{Jakarta} Turkish Cooking Classes at Turkuaz

If you know me well you know I’m obsessed with two cuisines, Mediterranean and Mexican (I know, so cliche). I am very fond of Mediterranean flavors, textures and spices and would gladly give up any meal if I was to eat hummus for life-sustenance any given day. We cook Turkish and Lebanese food at home sporadically and I always follow recipes that sometimes work out and sometimes end up being eaten by my supportive husband despite the epic failure they are.

When my friend the Diplomatic Wife told me that one of my favorite restaurants in Jakarta, Turkuaz, was having a cooking class I signed up right away. Funny enough a few very good friends were interested in the class, too so we made a fun girls “morning out” out of it and headed to Kebayoran Baru to the epicurean gem that is Turkuaz.

When we first got there we were greeted by bustling staff working on prepping the demo table awaiting the Chef Sezai Zorlu. I was delighted to see beautiful local fresh ingredients being displayed on the table and got really excited about what was to come.

Gorgeous Decor

Gorgeous Decor

The demo table

The demo table

Beautiful Fresh Ingredients

Beautiful Fresh Ingredients

Yum!

Yum!

Before the class started (we got there a bit too early thanks to me, sorry ladies), we sat down and sipped on Turkish coffee and tea. My goodness, the coffee was brewed to perfection and notes of Mediterranean spices and full flavors made it the perfect morning pick-me-up.

Before the Class I drank a deliciously rich Turkish Coffee

Before the Class I drank a deliciously rich Turkish Coffee

As chef Sezai arrived with his lovely wife Yanti  he gave us the recipe books and suggested we take a look at them and come up with any questions we might have. My only questions were regarding a couple of ingredients and he promptly responded to our inquiries.

We got our menus and reviewed them before the class started

We got our menus and reviewed them before the class started

Many of the people who came to the class have become regulars and as I was chatting with some of them I learned that this cooking class has been taking place for about a year now and each session has different dishes and recipes. I so hope I can become a regular myself! As more people started trickling in, the atmosphere became more lively and we were all ready to learn a few tricks of the trade.

The first dish Chef Sezai introduced to us was  Kisir, a bulgur salad which is usually eaten during the summer in Turkey. The crisp herbs and home made paste made this dish colorful, flavorful and fresh. As we all took down notes, Chef Sezai narrated stories about him growing up in Turkey and how his family made everything from scratch with beautiful fresh produce found on their farm.

Chef Sezai in Action

Chef Sezai in Action

Delicious bulgur

Delicious bulgur

Appetizer

Voila, Kisir

Chef Sezai encouraged us to experiment in the kitchen and emphasized that we shouldn’t panic in the kitchen, since anything can happen! A very wise piece of advice from him was not to try to catch anything that falls of the counter, particularly knives!

Perfectly cooked rice

Perfectly cooked rice

Great conversation, delightful aromas, and the sizzling sound of the ingredients being cooked led to the next two dishes, Karni Yarik (Stuffed Eggplant) and Sehriyeli Pilav (slow-cooked vermicelli and rice) . As we learned more about Turkish cusine, we learned more about our own tastes and shared with each other how we did thinks at home growing up. I mentioned that I am terrible at cooking rice on the stove top and that I rely heavily on the rice cooker. The chef was very patient and taught us how to cook rice perfectly. Chef Sezai told us that in Turkey grandmothers say that the Spoon should never touch the rice until it is cooked!

Chef Sezai was very patient with our questions

Chef Sezai was very patient with our questions

While working on the eggplant, we learned many tips about cooking lamb meat and how olive oil (never extra virgin) is the best oil to deep fry veggies in.

He demonstrated every step to perfection

He demonstrated every step to perfection

We were all very attentive and eager to learn from the master.

Working on the main course

Working on the main course

We were all very attentive

We were all very attentive

Finishing touches

Finishing touches

The piece de resitance was a beautiful Ottoman Zerde (Saffron pudding with pine nuts and black currant). As the flavors and aromas of the rose water, saffron and pomegranate filled the air, we all started getting hungry. We couldn’t wait to try all those beautiful dishes!

And this is how it's done

And this is how it’s done

Dessert

Dessert

The time came to sit down and delight on our newly learned creations. Everything was perfect in every way and I don’t think we could have enjoyed it any more. As we munched down our delicious meal, Chef Sezai joined us with a rose hooka and amused us with stories of growing up in Turkey, living in Singapore and finding the perfect life and love here in Jakarta.

Finalized Menu

Finalized Menu

It was even better than it looks!

It was even better than it looks!

The cooking class at Turkuaz happens on a monthly basis, usually on the second Wednesday of the month. The class costs 400,000 Rp. net and includes a delectable Turkish meal cooked from scratch. Drinks are not included. To sign up and for more information contact the amazingly nice Yanti on her phone 087 889 102 169.  You won’t regret it!

Turkuaz – Authentic Turkish Kitchen
Jalan Gunawarman No. 32
Jakarta Selatan
+62 21 7279 5846

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10 thoughts on “{Jakarta} Turkish Cooking Classes at Turkuaz

  1. This looks amazing. I will have to try the class and the restaurant soon. I love cooking. Have you seen tahini? I have been looking for it at the markets but haven’t come across yet here in Jakarta. Thanks!

    • Hi Stephanie, grand lucky and ranch have tahini. Beware that the local tahini (made in Bali) is made with peanut oil so it’s not super authentic. I use it anyway when I run out of the real stuff. It’s very good anyway. There is also a Mediterranean shop in Plaza Festival by epicentrum in kuningan. They have beautiful grains, freshly baked pitas and authentic spices including tahini and pomegranate molasses. Maybe we can take the class together next month! ;)

      • This alone might warrant me to venture out into the Kuningan area to get some freshly baked pitas :D

      • I know! They are excellent Maureen! And they have tons of beautiful grains and lebneh, and molasses and everything! It is a tiny little shop but so worth visiting!

  2. Okay, a few things:
    1. Yum. I think I have a new restaurant on my “must eat there” list.
    2. Agreed re. Mediterranean + mexican food. Last time I was in the US, I ate a taco a day (at least!!) for my last week. I couldn’t get enough. And anything that is cooked in a country that surounds the Med is totally yum.
    3. Do you have trouble sourcing Lebanese ingredients here? I am on the hunt for pomegranate molasses. Ideas??

    • 1. Let’s do lunch there sometime!
      2. Yes. yes and yes! Mexican and Mediterranean share a few flavors: sour, garlicky, cumin(y) hahaah… I would eat a taco or pita everyday if I could.
      3. I used to have trouble, but I’ve seen the light! The chef told us about a little tiny Mediterranean food store in Plaza Festival, by epicentrum. They sell pomegranate molasses, dry chickpeas, tahini, etc. a must visit to get your basics if you want to cook at home!

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