Turkish Delight

I have wanted to have a dinner party since I left Longwood. The thing I miss most about living in student row housing is communal dinners. One of my good friends at Longwood, Pan, whom I should talk with more often, inspired the idea when she told me every year she has a dinner party for her friends. Each time she picks a different country to base the dinner around. Our apartment in Georgia was not big enough for parties, though we did attempt several times. I think five was the maximum we ever had in there comfortably. In our new much more spacious (relatively) apartment, I began imagining a dinner party. However, we lack a large dining room table. So I came up with the idea of making a dinner table out of our closet doors; a la the garage sales my family had when I was little. Now we had the table figured out, but we didn't have enough chairs. We do own a couch with eight cushions. So I decided we could eat sitting on cushions on the floor. Now all I needed was a theme country. What country sits on cushions and eats at low table? The only restaurant I have been to where I sat on the floor, was a Turkish one that I ate at while attending a German street fare in Chicago. So that is how the Turkish Dinner Party was conceived.

My next step was trying out as many Turkish dishes as possible. In the end, I used two cook books from the library (The Ottoman Kitchen and Classical Turkish Cooking) and the ever wonderful internet. Here is what I came up with for a menu and the links to the recipes, if I got it off the internet:

Mezeler (Small bite sized appetizers, kind of like Spanish Tapas)

  • Marinated Olives
  • Labne - Yogurt cheese balls drizzled with olive oil and then rolled in rosemary and parsley
  • Kurdish Hot Crushed Tomato Paste and Sesame crackers - Basically Turkish chips & salsa
  • Hummus with fresh vegetables - the recipe came from another Longwood aquaintance, Ed, whom claimed to have learned from a little old Turkish neighbor lady.
  • Dolmades - Grape leaves stuffed with rice, raisins, and pinenuts or rice, pinenuts and ground pork.
  • Turkish Beer - Phes
  • Mango juice


  • Taze Bakla Corbasi - Fava bean soup with yogurt-dill cream

Main Dishes

  • Zeytinyagli Pirasa - Carrots and Leeks sautéed with olive oil and rice
  • Imam Bayildi - grilled eggplant stuffed with onions, tomatoes and parsley
  • Kababs - Lamb with bell peppers, eggplant and tomato served with a yogurt dill sauce


  • Fruit Plate - Pomegranate and Cantaloupe
  • Turkish Delight - honey flavored gummy squares covered in powdered sugar (This is the only dish I bought.)
  • Turkish Tea - strong brewed black tea

After two days of doing nothing but grocery shopping and cooking, our New Years Eve dinner party took place. All in all, it went really well. This is the only picture I have of everyone seated. I wish I had a picture of the table before everyone got there, because I thought it was really pretty. You'd never guess the table was a couple of doors with fabric over them surrounded by couch cushions.

There were a couple of panicky hours where I wasn't sure if all the food would be done in time. If you want to know what it is like to use every dish, pot, pan and spatula three times in the same day, I recommend having a dinner party. With the help of my loving husband, we were ready to go by 5:00 which gave us a whole half hour to get our selves ready, and take a quick breather before our guests arrived. I really enjoyed the whole thing, I got to learn about Turkey, try lots of new recipes and create a fun evening for friends.

And at the end of the night, the only rough part was washing the dishes.

1 comment:

  1. It's very nice to see that A Turkish dinner party was held by a non Turkish person at a very far part of the world. As a Turkish woman, I love everything you made. And it looks like your guests enjoyed what they ate.
    Best wishes from Turkey.