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Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

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There is no shortage of fresh herbs in the mountains, valleys, markets and gardens of Turkey. In the summer heat the air of the Aegean and Mediterranean is intermittently scented with an enchanting pot-pourri of wild sage, basil, oregano and thyme, interspersed with dreamy wafts of eucalyptus and pine.
Herbs are used in large quantities, fresh and dried, to flavour and balance dishes. In addition to spices, herbs were traditionally believed to contain ‘warming’ and ‘cooling’ properties similar to the Yin and Yang theory of China. During the Ottoman period, the Palace chefs devised recipes by carefully balancing the herbs and spices to ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ the blood. The combination of fresh parsley, dill and mint has become widely used as a warming triune for ‘cold’ vegetables such as marrows, carrots and lettuce.