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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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.
We were all very attentive and eager to learn from the master.
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!
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.
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
+62 21 7279 5846