Konya, Turkey – Rumi’s Delicious City
Curly peppers at t he Kadinlar Pazari , the women's market

Konya, Turkey – Rumi’s Delicious City

Rainbow over Konya
Rainbow over Konya

I arrived in Konya well after midnight, to participate in the Atesbaz-in Culture Cuisine Cultural Days (Atesbaz-in means “the person who plays with fire” ie. the cook) a conference devoted to the cuisine of this special part of Anatolia, and to Rumi, the poet and philosopher who made Konya his home.

From the moment I arrived, welcomed warmly by the conference organizers despite the hour, the experience was a bouquet of sensations, information, education.  I was fortunate to be part of the program, where I presented a demonstration of French cooking while explaining its fundamental roots in both terroir and the spirit of “grandmother”, notions which found resonance in my colleagues and the international public present at the conference.

Twelve hour roasted lamb, eaten with a spoon after slipping out the bone, on bulgur with chickpeas, at restaurant Lokmahane
Twelve hour roasted lamb, eaten with a spoon after slipping out the bone, on bulgur with chickpeas, at restaurant Lokmahane
Tahini with pomegranate molasses, part of a Turkish breakfast
Tahini with pomegranate molasses, part of a Turkish breakfast

The cuisine of this part of Anatolia, the wheat basket of the country, is rich with bulgur and succulent lamb, huge fresh figs and gorgeous blue cheeses aged in caves outside the city. It is aromatic with cinnamon, punctuated by tahini and pomegranate molasses, swathed in Kaymak (cream) and suzme yogurt (strained yogurt) , anchored by pastry-wrapped everything (bourek).

Not a model, just the yogurt man
Not a model, just the yogurt man

What I remember most, though, along with the multitude of flavors and textures, the sights and the atmosphere of Konya and its neighboring town of Sille with the church of St. Helena, is the exceptional warmth and generosity of the people.  With a kiss on the back of my hand, I offer you a few glimpses of Konya. (…and keep strolling for a simple, Konya-style recipe).

Curly peppers at t he Kadinlar Pazari , the women's market
Curly peppers at t he Kadinlar Pazari , the women’s market
view at Sephavan
View at Sephavan
The pipe is nine sections long, and takes 1001 days to make, and sounds like a symphony of angels. This man, an engineer, makes and plays the pipes.
The pipe is nine sections long, and takes 1001 days to make, and sounds like a symphony of angels. This man, an engineer, makes and plays the pipes.
Sausage casings, ready to be filled
Sausage casings, ready to be filled
The best lunch, at Baciyan-I Meram
The best lunch, at Baciyan-I Meram
Sac Arasi - pastry filled with kaymak (cream) and walnuts, from Baciyan-I Meram
Sac Arasi – pastry filled with kaymak (cream) and walnuts, from Baciyan-I Meram
Bamya - okra, used in soups, fresh and dried
Bamya – okra, used in soups, fresh and dried
Perfect stuffed grape leaves, the size of a little finger
Perfect stuffed grape leaves, the size of a little finger
Making Etliekmek
Making Etliekmek (traditional pita with meat – Turkish pizza)
Kandil Etliekmek (traditional pita with meat - Turkish pizza)
About to eat Etliekmek
Salvatore Denaro, Italy, giving a taste to Mrs. Nevin Halici, Turkey's august cookbook writer and scholar
Salvatore Denaro, Italy, giving a taste to Mrs. Nevin Halici, Turkey’s august cookbook writer and scholar, à la Elizabeth David, with Filiz  Hosukoglu and Anissa Helou
Pilaf with fruits and nuts
Pilaf with fruits and nuts
The Everything Dessert, with beans, corn, black currants, sugar, pomegranate seeds
The Everything Dessert, with beans, corn, black currants, sugar, pomegranate seeds
Turkish, in the Greek alphabet, as practiced in Sille (near Konya) until about 1922
Turkish, in the Greek alphabet, as practiced in Sille (near Konya) until about 1922, at the former Orthodox church of Agaia Eleni

bulgur

Print Recipe
APRICOT BULGUR
This is a very, very simple version of a Turkish side dish that resembles pilaf. It is ideal on its own or as an accompaniment to roast lamb.
APRICOT BULGUR
Servings
as side dish
Ingredients
Bulgur:
  • 1-1/2 cups dried bulgur
  • cup ½dried apricots preferably unsulfured
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 fresh bay leaf (or dried imported)
  • cup ¾cooked garbanzo beans
To garnish:
  • Turkish pepper paste OR medium-strength paprika
Servings
as side dish
Ingredients
Bulgur:
  • 1-1/2 cups dried bulgur
  • cup ½dried apricots preferably unsulfured
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 fresh bay leaf (or dried imported)
  • cup ¾cooked garbanzo beans
To garnish:
  • Turkish pepper paste OR medium-strength paprika
APRICOT BULGUR
Instructions
  1. Place the bulgur, the apricots, and enough water to cover by about 3 -inches (7.5cm)  in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium so the water is still boiling gently, add about ½ teaspoon of salt and the bay leaf, stir and cook until the bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving about ½ cup (125ml) of the cooking liquid.
  2. Return the bulgur and apricots to the saucepan, stir in the garbanzo beans and enough of the cooking water to moisten the mixture, and heat it over low heat until it is steaming. Adjust the seasonings, and serve.
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anita C. Lee

    Thanks for taking us with you to Turkey! Great photos!!

    1. Susan

      Anita, Delighted to have you along!

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