Photo showing spinach cake, pistachio pastry, Azerbaijani cakes, cauliflower fritters, jalebi and velibah

My Best Food Discoveries of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, here’s a rundown of my culinary highlights from the past twelve months!

  1. Turkish Spinach Cake (Ispanaklı Pasta)
Turkish spinach cake Ispanaklı Kek with cream on an intricately decorated plate with a fork
Turkish Ispanaklı Kek

Quick to make, healthy and surprisingly delicious. (It barely tastes of spinach at all). I could eat this cake every day of my life until death. Fact.

Find the recipe here.

2. Vegetarian Azerbaijani food

A metal dish containing Azerbaijani Kükü at Qaynana restaurant in Baku Old Town
Kükü

Azerbaijan isn’t known as a culinary capital however Azeri cuisine contains some amazing meat-free dishes. My favourites included the baked Azeri omelette kükü, crispy qutab filled with pumpkin, cheese or bitter herbs and the special pie from Nakhchivan region served with a creamy, sour yoghurt.

Read more about the best Azeri vegetarian food here.

3. Katmer (Turkish Pistachio and Clotted Cream Pastry)

Turkish katmer pastries in a colourful ceramic bowl
Katmer, Gaziantep style

This speciality of the Turkish city of Gaziantep is rich and addictive but surprisingly easy to make. There’s also loads of potential for customisation so you can edit your katmer to suit your taste.

Recipe here

4. Dondurma (thickened ice cream)

IMG_3083

So if you’ve never had thickened ice cream this might sound a weird one. In a number of countries across the Middle East (including Turkey and Azerbaijan), the local form of ice cream is thickened, usually with salep (a powder made from ground orchid root).

For some reason a thicker version of ice cream is so much more delicious, it seems colder, denser and even more refreshing. Even the plain version (sade) is delicious. Try it for yourself!

Read more here

5. Mshat (Middle Eastern cauliflower fritters)

A plate with three cauliflower fritters called mshat

These tasty Middle Eastern fritters can come in a variety of different forms but I found the cauliflower version served with mint leaves to be especially nice. Traditionally they are deep-fried but a baked version also provides a healthier option.

Get the recipe here.

6. Circassian Food

A Circassian Velibah with spinach filling decorated with white cheese, pomegranate seeds and torn basil
Circassian Velibah

How often do you get to try such an obscure cuisine? Circassians and their food are not well know to the wider world but they definitely should be.

Thinking I would never get the opportunity to actually try Circassian food, earlier this year I made my own velibah.

Several months later I was eating the real thing at a Circassian restaurant in Istanbul. Amazing. Find out more here.

7. Jalebi

Man eating Indian sweet called Jalebi

Jalebi are a notoriously unhealthy Indian sweet. “Recipe for diabetes” according to some.

However, I made a few changes in order to create a much healthier but no less delicious version. Recipe here.

8. A Morroccan breakfast

Breakfasts are so under-rated. One of my highlights from a brief trip to Fez was experiencing the delights of a Moroccan breakfast.

What more could you want than to have a breakfast table laden with toasted pancakes, spiced honey, sticky baked goods, oranges with cinnamon and a glass of mint or verbena tea.

Big plans for 2019!

So I feel like 2019 is going to be a bit different. I have some big plans for the year ahead and some exciting projects in the pipeline.

Feeling much more motivated, I’m very much ready to crack on with the New Year and look forward to seeing what other culinary discoveries are still to be made.

Don’t forget to follow my Instagram here for more regular updates.

Happy New Year!

 

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