Renowned culinary authority Musa Dağdeviren, a Turkish chef behind with a dedicated season 5 episode of Chef’s Table, knows his way around Istanbul. Dağdeviren’s food ethos is based around documenting and recording regional cookery in villages throughout Turkey and bringing them to his adopted adopted city (he was born in southern Turkey) through his critically-acclaimed restaurants, Çiya and Ciya Kebap.
Now, he’s released a jam-packed cookbook with 550 recipes for the home cook—from lamb kofte to chicken kebabs, from tahini halva to pistachio baklava—that intends to bring that ethos to the world along with the vibrant, bold, aromatic (and healthy!) glory of Turkish food.
Below, Dağdeviren shares some of his favorite places to eat and drink in Istanbul that both inspire and inform the way he approaches food—from his favorite market to the drink he orders at his preferred Turkish bath.
I love visiting the İnebolu Markets on Sundays. The markets have been around since the 19th century, and are a major provider for our restaurants. With its wide selection of wild herbs, mushrooms, grains, fruit and vegetables all foraged and grown in İnebolu, a town near Kastamonu in the Black Sea region. I buy my breakfast spread here and sample the delicious local cheeses, bread, and free range eggs. I then move onto the flea market in Dolapdere looking for knick knacks and books in my areas of interest. My next stop is the Antiques Market in Feriköy. I then venture into Vefa Bozacısı for a glass of boza (fermented grain smoothie) in the winter and şıra (grape cordial) in the summer.
The Grand Rue de Pera
The Grand Rue de Pera (İstiklal Caddesi) is a street in Beyoğlu is where everything happens during the film, music, and theatre festivals in Istanbul. I’ll have a meal at İmroz Lokantası. The fried mussels at Mercan are not to be missed.
Fresh Cooked Fish
I buy fresh fish in Beylerbeyi on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus and have it cooked at Koparan Balıkçısı (fish restaurant) in the Üsküdar area. I love chatting to the chefs here. Tahini halva with a squeeze of lemon is my favourite dessert after fish. I love having a look around the Antique Markets in Üsküdar and end up in Çinili Hamam, designed by Mimar Sinan (Sinan the Architect) in mid 17th century.
At the Baths
After a sweat and a scrub it is time to enjoy a gazoz (a traditional soft drink) or soda water with a squeeze of lemon at Ağa Hamamı—a Turkish bath that’s been open since 1454. I always get into heated conversations about the country’s agenda with the staff there.
I love eating meatballs and baked beans at Filibe Köftecisi or Sultanahmet Köftecisi in the historical peninsula—a UNESCO World Heritage Site with attractions like the famed Hagia Sophia. Strolling around the old city walls is an all time favorite.