Local gastronomy - Turkey




turkish cuisine traditional foods of black sea region pontos

 Turkish cuisine traditional foods of Black Sea region

Turkey has one of the richest Cuisines in the world and but a relatively poor restaurant culture. The Black Sea region follows the pattern: People eat delectable stuff at home-varied, inventive and complex. Restaurant fare is tasty and cheap enough; but it does get tedious after one is served exactly the same one dozen dishes, time in and time out, from Istanbul to Trabzon and from Hopa to Hakkari. Part of the reason may be that women do the cooking at home while it is invariably men who staff the eateries. Be that as it may, here are some regional specialties that the "Laz" eat at home but you will find in just about no restaurant, unless you ask, plead and insist.

Pontic cousine, Turkey cousine

Fish is the standard Black Sea fare, and hamsi the proverbial "Laz bread". It is available from October through May. In restaurants it is usually served as simple fritters. What an outsider thereby misses is, for example, hamsili ekmek- a sort of pan-fried corn bread made of leavened cornmeal, minced hamsi, parsley and a dab of peppermint. Hamsi boregi is a real masterpiece which involves crusty layers of hamsi-and-corn mixture, filled with a core made of rice, onions, pignolis, black currants and parsley. Hamsi jam is probably mythical.
Ekşili is a sour vegetable and fish stew that yields the best results with fatter fish like kirlangiç and iskorpit, although kefal (grey mullet) will do in a pinch. The Kale Restaurant in Trabzon serves a good ekşili. Located within the medieval city walls, it also qualifies as the region's only semi"fancy" eatery.


Trout (alabalik) is abundant in the region's fresh waters. But for some mysterious reason restaurants always seem to serve the farm-hatched variety which differs from its cascade-jumping wild cousin like flab from throbbing muscle. Ask about provenance, and don't settle for less than the real thing.

Meat is not a Black Sea forte. The closest one finds to an original idea may be the roadside "self-serve" meat restaurants which proudly display full carcasses of cattle hanging on meathooks. Patrons indicate the cut and receive a brazier to grill it as they desire.


Cows are put to better use elsewhere. The uplands produce a variety of dairy products, including some excellent cheeses. Ogma peyniri is made with herbs and spices, and adds zest to any breakfast. The best thing that comes from a cow, though, is a type of very dry cheese which is used to make muhlama (kuymak, havits), or cheese fondue. This is a Hemşin specialty involving equal amounts of cheese, butter and corn meal.
Another Hemşin original is the Hemşin helvasi, a tasty cake made with walnuts and pistachios. The vaunted laz boregi seems to be a variation on the Parisian cooks learned from the Russians at the turn of the century.
The top vegetable specialty of the region is dark cabbage which is used in a variety of homey dishes, including kara dollmasi, a succulent variation on the stan¬dard Turkish dolma. And while you are out for exotica, see if you’d like some püresi, or mashed poison ivy.











Asma Yaprağında Sardalya

Fırında Balık

Hamsi Kuşu

Kalkan Tava

Tavuk Şiş Kebabı

Sebzeli Piliç Güveci

Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarması

Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolması

Tarhana Çorbası

Ezogelin Çorbası










Kabak Tatlısı