Tas kebabı: This resembles the version made in restaurants in name only. Boneless meat is cooked together in a kettle with potatoes, small onions and quince. These are covered with a bowl (tas) while cooking. When done, pilaf is made from the juices that collect at the edge of the pot. It is served all together in a dish.
Et parçası: (Lit. “piece of meat”) A piece of meat is cooked with or without the bone, then put into water flavored with crushed garlic and tomato/pepper paste. Lemon is added, then either bulgur or rice for a pilaf.
Beyran: Similar to et parçası, but it is made without pepper paste and with boneless meat. According to former Gaziantep deputy Ekrem Cenani, beyran was one of the favorite dishes in the Ottoman palace under Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. In Antep there is a guild which prepares this as a breakfast dish.
Kelle: Made of the head and feet of a sheep or lamb, or even a young calf. It is flavored with garlic and a souring agent, and topped with red and black pepper. Some prefer it served over rice pilaf, hulled wheat stew or bulgur pilaf (tirit). Nowadays it is made in restaurants and is available at any hour of the day. When made at home, mutton as well as tripe is added. It is served with rice and hulled wheat mostly in home cooking.
Taraklık tavası: Steaks are called taraklık in Gaziantep. This dish is made with onions, tomatoes, tomato or pepper paste, pomegranate molasses or sour grape syrup.
Et kızartması: (Lit. “fried meat”) Similar to taraklık tavası, but made with fatty meat with the bone in.
Kamışlı yahni: Mad in the same way as et kızartması, but with the addition of a little vinegar and a generous amount of chickpeas.
Soğanlı yahni: Made from a large amount of pearl onions or regular onions cut coarsely, pepper paste, chickpeas and fatty meat with the bone in. It is also known as sarı yahni.
Çirli yahni: Made with dried apricots instead of onion.
In addition to the vegetable dishes of other parts of the country made with pepper paste and pepper, there is also a class of dishes made with yogurt. For this reason I will divide them into two categories.
Vegetable Dishes with Yogurt: In both this type of dish and soups which contain yogurt and other yogurt dishes, the yogurt is used with the addition of one or two eggs. The yogurt and vegetable dishes involve boiled meat.
After the yogurt is added, the dishes are garnished either with plain oil or oil heated with mint or saffron. These dishes are mainly prepared with potatoes, winter truffles, dry and green beans, broad beans, onions, garlic, the seedless portion of hairy acur, crocus and green garlic.
Dishes made with yogurt, meat and vegetables are generally known as aş; but the dish made only from green onions and garlic is called şiveydiz. Broad beans, beans, truffles, zucchini and hairy acur that have been dried for the winter are first simmered in water, then put into cold water before using.
Dishes with Meat and Pepper or Tomato Paste:Such dishes are made mostly with potatoes, winter truffles, broad beans, beans, garlic, crocus, thistle, okra, blackeyed peas, tender green walnuts, plums and tomatoes. When made with zucchini and eggplant, such dishes are called musakka. Other dishes in this group include yarım tava and unutbeni, both of which use small cubed or ground meat. In Gaziantep, karnıyarık (stuffed eggplant) is known is mıhşımıkşı. There is a variant made with the stuffing put in through the ends known as kazan kebabı (kettle kebab). The eggplants for karnıyarık are first fried in oil, and the ground meat is sautéed, while for kazan kebabı, both are raw when put into the kettle to cook. It is served with yogurt flavored with garlic. Another dish in this group is Kilis Kebabı. Eggplant cut into walnut-size pieces are put on a skewer alternately with ground meat, and cooked lightly. This process is called parpırlama. The “parpırlama’d” are then added to a mixture of fresh peppers, tomatoes or paste, onion and a souring agent which have been previously sautéed, and left to cook completely. Other dishes in the “vegetable and ground meat” group included doğrama, kabaklama and boranı. The first two are based on meat cooked with eggplant and zucchini (kabak); and includes a souring agent such as lemon or pomegranate molasses. Boranı is made with beet greens and blackeyed peas. There are twenty-one different dishes in this category.
