More Food from Istanbul

Big Bazaar

We are still in Istanbul. A city on two continents. Full of mosques, vendors and bazaars.

Big Bazaar

We walked the halls of Big Bazaar. Carpets, nargile, spices… And lamps.


Ziya Baba

Ziya Baba

When it came to food we’ll eat while on the road, the idea was to skip the restaurants serving continental food for the less courageous tourists and try as much local, authentic food as possible. Therefore, we asked our host to recommended a place he likes to eat at and where the food is good. He was happy to recommend Ziya Baba slow food. There, he said, he eats almost every day.

Turski doručak

We wanted a kebab, but it’s only 11 am and they serve only breakfast till 12 :| OK, we take menemen – tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and eggs. We’ll finish it till 12 and then we can continue with the kebab. To go with it, we get ayran, a cultured milk product, very nice and mild.


We finish our breakfast just a few minutes before 12, but on that day, October 31st 2010 was the daylight saving time and at that moment it was not 12, but 11. Damn!


We decide to take a walk through the neighborhood to kill the spare hour, but Mateja really wanted to go to the Taksim square and after about 15 minutes we decide to skip the kebab and go to the square.

By the time we got there, it was almost unaccessible. So many army and police. It was The Day of the Republic and the president was supposed to be there, so we thought that’s why there is so many security. What happened is that a suicide bomber blew himself on the center of Taksim and hurt many people. For a long time there were no terrorist attacks in Turkey due to the truce made by the government and the terrorists. That day was the day that the truce ended :( Good thing we went to Ziya Baba.

Istanbul Restaurant & Café

Istanbul Restaurant & Cafe

Istanbul Restaurant & Café exists since 1912 and serves traditional Turkish food in one of the streets near Big Bazaar. One of the waiters speaks Serbian and shows us inside to meet the cook, also from this part of Europe.

Istanbul Restaurant & Cafe

So many dishes. And they all look great.


We had eggplant mousaka…


…sarma (minced meat wrapped inside cabbage leaf) and lamb.


For the desert, we decide to skip the baklava (why, you’ll see soon) and we take kadaif…

Kemal Pasha

… and kemal pasha – one of the best deserts I’ve ever had. Later, when we got back home, I tried to find a recipe, but, it is made with pre-made store-bought dough soaked in syrup. The dessert comes from the town Mustafakemalpaşa and the dough is made with the local fresh cheese and it’s served with kaymak (although our came without it).

Karaköy Güllüoğlu

If you read the post about the Cannoli & Friends festival, you know that there I met the Turkish baklava champion. His baklava shop Karaköy Güllüoğlu was one of the must see places while in Istanbul. I had his business card that had a drawing of the Galata tower and don’t know why, but I thought it was just inside it’s dome.

When we got in front of Galata we found a mile long queue. Maybe the queue is for baklava? :P Yeah, right. No baklava shop inside the tower. I kept showing the card to the people around but nobody knew where it was. We kept circling around the tower until we found a local guy who showed us the direction. After about half an hour walk we finally got to the shop, but it was closed! Could not believe it. I wanted to cry.

Istanbul fishermen

When we decided to go back we saw a guy coming towards us holding a bag with the shop logo! Somehow he managed to explain to us that the shop has moved to another location. Oh, the happiness! it is on the other side of the city, never mind, we will see it :)

Karaköy Güllüoğlu

It’s a kind of self service. You go around, point with your finger and they put it on your plate.


Here we got kaymak with one of the baklavas. Something between milk skin and heavy cream. Very heavy and not my kind of treat.


They make a damn good baklava. Especially the chocolate one :)

Obama Baklava

Unbelievably, the owner, my buddy from Sicily was there. We recognized each other and I wanted to have a photo of us together. As Mateja was about to press the button, the owner started to shout and wave his hand as if he wanted us to wait for something. He called for a waiter and the guy went inside the store and came back with a picture of Obama! Made out of baklavas! :))))) Epic!

Gozleme, Manti & Salgam


One of the things you can’t but notice as you stroll the streets of Istanbul are gozleme. They call them Turkish stuffed pancakes and are made by women that sit by the window of the shops.


Thay can be stuffed with almost anything. We tried the one with carrots, potatoes, spinach and fresh cheese.


It’s amazing, but it’s not a pancake :)


We also had manti. There is something called mantije in Serbia, and it came here with the Ottomans, so we thought it will be similar, but it’s actually a cooked pasta, like Italian ravioli, stuffed with meat, with yogurt and garlic sauce, a bit hot. Perfect.


