Thursday, 28 May 2009

Meat lovers only!

I recently returned from a trip to Istanbul where I was photographing for a book on Turkish food which is going to be published in Norway in 2010. Just my sort of project as the slant is on street or 'real' food as opposed to the gourmet side of things so I was able to spend my time touring the city, meeting people and seeing what transpired. Pat Yale, the writer of the book, called me one day to tell me that she'd discovered a place worth documenting in Zeyrek, Siirt Seref, a small eaterie owned and run by the family who had created the 'büryan kebab', an eastern speciality. Not for the faint hearted, the lamb carcasses that have been cooked tandoori-style (tandir in Turkish) in an underground pit that morning hang enticingly in the restaurant window. The chef de cuisine (above), the son of the man who first thought up this method of cooking meat, slices off the lamb according to your wishes, boneless, fatty etc, which is then served up on a piece of round pide bread freshly baked on site and in full view, so often the custom in Turkey. To accompany you can have a çoban salata ('shepherd's salad' of tomato, cucumber and parsley) and a refreshing ayran drink (slightly salty watered-down yoghurt drink). Also on offer is another speciality from Siirt in the east of the country, perde pilav, a fez-shaped pie with a filling of rice and chicken. Zeyrek has lots of places offering the same menu, after all the area does specialise in everything to do with Siirt at least foodwise, though for the real mccoy you will need to come here. Incidentally the family own the patent for the recipes.
What it is: For connoisseurs of Turkish cuisine and meat-lovers something a little different, a no-holds-barred kebab (büryan kebab) from eastern Turkey and an unusual rice accompaniment (perde pilav) served up in a family-owned establishment.
Where it is: Siirt Seref in Zeyrek just a stone's throw from Valens Aqueduct, up a side street off Kadinlar Pazar called Imam Niyazi Sokak. 

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