Bulgur and rice pilafs are made throughout Turkey. In Gaziantep, another type is made as well, from ripe wheat which is pressed over a hot fire, called firik. All three types of pilafs are named according to the type of meat and other ingredients included. Here I will be content with mentioning their names and giving a brief description.
Rice Pilafs: Özbek pilavı, kapamalı, chicken or turkey, plain, pilafs with pepper or tomato paste, chickpeas, eggplant, truffles, ground meat and cubed meat, börkaşı, havuçaşı.
Özbek pilavı is a popular variety made with cubed meat, grated carrots and pepper paste. Kapamalı pilaf is made by boiling a large piece of meat and making a pilaf with its broth. The boiled meat is served on the pilaf. Börkaşı is made from boiled dried eggplant and kavurma, meat cooked in its own fat. Havuçaşı is made with carrots and kavurma. There are a total of twelve rice pilafs.
Bulgur Pilafs: There are twenty five different types of bulgur-based pilafs. These include plain bulgur pilaf, pilaf with pepper/tomato paste, tomatoes, cubed meat, ground meat, liver, lentils, chickpeas, split chickpeas, blackeyed peas and vermicelli, simit, çiğsimit (fine cracked wheat), malhıtalı, chard, zucchini, eggplant, purslane, herise (hulled wheat cooked with meat), meyhane pilavı and buğlama.
Firik Pilavs: These include kapamalı, tikeli, ground meat, chicken and turkey, as well as plain varieties. There is also one made with fine bugur called “firik simitaşı.”
Stuffed Vegetables (Sarmas&Dolmas) and Other Dishes
Just as in all parts of the country, stuffed eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, as well as vine leaves and cabbage are made in Gaziantep. In addition, there is stuffed cucumber, truffle, onion and potatoes. In addition to vegetarian (olive oil) eggplant, pepper and cabbage, there area also dolma made with zucchini, eggplant and hairy acur with bulgur and firik.
In addition, stuffed intestine and large intestine are made.
Kebab of cubed and ground meat as well as steaks are cooked in Gaziantep as they are elsewhere. The meat is ordered from the butcher according to the type of kebab to be made. Meat for ground meat kebab is chopped on a wooden surface with a large curved knife called a zırh. If we include all the cubed meat, ground meat and steaks, then there are around fifteen types of kebab made here. Some of the others not mentioned above are eggplant, fresh garlic, loquat, truffle, quince, tomato, onion, sour apple, çağırtlak, type served with mashee grilled eggplant, and chicken kebabs.
In addition to the well known fried puf börek and sigara böreks as well as su böreği, Gaziantep also has rice, olive and ground meat böreks. The famous lahmacun must also be counted here. Except for the rice börek, they are baked in the oven. The ground meat börek can be made with kavurma as well; the olive börek is made with green brined olives and kavurma, with the addition of onions and pepper paste.
Meatballs and Croquettes
As with the rest of the dishes, as we have limited space here I will have to be content with mentioning the names of the various köfte. The main ingredients for köfte are red meat and a type of fine bulgur called simit. However some of them are based on other ingredients such as kavurma, olive oil, butter, potatoes and eggs. In addition to simit, there are also köfte made from regular bulgur. The most famous köfte of the area is çiğ köfte, made with raw meat. There are around twenty-five different types of köfte here, there names are:
Etli Arap Köftesi, unlu, patatesli Arap köfteleri; etli yapma; unlu, patatesli, içli yapmalar; içli köfte; yoğurtlu, ekşili, akıtmalı ufak köfteler; simit kebabı; klözleme, sini köftesi; malhıtalı (crushed red lentils), kıymalı, yağlı, yumurtalı, mercimekli köfteler; haveydi köftesi; tene katması; iç katması; yuvarlama; zeytinyağlı iç katması. Some of these are kneaded in a basin, some are cooked in a pot and others fried in a pan. Sini köftesi is baked, while simit kebabı is roasted on a skewer. The ones held in highest esteem are çiğ köfte, stuffed köfte and ufak köfte (small köfte), as well as yuvarlama. This is a small type made with crushed rice and served with yogurt.
I’ve seen fit to put a few dishes in a separate category: karakavurma, alanazik, domatesli kıymalı söğürme, seytin mıklası, melemen, ciğer tavası, yoğurtlu yumurtalı bakla, kuymak, dürüm, kaymak, katmer-yağlı ekmek and topaç eritmesi.