In the previous post I told you how there were pickles to buy on the streets. Seemed gross and we didn’t try it. This must be even worse and I had it :P Salgam is made out of pickled black carrots, salt and juices from pickled radish. Absolutely impossible to describe how terrible it tastes. Just the taste of it will shrivel every single muscle on your face and you won’t be able to wash that terrible taste for a long time :)

… to be continued …

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  • Rosa June 8, 2011 11:46 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with us… Istanbul is a place I’d really love to visit and Turkish food is simply to die for!



  • Felicia June 8, 2011 11:46 am

    It looks incredible! Istanbul is now on my short list for places to visit!

  • Eoc June 8, 2011 11:51 am

    You had a delicious journey :) There’s a recipe for kemal pasha. I hope you read Cyrillic :)

    • Marija June 8, 2011 1:01 pm

      Yes, thank you!

  • lusitania June 8, 2011 11:59 am

    fenomenalno!!!!!! tako bih rado ponovo u istambul!!!!

  • Banu Bingor June 8, 2011 1:44 pm

    Hi Marija :))
    I still couldn’t find time to go n get the kemalpasha brand which is the best one I know. I’ll do it soon. And yes I hope next time we will organize the meeting better :))
    I’ve never dare to taste that salgam juice lol Here some die for it (especially it’s such a favorite drink in south-east of Turkey) but it’s not my type of drink :D
    And btw… The next time you come over here I’ll show you a really good baklava. Yes Gulluoglu is the most famous one, however it’s not the best in my opinion. And I guess they do it better in their hometown in Gaziantep. We’ll visit Gaziantep this November, and I’ll see if I’m right or not. But the shop in Istanbul lost it’s quality for the last few years… Anyway… You may come again soon, or we may come to Serbia no matter what Kemalpasha and better baklava will be eaten together :))) Cheers!

  • Banu Bingor June 8, 2011 1:49 pm

    Oh I guess mantije is something like “Boshnak mantisi (Bosnian manti)” as we name here in Turkey. Is mantije a kind of “borek” baked in oven and then served with yogurt?

    • Marija June 8, 2011 2:55 pm

      Yes, something like that :)

  • Пепеляшка June 8, 2011 10:34 pm

    Супер, няпомня ми моето пътуване и кулинарно преживяване :

  • LINA June 9, 2011 1:35 am

    ajme, onesvijestit ću se :) prošlo ljeto sam bila u tom predivnom gradu i još uvijek imam u glavi sve boje i zvukove, mirise i okuse – a kad gledam slike kao da sam odjednom tamo…. hvala na divnom podsjetniku :)

  • Jenny June 9, 2011 10:40 pm

    Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories of Turkey.

  • Nevena June 10, 2011 1:59 pm

    wow, fantastično ! Hvala ti na ovom postu, obožavam ovakve reportaže, i sve bih isprobala jer sve izgleda taaaako finooo :)))), pogotovo čokoladna baklava – sad bih je isti čas išla radit! Pozdrav :))

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts June 10, 2011 5:57 pm

    What an amazing adventure!!! Wonderful pictures!

  • Tamara June 11, 2011 10:49 am

    Koji fantastičan post. Ta zanimljiva kultura, toliko zanimljivih jela, meni sve ovo tako dobro i fino izgleda. A ovaj Obama od baklava-za pamćenje :)

  • tamara June 13, 2011 12:45 pm

    kad sam pročitala tvoj post, poželjela sam otići u Tursku!!
    isprobati sve te boje, mirise i okuse

  • Jasmina June 20, 2011 1:40 pm

    Great photos. The cuisine in Turkey is delicious.

  • Ilke June 21, 2011 4:06 pm

    You just made me cry! So many beautiful pictures from my city! I am glad you ate at Ziya Baba. He has the best homecooked meals! I am so amazed with your pictures! Very beautiful post!

  • irenalana July 10, 2011 3:59 am

    Divan clanak! Ima li negdje recept za ove gozleme mnogo mi se svidja kako izgledaju i rado bih probal ada ih napravim

    • Marija May 20, 2012 9:07 am

      Ja nisam našla :(

  • Wally August 31, 2011 5:06 am

    lovely article about impressions of food from Istanbul. had a meal there years ago at a former madrasa outside of the city, it was like something out of 1000 nights…
    your recipes are really good… thank you…
    Wally, Auckland, New Zealand

  • big john September 28, 2011 7:34 am

    Joj, what pictures and Obama craked me up. Now the pictures of all the food made me salivate so much I think I swallowed a cup. Anyhow did you have any burek while there? I loved the baklavas the most. Made me want to go there and do a food safari.

    • Marija September 28, 2011 8:41 am

      No, I didn’t get burek there as we eat it in Serbia all the time. There was just too many food and I had to make choices, so I skipped what I already knew :)

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