Turkish, Arab cuisines: So similar, yet so different

There is more to Turkish cuisine than the perhaps notorious, doner kebab — a variation of the Arabic shawarma.
Updated 06 June 2017
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Turkish, Arab cuisines: So similar, yet so different

ISTANBUL: In a bid to banish stereotypes of late-night greasy fast food, Turkish chefs are trying to burnish their image by showcasing the culinary riches the country has to offer.
A new breed of cooks has shaken up the Istanbul food scene with an innovative approach to Turkish cooking, while others are on a mission to show there is more to the nation’s cuisine than the perhaps notorious, doner kebab — a variation of the Arabic shawarma.
For many outside the country, Turkish food brings to mind images of pita bread stuffed with shavings of meat roasted on a vertical spit.
The doner was brought to western Europe by the Turkish diaspora, especially those in Germany where additions like salad and mayonnaise have made it a heavier meal than in Turkey.
“Turkish cuisine is largely known abroad through doner and kebab,” said Defne Ertan Tuysuzoglu, Turkey director of Le Cordon Bleu, an international culinary academy, which started in Paris and now has campuses all over the world.
Arnaud De Clercq, who has taught at the Istanbul branch of Le Cordon Bleu for the past two years and has worked in Michelin star restaurants in France, described Turkish cuisine as “very rustic” with its focus on sauces, ragouts and stews.
“It is close to the traditional French cuisine: beef bourguignon, veal blanquette, lamb navarin — all this you can find here, but a bit different.”
He singled out Turkish meze, the selection of small dishes served as an appetizer at the start of a meal.
“When the Ottoman Empire expanded, it also spread its kitchen,” he said.
“You can find Turkish meze in all regions, in all countries and each country adapted it to its own taste, like in Lebanon, in Syria or in Jordan.”
Despite the somewhat limited perception of Turkish food overseas, the cuisine has a wide variety of regional differences, with specialities from the western Aegean differing sharply from those in the eastern Black Sea region. Antakya in the southeast has a rich culinary heritage inspired by Aleppo in Syria, while specialities on the Black Sea include dishes such as muhlama, an unusual fondue made with cornflour, butter and cheese.


Jordan gets its first female boots on Everest summit

Updated 26 May 2019
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Jordan gets its first female boots on Everest summit

  • Dubai-based mountaineer Dolores Shelleh also became first Arab woman to scale the world’s highest mountain from its northern side
  • Shelleh previously summited Mount Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, as well as Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus, and Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro

DUBAI: Dubai-based mountaineer Dolores Shelleh became the first Jordanian woman to scale mount Everest this week, as well as being the first Arab woman to scale the world’s highest mountain from its northern side.

“By scaling Mt. Everest from the North Col, I intended to highlight the message of embracing more sustainable practices and to promote the use of renewable energy as well as reinforce the need to follow healthy lifestyles in harmony with nature,” Shelleh said.

“The challenge I undertook was particularly arduous as the North Col of Mt. Everest route called for more technical climbing and the weather conditions were windier and chillier. With the support and blessings of my family, friends and my co-residents in The Sustainable City, I was able to accomplish the task,” she added.

Shelleh’s climb was sponsored by The Sustainable City, the Middle East’s first fully operational sustainable community, found in the UAE.

Shelleh previously summited Mount Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world, as well as Europe’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus, and Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.