Karakavurma ıs a very old Turkish dish, which is meat cooked with tail and body fat. It is made in every home during the Feast of the Sacrifice. Yağlı ekmek is a type of bread is made by stacking soft yufka bread with kavurma. Alanazik is a dish made with eggplant which has been roasted over the coals, then skinned and mashed with yogurt; this is topped with ground meat. Zeytin mıklası is eggs fried with green olives; melemen is tomatoes and eggs cooked with a generous amount of oil. Kaymak is made by allowing milk to stand in trays, then taking the cream off with lightly baked pide. This is topped with honey or sugar. Katmer is thinly rolled dough (yufka) which is filled with clotted cream, hazelnuts, walnuts or fresh cheese and folded, then cooked either on a griddle or in the oven. This is eaten as a sweet snack, and is also especially served to women who have recently given birth.
Salads, cacık, garnishes/accompaniments
As elsewhere in the country, cacık is made in Gaziantep with cucumbers and salads are made with cucumbers and lettuce, but other plants are also used in this way. Cacık may also be made with lettuce, purslane, parsley, wild mint, cooked truffles and beetgreens. Salads may be made also from purslane, wild mint, a type of wild green called aşotu (asafoetida), and grated carrot. Green onions, green garlic, radishes and cress may be served as accompaniments to meals. In addition, differently from other regions, pickles are also made from a local plant called hitaacur, fresh whole garlic, plums, white turnips and myrtle fruits.
One could safely say that the sütlaç (rice pudding), muhallebi (milk pudding) aşure (Noah’s pudding) and zerde made in Gaziantep are unrivaled in Turkey. The other sweets can be classified as sweets with syrup, şires and halvahsç
Foremost among the syrup sweets are baklava and sarığı burma, a type of baklava made with very thin yufka rolled in a turban shape. Other similar dishes include şöbiyet, dolangel, kadayıf, burma kadayıf, belluriye and kaygana.
Şire: This is made at home, from grape juice. The grapes are washed and juiced, and the juice is boiled in large kettles called masere kazanı. White earth (diatomaceous earth) is added; this causes any foreign objects in the syrup to sink to the bottom. Wheat starch is then added to thicken the mixture. This mixture, known as bastık, is spread thinly on cloths, and when dry, the sheets are peeled off and brushed with wheat starch to prevent them sticking together. They are then cut into square and rectangular shapes for storage.
The sheets of bastık is sometimes folded into triangular shapes around a mixture of walnuts or pistachios mixed with sugar; these are called muska (amulet).
Another use for the thickened grape juice is to dip walnuts strung on a thread into it several times, allowing it to harden between dipping. This is called sucuk (lit. “sausage”). Yet another treatment is to pour out the bastık a few centimeters deep in trays and allow it to dry. This is then cut into squares, and known as dilme (lit. “slice”).
When the grape juice is cooked with the fine bulgur known as simit, the resulting product is called tarhana. As with other sweets, walnuts or pistachios are added. Tarhana is sometimes heated with oil in a pan and served as a breakfast dish.
Halvah: Tahini halvah (the halvah most known in the west) as well as sesame and walnut halvahs are known throughout the country. Some halvahs unique to Gaziantep include those made with chickpeas and pistachios. There is also a type of flour halvah. This plain halvah is made with top-quality flour, and rolled out thin like yufka. These are spread with crushed walnuts, pistachios and sugar and stacked. This is cut into diamond shapes and wrapped in paper. At home, people make semolina halvah, as well as flour halvah with grape molasses, wheat starch, cheese and a type known as hac helvası, so called because it was formerly made for those going on the pilgrimage to Mecca (hac / hajj). It was broken up small and packed into bags. Halvah makers in Gaziantep also make various types with grape juice; this was formerly an alternative to sugar in the days when it was expensive and in short supply.
We can also add fruit preserves here, which are used more as a breakfast food than as a dessert. Specialties of Gaziantep include squash, quince and wild apricot preserves made with grape juice, and another type made from a local long thin variety of winter squash.