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Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

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Originally from the New World, giant sunflowers now grow all over Turkey. At harvest time carts laden with the freshly cut sunflower heads dot the countryside, and the flat spaces running beside the narrow country roads, normally reserved for tractors, horse-drawn carts and herded animals, are spread with the drying heads until the seeds are released from the pods. The seeds are then roasted and eaten as a snack which, like melon, marrow and pumpkin seeds, are particularly popular with children. The light sunflower oil made from the crushed and pressed seeds is used for cooking a variety of dishes in Istanbul, but in the rest of Turkey it is mainly used for deep-frying.