Istanbul is my hometown. It is the city where my ancestors settled down. It is the city where I was born, I grew up, I did my studies, I got married. It is the city which I adore.
Yes, Istanbul is a truly incredible city. It is surprisingly lively and modern but it also has ancient history and old traditions. Its beauties may be hidden, you have to know where to look at. It is a city of many contrasts, many faces. It is big, it is loud, it is hectic, it is chaotic (as most cities of its size) but it is also very vivid, trendy, astonishing, enchanting, colorful and diverse. It is a city of endless potentials, and it never sleeps.
When I visit Istanbul, I love visiting my favorite bakeries, cafes and restaurants. Who can say no to a crispy simit, the most iconic Turkish street food? A delicious caramel 'cup griye' at Baylan Patisserie? A to-die-for kazandibi from one of the many muhallebicis of the city? A divine dönerli sandwich in a pita? A meze spread in one of the meyhanes of the city? Of course my mom's 'filikas', those cheese filled Sephardic savory pastries alongside a traditional cup of Turkish tea?
ISTANBUL OFF-THE-BEATEN TRACK
Istanbul is always a unique experience. It is definetly worth a visit and not only once! Plus every street corner is a culinary haven. Does Istanbul make you dream? Join me as I'll lead my off-the-beaten-track walking and tasting tour in May 2023 as part of the Savor: Sephardic Music and Food Experience with dear friends Sarah Aroeste and Susan Barocas. For futher info click here.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH
Dating back to the Ottoman times kazandibi is one of the most iconic Turkish desserts. Literally meaning the bottom of the pan/caldron, kazandibi is one of my favorite 'sütlü tatlı' milk-based desserts, where we have a whole repertoire of different examples, one tastier than the other. This 'milk pudding' has a burned bottom giving a caramel flavor to the dessert, which contrasts quite nicely with the sweet and milky flavor of the interior. I love the kazandibi when it is thick and strong and it becomes addictive with a dash of cinnamon on top. A dessert to die for😋
The ingredients are easy: full fat milk, corn starch, rice flour, sugar, mastic gum or vanilla... Yes, it can be prepared at home though it needs some experience to get the bottom evenly burned and to roll it over properly. But be assured, you can also serve it in thick sqaures; it will not change the taste!
If you ever visit Turkey, don't miss to taste it in one of the "muhallebici" (specialised pudding shops) , Özsüt, being one of my recommendations.
KAZANDIBI - TURKISH BURNED MILK PUDDING
800 ml full fat milk*
2 spoonful rice flour
1 spoonful corn starch
100 gr sugar
1 small piece of sakiz mastic gum (crushed) or vanilla (optional)
Crushed nuts, cinnamon (optional)
Put the milk in a saucepan, Add the rice flour, corn starch, sugar, and mastic gum/vanilla and whisk until you get a smooth mixture,
Cook the pudding over medium heat until it thickens,
Pour it into a 24-26 cm non-stick pan,
Put the dish over the stove on medium/high heat until the buttom is caramelized,
Remove the dish from the heat and set aside until it completely cools down,
Cut the kazandibi into long slices and roll each slice around itself. Or cut into squares and turn it over.
You can serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or crushed nuts,
*You can use 600 ml full fat milk+200 ml heavy milk cream to have an even creamier version.