• Head over heels. (Chris Chen)Source: Chris Chen
With two Sydney restaurants up his sleeve – Efendy and Anason – Somer Sivrioglu has been delighting diners Turkish cuisine for more than a decade. Here he shares his pantry stocking and everyday cooking tips.
Somer Sivrioglu

17 Apr 2017 - 11:24 AM  UPDATED 3 May 2017 - 9:08 PM

Spice story

“There are a variety of spices,” Somer Sivrioglu tells us. “But contrary to popular belief, [the cuisine is] not that spicy. Turkish food has a lot to do about the balance, so it’s the sweetness and spice.”

So what are his top pantry picks? “Cumin is a very common spice that we use; cinnamon, as well, with the sweets; oregano and thyme are very common with meat dishes.”

Meet the man himself
Chef chats: Somer Sivrioglu on cooking Turkish
Turkish chef and SBS favourite Somer Sivrioglu brings a slice of Istanbul to Sydney with his second restaurant Anason. Chatting over baklava (air-freighted, of course), he tell us about meze menus, cooking for mum, and why Turkish waiters are “unbearably hospitable”.

Essential ingredients

“One of my mentors told me, “If you give me onions and garlic, I can cook Turkish anywhere”. We use onions and garlic in any form so, you know, red, white, purple onions, eschallots, shallots, spring onions. Same as garlic, [we use it] fresh, smoked and roasted.”

Garlic and onion aside, Somer says there's one protein that reigns supreme: “I come from a culture [where] when you talk about meat, it is lamb. If it is any other meat you name it by the animal, but if you say ‘meat’, it is lamb.”

And let's not forget everyone's favourite purple veggie: “Eggplant is the Turkish vegetable.” 

Tasty trick

Tomatoes and capsicums, known in as peppers, are also popular in Turkey, eaten fresh, cooked, smoked, powdered and in almost any other form you can think of. 

Somer tells us: “I always suggest to people, if you want to add a bit of Turkish flavour to what you do, replace the tomato paste you're using in your vegetable dishes with half-tomato half-capsicum paste.” Like many flavour bases this pepper paste (biber salçası) is packed with umami.

Find more than 20 recipes from Somer Sivrioglu here. 

Can't go past
Turkey's power couple: Eggplant and lamb
Bey and Jay, Wanda and Alex, George and Amal - now you can add now eggplant and lamb to the power couple list.
7 reasons to love Turkish meze
From rice-stuffed mussels and barbecued octopus to mouth-watering kebabs, turn up the heat and make some meze magic.
Lamb, silverbeet and feta gözleme

This filled Turkish pastry has become a staple at markets across Sydney and Australia. Made with soft dough rolled out until thin, it is then filled with any number of things, including the ever-popular spinach and feta. Here, we’ve used lamb, silverbeet and feta for a spin on the classic.

Have we got your attention and your tastebuds?  It's all about Turkish cuisine on this week's episode of The Chefs' Line airing weeknights at 6pm. Check out the program page for episode guides, cuisine lowdowns, recipes and more.