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Yayla Çorbası, also known as Yogurt Soup, is a thick and hearty traditional Turkish soup from the cool and rainy northern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name, reflective of the soups origins, is derived from “yaylalar”, or the high mountain meadows of that region, which is also famed for the quality of it’s dairy products. The main ingredients – yogurt, flour, rice, egg yolk, and mint – are all easily-found staples of Black Sea and Anatolian cuisine. As with most Turkish dishes, recipes have been passed down from mother to daughter and neighbor to neighbor over the centuries, resulting in great variation region to region and kitchen to kitchen. Turkish families often serve this soup in winter, when the Black Sea drizzle chills residents to the bones, or when someone is fighting a cold. If you’re shivering when the suns dips down before you have time to fully dry off from a day’s swim, then this is the perfect soup to try at home!
You will need:
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 2 T flour
- 1 tsp salt
- White or black pepper to taste
- 2 T butter
- 2 T dried mint
- First, measure out the rice and put it in a covered soup pot with a pinch of salt and 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until the rice is soft. If you have boiled chicken legs/thighs (see “variations” below) then you can replace the water with the chicken stock.
- Measure one cup of yogurt (preferably whole) into a bowl. Whisk until the texture is completely even.
- Next, mix in the flour and beat briskly.
- Once the flour and yogurt are amalgamated, beat in the egg yolk. Keep beating until the mixture has a silky smooth texture.
- Once the rice is cooked, take one ladle of hot water from the pot of rice and gently stir it into the yogurt mixture to raise the temperature. If you skip this step, your yogurt might separate when you pour it in the hot broth.
- Gradually pour the yogurt mixture into the soup pot with the rice, whisking all the while.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Continue whisking until the mixture simmers. Take it off the heat before it boils.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter and dried mint in a saucepan. Once this boils, stir it into the soup and serve!
- Add chicken: Before cooking the soup, boil 1-2 chicken thighs and several bay leaves in water until the meat is tender and falls off the bone. De-skin, de-bone, and add to the soup when finished. For a complete recipe that incorporates chicken, see this recipe on food.com. While definitely not traditional, you can also add Turkey. Simply Recipes has an adapted recipe with Turkey and chickpeas here.
- Add chickpeas: cook chickpeas beforehand, or add drained canned chickpeas to the soup and cook together for the last 3 minutes.
- Substitute rice out for buckwheat. Buckwheat provides a nutty flavor and is lower in calories and starch but higher in fiber and protein. This recipe substitutes rice for cracked wheat.
- Top with mint butter, savory sumac, urfa isot (dark roasted pepper), paprika, thyme or cayenne pepper to suit your taste.
- There are as many variations as households in Turkey! Try a few more recipes here, here and here.
Terrified of trying Turish cooking on your own? There are plenty of great cooking classes around Istanbul and the Izmir Peninsula. If you’re vacationing at Çeşme or Izmir, we encourage you to try out Babushka Alaçatı!
Throw down your bags and enjoy your holidays with plenty of space to relax in these brand new detached family villas on the edge of town. Each two story, four bed/four bath villa comes with a full kitchen equipped with complete modern fittings, separate laundry room, second and third floor balconies, and a ceramic-tiled open plan living room with french doors letting out onto a private stone patio and personal pool.
Enjoy cool cross breezes and shaded picture windows designed to let in the light and keep out the heat. Upstairs bedrooms feature full windows looking over the patio and pool below and long horizontal windows to let in the ocean breeze. Attached bathrooms are done in the “Hilton Style” with luxury shower cabinets and high grade cupboards.
The complex is located not far from the center of Didim, enough out of town that there’s plenty of space for children to play outside, close enough for quick trips or a casual dinner. Public and Private beaches, the new Didim Marina, and plenty of historical highlights are also close at hand. For those who prefer to spend their vacations relaxing at home, the outdoor patio is paved and ready for patio furniture (which is easily found in downtown Didim) to host pool parties and weekend BBQs.
Though the residence is located in a low-crime neighborhood, your security is double-assured with installed outdoor spotlights and steel outer doors.
Specs: £152,000; 4 BA + 4 BR, 240 M2, detached home with private patio and pool, brand new residence
Here are 15 great blogs to check out if you are curious about living in Turkey, want to try out more Mediterranean Cooking, or are just searching for some travel inspiration:
- Turkey’s For Life: Julie and Barry, two UK citizens, share advice, recipes, and plenty of personal adventures on this extensive blog.
- Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Photos, easy-to-follow recipes and interesting tales woven together by an award-winning chef who also happens to offer online cooking lessons.
