Review of Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Recipes from My Homeland

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Get cooking with Ozlem's Turkihsh Table

It was with great pleasure that I opened the pages of reviewing Ozlem Warren’s new cookbook Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Recipes from My Homeland. She’s already well-known for her website of the same name and the cooking classes she gives all around the world. In this collection, Ozlem not only shares many of her favourite recipes with us, she also shares her enduring love for her family and Turkey, the country of her birth.

Ozlem’s family originally came from Antakya, a place with a fascinating mix of cultures and histories, located in the south east of Turkey. She spent childhood holidays there with her grandparents, and she writes how her grandfather celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah with Christian and Jewish friends, and broke the fast during Ramadan with the Muslim community. Each and every occasion is marked by special dishes and everything sounds divine, from the lush meats bathed in fresh hot spices, to the desserts. As someone with a sweet tooth the desserts she describes made my head reel with pleasure – syrup laden baklava from Gaziantep covered in pistachios, and the out-of-this-world delicate strands of pastry that make up künefe. She also tells of her own children’s excitement at visiting their extended family in Turkey. These personal details make you feel like there’s a place at the table with your name on it too. We’re privy to her mother’s unique descriptions for food preparation, including dough made to ‘earlobe consistency’, and learn the family history behind many of the foods Ozlem loves.

Cooking a meal using Ozlem’s recipes is my idea of heaven. I adore hot and spicy food, and Antakya home town specialities such as muhammara and ezme are right up my street. If needs be, you can cool things down with yayla corba and cacik but don’t worry, there are plenty of non-spicy dishes to choose from too. The recipes are straightforward and easy to follow, which is great if you’re like me and tune out if there are too many ingredients and too many steps to complete.

The book is organised according to course, so it starts with soups and starters and ends with sweets. There are a good selection of vegetarian mezze on offer, as well as vegan and gluten-free choices. As someone who formerly had a wheat allergy I can tell you I never went hungry in Turkey. The main course section includes my all-time favourite meal, Circassian Chicken, a testament to Turkey’s multicultural Ottoman past. Naturally there’s a chapter devoted to Turkish breakfasts. Anyone who’s spent any time in the country at all will know that breakfast is not just a meal, it’s a whole event in itself. The photos of savoury pastries made me hungry for Turkish food and nostalgic for the many social gatherings I’ve attended in Turkey, filled with my friends, their children, parents and grandparents.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Recipes from My Homeland is ideal for those wanting to replicate what they’ve eaten at their local Turkish restaurant, and try new tastes and flavours from the southeast of Turkey. It includes a useful section on condiments and menu plans at the end of the book. I’ve already earmarked a number of the recipes to add to my repertoire, and if you want to do the same, click here to buy a copy.

Title: Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Recipes from My Homeland
Publisher: GB Publishing
Date: 2018
ISBN:  9781912031948

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