Turkish Cuisine Week KL
Words: Monica Tindall
Photos: Rich Callahan
From May 21st to May 27th 2022, the Republic of Türkiye presents Turkish Cuisine Week at Lemon Garden, Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur! Diners have a chance to appreciate Türkiye’s deep-rooted culinary tradition buffet-style for one week only in the hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant.
With direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul, Turkey is increasingly becoming a destination of interest. Diverse experiences highlighting architecture, tradition, culture, lifestyle and, of course, food make for enriching travels.
Shaped over thousands of years and various cultural civilisations, Turkish cuisine is rich in heritage and flavour. The essence of these recipes is spread beyond the borders of İstanbul and Anatolia to the Balkans, Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. With special recognition by the Michelin Guide, Istanbul is the theme for the menu. A healthy, sustainable, and creative cuisine makes it easy to understand its acclaim.
Of particular note is the importance of wasting nothing, something that should resonate with those trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle or any woke human understanding the significance of sustainability. What was once a principle of many traditional cuisines has been lost in the modern world. However, Turkey, with its preservation of foundations, has never waivered from these practices that are so significant. Chef shares examples such as turning dried bread into crackers and the peels of fruits in a jam. We see other examples throughout our tasting menu today too.
Turkish Cuisine Week KL Buffet
The Turkish Cuisine Week in KL buffet will feature 35 different recipes, including appetisers, main courses and desserts, with options for vegetarian and vegan diets as well. Rich and I get a preview with a sampling of some key dishes.
Appetisers (Istah Acicilar)
We start with one of the chef’s most beloved recipes, Zeythinyagli Enginar, artichokes braised in olive oil. He reports pulling the recipe off his mother’s dusty shelf and estimates it to be perhaps 200 years old. Delish!
I also love both the Patlican Salasti or eggplant salad and Acili Ezme or spicy tomato salsa. Each piece of aubergine has been smoked individually over recycled coconut charcoal. It’s blended with lemon juice and Turkish olive oil. The salsa is rich and thick and wonderful inside a piece of bread.
The Kisir, bular with tomato paste, is also pretty tasty. The last of the appetisers are a duo of rolls – Lahana Sarma, stuffed cabbage leaves with rice, and Visneli Yaprak Sarma, stuffed vine leaves with rice cooked in olive oil and sour cherries. The leaves have been shipped all the way from Turkey – you can’t get too much more authentic than that.
Truth be known, I love my veggies and the mezze style of eating so much that I could happily begin and end here. There is more, though, much more.
Salata (Salad Bowl) & Ana Yemek (Main Course)
The Coban Salatasi, a fresh vegetable cube salad with feta cheese and kalamata olives dressed in olive oil and lemon juice, is an excellent companion to the more intense mains.
Tandir (lamb leg confit) on Ic Pilav (rice with lamb liver and sultanas) is rich and meaty. The Hunkar Begendi (lamb stew with velvety eggplant puree) is absolutely delicious, with a light smokiness to the puree. Lastly, Balik Bugulama (steamed seabass with vegetables) is guaranteed to satisfy healthy diet preferences.
However, all attempts at moderation are soon forgotten with the delivery of a sweets platter. The chef has lined up a series of tasting pieces and cleverly dusted a cityscape of chocolate powder as the background. Cervizli Kabak (pumpkin confit with walnut), Irmik Helvasi (warm semonlina halwa), Su Muhallebisi (rose water pudding slices), Cevizli Baklava and Fistikli Baklava all merit at least a little nibble. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, share a plate with friends, slice off tiny slivers for tasting, and partner with a strong Turkish coffee.
Turkish coffee is often an integral part of gatherings, sharing news with friends and memories with families. Its intensity works well with the sweets, balancing out the saccharine finish.
Turkish Cuisine Week KL
The Turkish Week in KL will be held at Lemon Garden in the Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur from May 21st until May 27th. The buffet is priced at RM168 nett (Tuesday – Thursday) and RM188 nett (Friday – Sunday & Public Holiday) for lunch; RM188 nett (Tuesday – Thursday) for dinner and RM248 nett (Friday – Sunday) for the premium dinner, where guests can also sample an array of seafood and local Malaysian cuisine at the same time.