- Turkey from the Inside: Pat, a UK-origined former Thomas Cook travel specialist, travel book author and writer for Today’s Zaman takes readers on a whirlwind tour through the culture and history of many different Turkish regions
- Back to Bodum: An Aussie expat and her Turkish husband re-adjust to life in the Turkish countryside
- Pul Biber – With Everything (Red Pepper with Everything) Two retired UK expats living in Selçuk adjust from their fast-paced London life to soaking up the small town sights, smells and occasional serenity
- Adventures in Ankara: A Pennsylvania native and lawyer by profession shares her adventures and observations after moving to Ankara with her Turkish husband. Plenty of travel tips, trip reviews, and a culinary corner as well.
- A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: A 30+ year expat resident of Istanbul share’s the years’ best fare with recipes fit for every season.
- Slowly By Slowly: “Roadtripping through one Turkish-American marriage with a troupe of backseat-driving Karagöz puppets”
- Almost Turkish Recipes: Simple and tasty meals you can make in your own kitchen, regardless of whether you have access to Turkey’s extensive outdoor bazaars.
- From the Seven Hills of Istanbul: A Wisconsin native who has lived almost continuously in Turkey since completing her MA in Turkish Studies in 2009 now shares restaurant reviews and travel tips covering Bursa and Istanbul.
- Binur’s Turkish Cookbook: Recipes, tantalizing photos. What more could you want in a simple food blog?
- The Turkish Life: A SF native residing in Istanbul and writing about food, running, photography and the environment
- Far From the Sticks: An East Coaster residing in Ankara with her Turkish husband shares stories, photos and culinary adventures.
- Adana Adventures: Part travel /living guide, part blog written by an American expat living in Adana with his Turkish wife.
- Inside Out Istanbul: Lisa Morrow, author of Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City and Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries shares book reviews, life tales, and plenty of photos.
+ 1 Best of Bursa: An expat family shares their favorite experiences in a city they’ve come to call home.
Looking for More Reading: the Daily Sabah has also collected an “Ultimate list of expat blogs on Turkey” to be found here.
If you’ve been around the beach, you know the basics (or can find them here: Turkey’s Best Beach Food): gözleme, ayran, stuffed mussles, melon ice cream bowls, steamed corn, fresh fish. But what can you eat when you hit Turkey’s urban streets? Here are some of the must-try simple street snacks (or full meals) you’ll find in almost every urban center:
Head to the nearest wheeled glass cart labeled “halk ekmek” (“people’s bread”) or the small shop by the bus stop and grab a few simit for a simple start to the day. At first glance a simit may look a bit like a bagel covered in sesame seeds. Cracked open it can be eaten with soft spread cheese.
Tired of simit? Ask for a poğaça instead. At 2/1 lira they’re still quite cheap, and come with a variety of savory stuffings like olive (zeytin), cheese (peynir), or spicy sausage (sucuk).
Finish off your breakfast with a glass of strong Turkish tea or salep, a traditional drink made with powdered orchid root and flavoured with cinnamon.
Lunch/Quick Dinner/Midnight Snacks
Turkey’s most popular savory street food is the doner kebab (here known as durum) with long strips of lamp of chicken rolled in flatbread with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and the occasional french fry (curious about what defines a kebab? read our post here). But if you only know the doner… you’ve barely dabbled in Turkish street tastes!
Only got 10 minutes for lunch? One of Turkey’s most popular “fast foods” is lahmacun, a flatbread topped and backed with minced meat and a garlic-tomato paste, almost always paired with a cool glass of ayran (salty yogurt). Almost any neighborhood will have a lunch joint with 2 lahmacun + ayran lunch specials for about 5 lira. Don’t forget a squeeze of lemon!
If you’re seriously on the run, grab a tantuni or “Turkish burrito”. Tantuni are wraps composed of ground meat cooked on a wide metal plate with spices and oil then rolled up with slices of onion, tomato, cilantro and lettuce. Take it with a hot green pepper if you can handle extra-spicy.
Hit by 3 am hunger pains? Head for a kokoreç stand. While chopped sheep intestines might not sound appealing during the day, this savory, spicy and complex flavoured sandwich is sure to satisfy your midnight cravings.
Looking for something a little more sophisticated? Pide, often nicknamed “the Turkish pizza” is a boat-shaped oven-baked bread topped with everything from spinach and feta to chicken and tomatoes to ground beef and cheese. Expect fresh bread hot out of the oven, with the juices from the toppings just starting to sink into the dough. Ask for a side of tomatoes and sliced cucumbers with a sprinkling of lemon.
Vegetarian? No worries. bulgar-based Çiğ köfte is savory, sometimes spicey, and always delicious, whether eaten alone or in a wrap. Each region has it’s own recipe for Çiğ köfte though, as a rule, the ingredients include and bulgur, chopped cilantro, onion, tomato paste, spices, crushed garlic and salt. Again, everything is better with a slice of lemon!
In winter warm your hands and your soul with a cup full of hot roasted chestnuts (kestane) and served in a paper cone for 2-5 lira per portion.
Don’t forget that Turkey has great regional varieties in cuisine – while in Kayseri you’ll have to try the kayseri mantisi; in Bursa, iskender kebab, and in testi kebab in Cappadocia.
