What to expect from Turkish cuisine

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 04 2014 07:47 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2014 03:51 AM

Chefs Harun Imre and Ramazan Edrem from Shangri-La Bosphorus in Istanbul. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – Want to know what Turkish cuisine tastes like? A hotel in Makati City is holding a food festival that celebrates the exquisite flavors of Turkey.

Guest chefs Harun Imre and Ramazan Edrem from Shangri-La Bosphorus in Istanbul are in town to prepare Turkish specialties to patrons of Makati Shangri-La. The food festival, dubbed “Treasures of Turkey,” will run until August 10 at Circles Event Café.

Imre and Edrem, who have over 20 years of experience in Turkish cuisine, will also hold a cooking demo on August 8 during their short visit to Manila.

During the media launch of “Treasures of Turkey,” Imre and Edrem sat down with ABS-CBNnews.com as they shared through a translator the common characteristics of traditional Turkish cuisine.

Use of herbs, spices

A flavorful serving of pan-fried beef liver with spiced onions and potatoes. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Turkish cuisine involves elegant and complex flavors, which are brought mainly by a combination of spices and herbs. Particularly popular here are oregano, chili flakes, cumin and dried mint.

Given their close proximity, Turkey and Greece have a lot of similarities when it comes to food, with the former usually slightly spicier than the latter.

A crowd favorite, this hummus is hailed as one of the best in Manila today. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
A delicate yet tasty bowl of eggplant salad. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Turkish food does not usually include sugar, unless it’s dessert.

Soup and salad in every meal

Soup and salad are important in a Turkish person’s daily meal, the same way that Filipinos love their rice.

Turkey is home to many kinds of soups, which are usually named after their main ingredient. Some are served piping hot, while others are better enjoyed cold. Salads, meanwhile, can include anything from vegetables to grilled seafood.

A comforting fish soup using garoupa. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Separate grains over tender, sticky rice

Tender, sticky rice is generally preferred in the Philippines and its other Asian neighbors. People in Turkey, however, like eating grains that are firm and nicely separated, resulting in a pilaf that is light and fluffy.

Traditional Turkish rice is sautéed in butter, with raisins and pine nuts also added to the mix.

Lamb is king

Expect to see a lot of skewered and grilled meat – whether it’s lamb, beef, chicken, pork or seafood – in a Turkish meal.

Despite the many options, lamb remains prominent and is considered an iconic element in Turkish cuisine.

Rich and juicy lamb skewers which taste great even without the sauce. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com
Tender beef skewers, one of the more familiar dishes in Turkish cuisine. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Sweet endings

A plate of very sweet desserts: (Clockwise from left) kunafa, Turkish delight, date with pistachio and marzipan, and baklava. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Those who have a sweet tooth will surely be satisfied with Turkey’s many desserts, from baklava and kunafa to Turkish delight, a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar.

Others who like their desserts on the bittersweet side, however, may find these overwhelming.


Lunch buffet at “Treasures of Turkey” is priced at P1,670 net from Monday to Saturday, and P2,026 net on Sunday. Dinner buffet, on the other hand, costs P2,008 net from Sunday to Thursday and P2,272 net from Friday to Saturday. For more information, call (02) 814-2580 or e-mail [email protected]