Simit and Turkish tea - simit and çay

December 14, 2016

Pomme Larmoyer’s Istanbul Cult Recipes is a compilation of recipes from Istanbul cuisine and recommendations of where to go and eat when you visit. Take your pick of lively Turkish breakfasts; linger over delectable plates of meze; try your hand at making breads, wraps and kebabs like those sold from the city's food carts, and master the art of making sweets such as baklava, helva and, of course, the unctuous Turkish delight.


With maps highlighting some of the author's favourite food destinations and profiles on some of the city's proprietors and chefs, let Istanbul Cult Recipes envelop you in its passion for Turkish food. 


We think this would make for a wonderful lil xmas pressie, because who doesn't love Turkish food, it's absolutely amazing. We managed to get our hands on a little sneak, peak...just for you. So why not have a go at this lil recipe.





Simit is the bread of Istanbul. It is its beacon, its symbol, a safe bet – sold everywhere for a single lira. It even travels with its street vendors in little red carts that look like the old trams that run along Istiklâl Caddesi, Istanbul’s main pedestrian and commercial thoroughfare. You could eat this sesame-covered twisted crown with a sweet aftertaste all day long. That’s what Istanbulites do in any case.


Preparation time: 15 minutes

Resting time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes


Makes 3 simit

2 teaspoons dried yeast

200 g (7 oz/11/3 cups) strong flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) water

90 ml (3 fl oz) pekmez (grape molasses) (see note)

sesame seeds


Blend the yeast with a little lukewarm water in a small bowl, and leave to stand for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast mixture and water (do not let the salt and yeast come in direct contact with each other) until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead for a few minutes until smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl, and cover with a damp tea towel (dish towel). Leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size (a warming drawer in the oven at a very low setting – 30°C/85°F – is ideal). Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).


Knock back the dough, and quickly knead until smooth and elastic once again. Divide into three 100 g (31/2 oz) balls, and shape each one into a long sausage, about 60 cm (24 inches) long. Fold each sausage in two and twist along the length, before shaping into a ring (overlap the ends about 3 cm/11/4 inches). Set out two small plates. Pour the pekmez into one and the sesame seeds into the other. Dip each dough ring first in the pekmez, then in the sesame seeds, until well coated. Arrange the simit on a baking tray, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.



Tea is the most-consumed drink in Turkey. What’s more, the country is one of the world’s leading tea producers. Tea is the first brew of the morning, the one that welcomes a friend to the home and the one that you see carried around the streets of Istanbul on round trays all day long, by vendors who are constantly in motion.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Infusion time: 15 minutes

1 teaspoon loose black tea per person

granulated sugar, to taste


Fill the lower part of the çaydanlIk (Turkish teapot) with water, and put the tea in the upper part. Place the teapot over medium heat. After the water comes to the boil, pour some over the tea, and leave it to infuse for 15 minutes (keeping the lower part of the teapot over low heat; the water must remain hot). Pour the tea into a glass until about one-third full, and top up with boiling water. Sweeten with sugar.


Note: Pekmez, or grape molasses, is made from grape must that has been reduced to a syrup, to intensify the sweetness. It is available from Turkish or other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food shops, or online from specialist food suppliers.





Images and recipes from Istanbul Cult Recipes by Pomme Larmoyer

(Murdoch Books $49.99)


Pomme Larmoyer is a food writer, editor and traveller. She believes you can learn everything you need to know about a country from its kitchens and enjoys talking with other people from other cultures about their style of food.

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