Anatolia: Turkish Cook Book Review

Back in May 2013, I exchanged a few tweets with Chef Somer Sivrioglu of Efendy Restaurant in Balmain when he posted a photo in the markets in Antep. It reminded me of the souks of Aleppo, and coincidentally, Antep (now called Gaziantep) is the city where my Armenian grandmother was born.

At the time, Somer was travelling around Turkey researching and writing his upcoming book. Today, it is a privilege to have a copy of the fabric-covered tome in my hands.

L-R: Anatolia Cover; Lahmacun *

The book is entitled Anatolia, paying homage to various civilisations, Arab, Armenian, Assyrian and so forth that have contributed to Turkey’s culinary influence. Co-written by Somer Sivrioglu and journalist David Dale, the book is divided into sections that follow a typical eating day.

Each turn of the page tells a story in Somer’s voice, often told with a sense of humour, be  it is a historical anecdote, a personal tale or a culinary tip.

Starting with a breakfast feast of over forty courses, there is katmer, pistachio pancakes with clotted cream, and simit, sesame rings or for the more hardy, lamb liver kebaps, a breakfast tradition from south eastern Anatolia.

Lunch introduces dishes such as Imam Bayildi, braised eggplant stuffed with peppers and tomatoes, the moreish Kayseri Manti, mini beef dumplings and an alternate version of the Armenian Lahmacun with spicy lamb mince on a thin, crispy base which was available at Taste of Sydney.

It’s rewarding to see recipes of several well-loved dishes from Efendy in Balmain: Spoon Salad with pomegranate and sumac, Midye Dolma or stuffed mussels, Vodka-cured Bream, Prawn kadaif with muhammara sauce and the grand dish of all, Kuzu Kapama, the Lamb Shoulder Pie.

Offal features in the book as it is a staple of the region. You’ll find lamb testicles on the menu, called Ram’s Eggs served with almond tartor sauce, a dish that I watched Somer demonstrate at Taste of Sydney in 2014.

It wouldn’t be Turkish cuisine without delectable sweets such as the Palace Pudding with almonds, pistachios and cream topped with pashmak. Of course, you’ll find kunefe and baklava and more sweet treats in the Afternoon Tea chapter.

Anatolia is beautifully photographed, from recipes to vistas from all around Turkey and snippets of local artisans and daily life.

Anatolia is not just a coffee table book you buy and forget. With most ingredients readily available, you’ll be inspired to take to the kitchen then book a holiday in Turkey.

Somer Sivrioglu at Taste of Sydney 2015

Anatolia is published by Murdoch Books and is available in hardback for $79.99.

* Photo of book cover and lahmacun courtesy of Murdoch Books, used with permission.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.