Culinary capital: Delhi has a new love affair: with Turkish cuisine

Pide, baklava, kisir and Urfa aren’t exactly weird names for Delhi’s food vocabulary anymore. Just as ice cream and polenta, or gyoza and onigiri, from Italy and Japan, respectively, entered the food nomenclature about a decade ago, authentic Turkish dishes are now making their presence felt on menus in the capital. national. Not only this, the city’s love of all things light, healthy and tasty has spawned a plethora of specialty Turkish restaurants, with some going so far as to bring in chefs from Turkey to keep their promise of authenticity.

Sharad Madan, co-founder of the Khubani restaurant in Aerocity, which opened earlier this year and has devoted a large section to Turkish food, says: “Turkish cuisine is identified with the Indian palette and flavors, which makes it more palatable. . It started being made in India about 20 years ago, but it has become popular in the last three years.”

Sharad Madan, co-founder of the Khubani restaurant in Aerocity, which opened earlier this year, has dedicated a large section to Turkish food.

Chef Onur from Turkey, who runs Ophelia’s Kitchens in Chanakyapuri and Cozy Box in One Golden Mile, says: “Turkish cuisine has many similarities with North Indian cuisine, that’s why it has grown in people’s taste. of Delhi”. In fact, he says it hits the exact same taste buds as North Indian food, adding that it has gained popularity in the last five years, when they launched Ophelia. To pair cocktails with Turkish food, Ophelia also hired a Turkish bartender.

Chef Onur from Turkey, who runs the kitchens of Ophelia in Chanakyapuri and Cozy Box in One Golden Mile

Chef Sagar Bajaj of Middle Eastern restaurant Diablo in Mehrauli says Turkish food is congenitally healthy and ambrosial, while its smoky flavors are uniquely suited to the Indian palate. Although it has its roots in India since the 11th century, the cuisine has now become commercially popular.

Pita breads from Rizq

Bajaj says that Turkish food is rich in flavor but light in spices, making it a perfect comfort food for dining out. But he adds: “To maintain its authenticity, it is important to learn the local techniques of Turkish cooking, use the regional products and keep the natural flavors intact.”

To satisfy the authenticity quotient, the restaurants feature expert chefs from Turkey. For example, Madan says that Khubani’s chef is an eighth-generation expert in Ottoman cuisine. “All the dishes he cooks are based on recipes from 400 years ago,” he says. “Adana kebab (minced lamb kebab) is one of the most favorite Turkish dishes in India.”

Executive Chef Nawras Mustafa Ayoubi of the newly opened RizQ in Defense Colony was born in Syria and has experimented with Turkish food in restaurants around the world.

Executive Chef Nawras Mustafa Ayoubi of the newly opened RizQ in Defense Colony was born in Syria and has experimented with Turkish food in restaurants around the world. He says: “Mediterranean cuisine is becoming very popular all over the world because people find healthy but tasty options there. Since the early 2000s, it has been gaining in popularity, as more and more people began to explore Greece, Turkey, Egypt and their food.” Ayoubi says that at RizQ, they also import ingredients and use authentic techniques of cooking and serving Turkish cuisine to keep an edge. The most famous Turkish dishes around the world include Doner shawarma, Ali Nazik kebab, Qawarma (confit-style preserve made from minced meat), and kafta of all kinds (each region of Turkey has its own kafta dish), he says.

Turkish Rizq Kebabs

Chef Onur adds: “With Adana kebab and urfa being the favorites as of now, there are plenty of options yet to be discovered for lovers of Turkish cuisine in Delhi. The way butter chicken-loving Delhiites have embraced its flavors, it will soon replace or be on a par with Chinese or Italian food in Delhi.

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