Anatolia’s 100+ recipes and stories provide an impressive variety that are worth exploring.
The quality of high-end cookbooks released by Murdoch Books is often something to celebrate, both in their presentation and information. Offering a travelogue as much as a feast for the eyes and taste buds, the range extends across cultures and landscapes. And while not all may be perfect, they collective create an exquisite sensory library to take you around the world.
Anatolia brings us to Turkey through the combined expertise of restaurateur and Masterchef Turkey judge, Somer Sivrioglu, and journalist David Dale. The latter is convinced that “Turkish will be the next international phenomenon and Somer the next Ottolenghi” [Yotam Ottolenghi is a celebrated Israeli-English chef, restaurateur, and food writer].
This exquisite hardcover book is brought to life with stunning photography of both the food and the place by Bree Hutchins. The authors introduce the language, food regions of Turkey and their fifteen favourite ingredients and wines. A beginner’s glossary sets up the reader for pronouncing things correctly and understanding what specific foodie terms mean. The ample introduction of over 30 pages concludes with The Top Ten Techniques used, including stuffing and rolling, baking, stewing, spicing, drying and pickling.
The colour contrast is not always the best in Anatolia, with the combination of brown text on a beige background used frequently. The small font size may also cause issues for those with a vision impairment, but a lot of information is packed into almost 300 pages for those who don’t have difficulty reading the tome.
The five main recipe sections are Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Meze (small plates) and Dinner. Each begins with a cultural overview of the meal, with interesting facts such as the preference for tea in the afternoon. Ample other interesting facts and suggestions are spread throughout the recipe pages.
The ingredients list sits alongside the cooking method which is presented in paragraphs that can be difficult to follow due to the tiny font size. To find specific recipes, there is a four-page index at the back which outlines the vast array of dishes presented in Anatolia and offers a separate, highlighted list of the 20+ vegetarian dishes, although many others can be adapted to suit vegetarians and vegans.
Turkey’s 4,000 year old cooking culture and the importance of meals for family and community, ensures Anatolia’s 100+ recipes and stories provide an impressive variety that are worth exploring.
Ispanakli Kol Boregi – Rolled Pastry with Spinach and Feta (page 56)
The good ol’ spinach and feta pastry is a staple in western society now almost as much as it is in other cultures. I was excited to try my own, with the twist of creating a spiral pastry dish that would have looked amazing if I had any artistic talent. Alas, I don’t, but a quick cut with a knife soon hid my lack of style so we could enjoy the taste of this surprisingly easy dish. There’s more to it than one would assume but the addition of spring onions, mint and other surprise ingredients made this rolled pastry a winner. The simplicity of putting it all together also worked in favour of this recipe that has already been made a second time in my household.
Dugun Corbasi – Wedding Soup with Chicken and Yogurt (page 105)
Wedding soups are simple fare that are designed to cater for the masses. Indeed, this recipe claims to serve 8 but there was so much of it, I’m sure I could have fed the neighbourhood. It’s a bland but filling dish if cooked with chicken. Lamb would be a more flavoursome alternative. It’s also quite fiddly, with different components cooked separately and then brought together at the end. In a village, it can take up to 24 hours to make a wedding soup. This version is much quicker but does take a lot of time, including the need to soak your chickpeas overnight and to strain your yoghurt for 3 hours if following the recipe faithfully. For myself, I needed more flavour, which was easily accomplished with extra salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemon. With those additions, the Wedding Soup was light in flavour but enjoyable. For the time and effort however, I might hold off on this one until the next family wedding.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: December 2019