10 Unique Tastes of Black Sea Cuisine

Well known for its tea, rich in vitamin hazelnuts and hamsi (anchovy), Black Sea Region has an amazing diversity in its cuisine. Anchovies are cooked into soups, grilled, fried, baked into bread or even into cakes. We all know tea is an indispensable companion of Turkish breakfasts, a ritual and a great conversation starter. Thousands of glasses consumed daily across the country and Black Sea is the major tea producer. Starting from Zonguldak to the east, all over the entire Black Sea, production of hazelnut also ensures the region’s importance. 

But other than well-known tastes what else there is to Black Sea cuisine? 

If you have ever been in this region you must still be longing for fresh, unique and delicious foods made by locals. It is hard to forget once you taste the traditional kitchen mainly composed of butter, cheese, black cabbage, rice and corn flour. Those who want to savor delicacies of Black Sea cuisine once again and those who have never been in the area; we have a great list of places for you to enjoy the cuisine in Istanbul. 

1. Kuymak/ Artvin

Very popular in the whole Blacksea region, Kuymak is made of slip in Artvin rather than cheese. Additional ingredients are corn flour, water and salt. Components are quite simple yet the flavor is delicious; combination makes this gooey flavor the most cooked dish in the region. Dip your bread into the pan and enjoy even the last bits. 

Anzer Sofrasi, located in Sariyer, and Kuymak Besiktas, a rather modest yet cozy family-run business, are ideal for breakfast. Delicious kuymak is included of course. Be careful though; one portion of this rich food can easily feed two or three people. 

Photo Credit (http://berfendber.blogspot.com.tr/2009/06/konsept-tasarm-ve-isletim-planlamas_2271.html)

2. Iskilip Stuffed/Çorum

Corum has a rich food culture rooted in Hittites. Cooked for special occasions such as weddings, events and festivals, Iskilip Stuffed is one of the main dishes of the traditional cuisine. During the cooking process rice is slowly steamed above the meat in a big cauldron. You need to be patient but the result is delightful. 

Katipler Mansion is the most well-known place for İskilip Stuffed and for other traditional foods we’d never heard of before. Yet it is located in Corum. We couldn’t spot a place in Istanbul to taste this delicious food; so a long journey on the track of Black Sea flavors is awaiting you.  

Photo Credit (http://www.gurmerehberi.com/yemek-kulturu/bilinmeyen-tatlar/iskilip-dolmasi/)

3. Herbs Roasted/Karabuk 

Copmosed of 40 kinds of roasted herbs, onion, garlic and walnut, this dish is a representation of Blacksea’s enchancting nature on your plate. 

It is hard to bring 40 kind of herbs together all coming from the Blacksea region. Yet savoy cabbage is very popular and can be found in anywhere. Klemuri is one of the best spots in Beyoglu to taste a great range of blacksea cuisine including savory cabbage, pepeçura, muhlama, silor and hamsi. Restaurant also features in Turkey’s famous gourmet Vedat Milor’s Tv Program this month. 

Photo Credit (https://gulevisafranbolu.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/ot-kavurma1.jpg)

4. Tirmit Roasting/Ordu

Mushrooms are a low-calorie source of vitamins and minerals. If you are a fan you should definitely try Tirmit out, specific mushroom specie. Showing themselves after the rain, mushrooms are gathered from the beech and pine trees by locals, roasted with butter and onions. Try with fried corn bread and let the delicious flavor overtake you. 

Photo Credit (http://visnap.blogspot.com.tr/2014/09/tirmit-kavurmas-mantar.html)

5. Kaygana/Trabzon  

Can you think of Blacksea cuisine without anchovy? 

Kaygana also known as “gaygana” will remind you omelets at first glance. But it tastes quite different with anchovies in it and its history roots back to 15th century; Kaygusuz Abdal mentioned, “honey kaygana” in his poems. Here is a quick recipe for those who want to cook Kaygana at home; mix eggs, corn flour, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Put fine-chopped anchovies and parsley over the mixture and cook it all in a pan. It is ready to serve. 

It is almost impossible to forget the taste of kaygana you will eat in Hayvore, which in the Laz language refers to phrase “I’m here”. Very inviting indeed, right? Once you try it out you will know you’d be coming here regulary as lots of Blacksea cuisine lovers do including celebrities. 

Photo Credit (http://tombikcafe.blogspot.com.tr/2012/08/kaygana_21.html)

5. Stuffed Vine Leaves Wtih Broad Beans/Amasya

Wherever you visit in Turkey, you will come across a version of stuffed vine leaves made by locals. If you ask what makes their version different, they all say its savor. Even though there are some differences, each version mostly taste similar; except Stuffed Vine Leaves with Broad beans. Its unique taste comes from being cooked to a turn with the ribs placed under stuffed vine leaves.

Sisore, another Laz word, meaning “where are you?” gives its name to Sisore Karadeniz Pide restaurant. Place offers typical Black Sea dishes with a great variety. 

6. Kaysefe /Artvin 

Prepared by either dried plum, apricot or mulberry, our first choice for desert is Kaysefe. Most of us unfamiliar with this unique flavor.  But once you try, it will leave a taste on the palate that will take your breath away and will make you ask for more. The secret behind the unforgettable taste of Kaysefe has to do with molasse and natural butter used in the recipe. 

Those who want to enjoy Black Sea cuisine with a group of friends; Vezir Sofrasi is the real deal for you!  

Photo Credit (http://www.mutlumutfaklar.com/yemek-tarifleri/tatlilar/kaysefe/)

7. Haliska/ Bartin

With its ancient history and natural scenery, Bartin is one of the most attractive cities of Turkey. Cultural and natural assets reflect on the cuisine as well. Over 100 local dishes have been found in the region according to researches. We have 2 selections from Bartin; Haliska and Pum Pum Soup. There are two different ways of cooking Haliska; one of them is prepared with milk, Abdi Pasha method, and the other one with molasses, Usul Method. Our vote goes for Haliska with milk, which one you would prefer; milk or molasses?  

Photo Credit (http://www.yemektarifleri.net.tr/kolay/yemek/hamurisi-tarifleri/page/9)

9. Pum Pum Soup/ Bartın  

Our second choice from Bartin is Pum Pum Soup, very easy to cook and its name is catchy; cool alternative for the following winter days. Roast the natural butter and corn flour together in a pan. Pour grated tomatoes and tepid water on it. Let it boil long enough, add kashar cheese on it and serve with croutons. Very simple. Yet the result is so tasty! 

Photo Credit (http://www.tvyo.com/tvyogurme/video/pum-pum-corbasi)

10. Pepeçura /Rize

Made of concorde grapes and starch into a pudding-thick desert, Pepecura tastes delicious. Indigenous to Eastern Black Sea region where grapes grow in abundance, this desert also known as Moustalevria in Greece. A quick tip for you; if you don’t want to loose the aroma of concorde grapes, don’t pour so much sugar. 

A favourite in Bostancı, Nalia, specializing in Black Sea cuisine are some of the rare spots to enjoy pepeçura. 

Photo Credit (http://www.ardaninmutfagi.com/yemek-tarifleri/tatlilar/ramazan-tarifleri-pepecura)