I shuddered barely after I heard what my eating companions ordered for their first meal: One girl opted for a mind and tongue soup, while another ordered the sheep’s head and ft soup. Going through a duration of successive travels, I wondered if I become in the right institution, or if I became flawed to understand the context of our vacation spot. We had been speculated to be heading for Didim Vegfest, the primary and best vegan festival of Turkey. Apparently, our first forestall on the way changed into Alo 24, a pide restaurant famous for its mythical pide varieties and its offal specialties. Knowing this, plus with the idea in mind that we’d be abstaining from all meat and dairy for the relaxation of our days throughout the occasion, my visiting friends made their choice to fulfill their carnivorous appetite. Seeing this, I did now not hold lower back and ordered an immensely pleasant portion of thick yogurt, retaining its shape indignity, as if a proud cheesecake, so dense that it could be reduced into slices with a knife.
I these days wrote a piece of writing approximately the vegan face of Turkish cuisine for The Guide Istanbul Magazine’s March-April trouble, looking to discover the vegan options here in Turkey. When I became writing the article, I observed that the vegan alternatives would possibly offer a much wider selection than I could suppose. Even to my surprise, the alternatives are quite giant. There are so many dishes in Turkish cuisine that are certainly vegan or could be turned vegan with the removal of sure substances. It may not be so difficult to be vegan in Turkey, may be with the unmarried exception that it’s far tough for us to surrender our yogurt. We like to use yogurt in maximum meze dishes or upload a big dollop of yogurt as an aspect to maximum warm dishes. But aside from that yogurt restoration, maximum dishes are devoid of dairy. Unlike maximum European cuisines, we do no longer use cream or cheese in dishes, and olive oil or different plant-based oils can without problems replace butter or clarified butter.
The Turkish cuisine might be perceived as a kebab tradition, however, in truth kebab belongs to the streets. In domestic cooking, it is the only-pot dishes called sincere yemeği, literally meaning “pot dish,” that takes the lead, that is practically a stew, but unlike its western opposite numbers, the beef is not the principle element. On the contrary, greens or pulses dominate. The meat present in a pot dish may be as little as a fist-sized lump of minced meat or meat cubes, and that minute quantity of meat will suffice to feed a circle of relatives of 4 or six people. Obviously, that could easily be overlooked. Actually, that is what the general public do with the rising charge of meat nowadays. One can without difficulty say that the everyday fare at houses can absolutely be meatless, with a little greater care to cast off eggs, cheese and yogurt, you may cook dinner vegan Turkish cuisine and survive in this effortlessly.
First of all, there may be this splendid class of dishes we call zeytinyağlı, literally that means “with olive oil.” These olive oil-primarily based vegetable dishes are unintentionally and deliciously vegan. They do now not (in no way and ever) consist of animal-sourced components, in order that they usually make a safe guess for vegetarians and vegans. The zeytinyağlı dishes generally contain only some ingredients, typically based on a unmarried vegetable, so one would possibly marvel what the secret that makes them so tasty is. The key’s hidden in the approach and a few smart guidelines. First, the vegetables are sautéed in olive oil with onions and from time to time a bit bit garlic. Usually the onions go in first, sweated in oil to launch all of the tasty juices, and then the vegetable is introduced to be completely covered with the oniony oil. Then there may be the untold secret of adding a bit of sugar, just sufficient to bring out the natural sweetness hidden in the vegetable. Usually one teaspoon is enough, or double the quantity of salt (my ordinary ratio), to have a good stability of saltiness to sweetness. Then with just the proper amount of water delivered, the vegetables are braised until the cooking liquid reduces to almost none, and what is left is splendidly cooked vegetables with a sauce-like olive oil emulsion that consists of all the flavor and goodness of the olive oil, vegetables and onions. Caution need to be taken now not to have a watery cooking liquid ultimate, to avoid this now and again a handful or one or tablespoons of rice are added to absorb the water. Needless to say, a zeytinyağlı dish is manner tastier than simple boiled veggies drizzled with olive oil as a dressing.
The Vegan Festival in Didim, a beach city on the Aegean coast, now on its 0.33 year, merits an interest to convey out the vegan capability of Turkish cuisine. Mayor Deniz Atabay, now re-elected for every other time period, is eager on maintaining the pageant, not simplest to emphasize the significance of veganism for the future of the planet, however additionally to attract worldwide attention toward Didim, with its terrific seacoast, its unequalled Altınkum seaside, which literally translates as “Golden Sand,” and its precise Apollon Temple and two very important historical web sites Miletos and Priene. I need to also brag about the truth that I actually have contributed to Didim as a recuperation architect within the beyond; my project for the conservation of Iİlyas Bey Mosque in Miletos, a really specific piece of the early Islamic period in Anatolia, won a prestigious Europa Nostra Award again in 2012.