SEZAI’s Ramadhan Memories

Ramadhan is both whimsical and spiritual for Chef Sezai Zorlu of Turkuaz and Warung Turki. Recently, the chef imparted his country’s culturally rich Ramadhan festivity for FoodieS.

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Ramadhan is both whimsical and spiritual for Chef Sezai Zorlu of Turkuaz and Warung Turki. Recently, the chef imparted his country’s culturally rich Ramadhan festivity for FoodieS.

WARUNG TURKI was bustling with activity. It was 10.30 am and the staffs were already busy for lunchtime service. Long days ahead for everyone here at Warung Turki since they will be open until late in the evening for Euro 2016’s crowds and before that, the iftar preparations.

The Sezai Zorlu that I knew and heard so much, the chef/proprietor of both Warung Turki and Turkuaz, is someone who instills discipline and idealism with his cooking methods. It was evident through his  crews’ busily preparing everything neatly but swiftly as well before the customers start arriving.

Finally, the man arrived. Dashing as always, with his sleek hair and attire entered the establishment with one hand holding the prayer beads. Like an old friend, Chef Sezai greeted me warmly and we sat – casually catching up since the last time he cooked us his special kağit kebabi a month before.

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Born and raised in the town of İskenderun, half an hour away from the war-torn Syria, it’s hard for him to not jump into talking about politics as his views would be unique on what’s actually happening in the region, but it’s better to stay on the course and talk about food. Chef Sezai’s eyes lighted up as he happily reminisced about his childhood memory of  Ramadhan.

“Ramadhan in Turkey is festive and very cultural. We have traditional treats and other customs that reminds me of my home and my childhood”, the chef shared.

Even starting from as early as suhoor, his family prepared the early meals very seriously. “I remember every member of the family participated with the meal preparation. My aunt was cooking, the bread was freshly baked, and then my mother would gently wake me up when the meals are ready”, says the chef with a nostalgic gaze.

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He then went to the length that Ramadhan in Turkey is all about togetherness. People who can’t get home right on time for iftar would not be worry as charity foundations would host passersby inside tents built only in Ramadhan and available on many corners of cities to treat their iftar for free, every single day!

“When it comes to food, Turkish people are also very mindful about what they eat during Ramadhan”, he said. “After you fast the whole day, the iftar consists of sweet delicacy that will help you gain your energy back. Here in Indonesia, people would go after fried stuff and that makes your stomach working so hard.”

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Besides gullac or the dry sheets made of corn starch and wheat flour added with milk, sugar, rose water, and sometimes spices and nuts; there are other unique Ramadhan treats in Turkey such as hoshaf or dried fruits with sugar and spices drenched in water. After absorbing the liquid, the fruits are served cold at room temperature. The fruits yield many nutrients and fiber while also keeping the sugar level low and these became a healthy yet refreshing iftar.

“The rest of the iftar treats are also rather modest. Turkish people usually have only two or three kinds of dishes and not entirely about meat. There’s a balance in everything”, Chef Sezai told us.

Clearly, there’s so much about finesse that Indonesians need to taste from the relatively unheard Turkish cuisine here in Jakarta. Sezai’s relentless effort in introducing refined yet authentic Turkish cuisine in Jakarta has garnered so much appreciation for both Turkuaz and Warung Turki.

Before we part, FoodieS would like to share you Chef Sezai Zorlu’s recipe of his childhood treat. We welcome you to try and let us know about it!

“ Turkish people usually have only two or three kinds of dishes and not entirely about meat.”

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Kağit Kebabi
Serves: 1

INGREDIENTS:
200 gr                 Minced lamb meat
2 pcs                   Green chilies, chopped
1 pc                    Onion, chopped
20 gr                   Parsley, chopped
1 pc                    Tomato, cut into
4 wedges
1 pc                    Whole green chili
40 gr                   Butter, cut into
2cm cubes
Black pepper and salt to taste

STEPS

  • Mix well the minced meat, vegetables, salt and pepper.
  • Spread the mix in a tray with 1 cm thickness (can be round or square).
  • Add the tomato, chili and butter on top of the mixture.
  • Put into oven for 20 minutes at 200C.
  • Serve with bread.

WARUNG TURKI by TURKUAZ
Jalan Kemang Raya No.18 Jakarta
T: +62 21 29055899
Facebook: warungturki
Twitter: @warungturki
IG: @warungturki


Written by Rian Farisa Photographs by Rian Farisa June 18, 2016.

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