled stuffed meatballs), ırok (roasted stuffed meatballs), keşkek, sembusek, dobo, kitel raha (boiled meatball on metal tray), çiğ köfte, sarma, frik rice, alluciye (plum dish with meat), pumpkin with sesame oil, syrup and walnuts.
Assyrian wine, gingery lemonade, Mardin mahaleb liquor, kiliçe (Mardin muffin), kakuleli mırra, hariri dessert, bread and biscuits with cinnamon, sugared almond and roasted chickpea are also important tastes of Mardin.
Siirt cuisine, encountering different cultural values and blending them with its own values, is quite rich and multi-coloured. In Siirt cuisine where traditional Middle East ingredients are dominant, a huge assimilation can be found ranging from Italian dry bread to French dishes that are made of prairie plants. Although Siirt cuisine is famous for büryan kebab, the core of the cuisine is constituted by the dishes that are cooked in pots.
Siirt büryanı (perive) is one of the symbolic tastes of Siirt. Büryan is made by cooking the fresh goat and lamb meat in their own vapour in the fiery well holes. Büryan is presented to the taste of people who are keen on their palatal delight.
Perde rice is another famous dish of Siirt, which is in the shape of tarboosh and cooked by blending dough, almond and rice with flavour. The most delicious perde rice is made with thyme. Okra soup accompanies with perde rice.
Siirt Meatballs (Kitle), in other words stuffed meatballs, are not roasted on the contrary to other regions.
Şorbut Zahtar - Thyme Soup, is a unique soup that is made with natural powdered thyme that are collected in Botan Mountains. İsmeyket is another regional taste that resembles this soup but made with meat.
Soury dry dolma is another indispensable dish of Siirt cuisine.
Şanlıurfa has all the characteristic features of the regional cuisine and reflects Mesopotamia food culture the best, promising you a 'feast' with its scrumptious and unique foods.
Hot and spicy food with sauce constitute the foundation of cuisine culture in Şanlıurfa. Wheat that is called “yarma” and soups are used as well as cold cuts.
Çiğ köfte that is made not to appease filling but to taste, Urfa kebab, eggplant kebab that is made of Balcan cultivated in Birecik, liver kebab that is eaten at early in the morning, are the flavours of Urfa that come to mind first.
Borani is composed of the unification of chickpea and garden orach, and stuffed meatball bostana salad, semsek, ağzı açık, ağzı yumuk, tirit soup that is eaten early in the morning and isot that is roasted with all dishes, in other words, hot chili pepper are also the flavours of Urfa that should be tasted.
Do not forget to eat Şıllık dessert peculiar to Urfa and drink dark coffee peculiar to the area after the meals.
You will not forget the taste of Urfa nor of the food.