Hungry for more? We know you are… Check out these pages extensively covering Istanbul’s street food scene, and share with us you favorite street foods from around the country.
One of the most common questions popping up on travel forums this past week is whether or not Turkey is still safe for travel. So many tourists have been scared off by recent news of regional turmoil that the beaches are bare and top resorts running at half capacity.
But are people right to be scared off? Is there really a threat to tourists in Turkey?
First, a short situation summary: December-January of this past year witnessed the bombing of Turkish-Syria border cities, most famously Kobani, and the subsequent fleeing of Syrian refugees into Turkey. Most of those refugees have either been settled in refugee camps around Turkey’s South East, or have made their way to Istanbul to try and start a new life their or seek asylum in Europe. There have been scuffles with border police following the Turkish government’s decision to close the border to men wishing to turn back to Syria and take hand in the fighting after seeing women and children to safety.
Flash forward to June: during parliamentary elections the AKP, Turkey’s 12-year ruling party, finally lost it’s majority hold, in great part due to the HDP (Kurdish Party recently united with left-wing liberals) passing the 10% threshold and gaining 80 seats in parliament. There is speculation that the incumbent president and AKP head, Recep Tayip Erdogan, is attempting to forestall government-creating coalition talks and force early elections in the fall. The theory goes that, in order to win AKP support back from those who supported the HDP in the last elections, Erdogan is trying to cast the HDP with the PKK (a pro-Kurdish terrorist organization operating out of Syria) and demonstrate that the country will lose stability without a unified single-party government and strong government head. July 20th witnessed a suicide attack possibly initiated by ISIS in Suruc, a Turkish-Syrian border town. Following the attack, Turkey has bombed several ISIS strongholds in the northern Kurdish region of Syria. Unfortunately for Erdogan, his support has only slipped since the last elections and it is unlikely that an early election would bring the AKP back into power.
So…is it safe? Certain towns in the South East do seem to be having security/stability issues and it is not recommended to travel in those areas. Most likely nothing would happen (you’re still more likely to die from a lightning strike than a terrorist attack), but to be on the safe side, we’d recommend you avoid Diyarbakir and everything to the south and east. In Istanbul’s tourist areas you may encounter the same problems that pervade every large city: pickpockets, overpriced sandwiches and crowded trolley buses. Take your normal precautions as a traveler, and you should be fine. For everday safety tips, see our more general post here.
As for the Mediterranean coast – it is quite far from the Syrian border and any of the affected towns. Antalya is 1,162 km from Diyarbakir and 1,076 km from Kobani/Suruc. For comparison, Tijuana to San Francisco is less than 840 km – and few would expect the sporadic violence in Mexico’s border city to migrate up to the golden gate city. Having lived in Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago, where just crossing a single street could throw an unwitting pedestrian into hostile territory, I would say that it is quite unlikely travelers will encounter ISIS sunbathing at the beach.
Should I cancel my trip? Unless you were planning on hiking around South East Turkey, there’s probably no need. The rest of the country is still quite stable and enjoys lower crime rates than half the countries in Europe. We can’t promise that nothing will happen. No locale is completely safe – be it your backyard or some city halfway around the world. But it’s quite likely that you would pass your vacation in Turkey without incident – and enjoy deep discounts coupled with quiet beaches. Keep checking the news – but for more objective information remember to read reports from a few different news outlets, both national and international.
As turkeytravelplanner insightlfully summed up the situation:
You must answer this question to fit your personal tolerance for risk. If you believe the statistics and look at it rationally, you’ll probably go. If you’re going to worry about safety a lot while you’re there, the worry may make your trip less pleasant, and so you probably shouldn’t go.
3 year Istanbul Resident Joy at the blog My Traveling Joys came to the same conclusion: Every place has it’s faults, but you should be fine in Turkey. Read more on her post “Living Safely in Istanbul & American Ignorance”.
Looking for a flat close to the city center yet tucked up a quiet back street? This refined classical flat with big windows, a long balcony, and original woodwork is a charming and comfortable place to pass your days. While the building is only three years old, the apartment was designed with a classical touch, including warm woodwork frames throughout.
The apartment features 2 bedrooms, a bath, kitchen, and spacious living room with windows and french doors on two sides opening up to a wraparound porch. The master bedroom also features a french door opening onto a private balcony facing a shaded courtyard.
While the flat faces north, cream-colored walls and wide windows throughout ensure that the entire house is filled with light – and yet not too hot in summer. The apartment also comes with all the usual amenities – air conditioning, kitchen appliances, full bathroom fixtures. Owner-occupied, everything is but gently used.
Located on the ground floor, this flat is perfect for those who have young children and want to be able to watch them outside, or those who have trouble walking up stairs. The flat is located one block from the Migros supermarket, two blocks from Didim’s main AtaTurk BLVD and public transportation, and a 25 minute walk to the boardwalk and public beach.