|sesame-covered simit fresh from the oven|
Actually I have the barest idea of what a bagel is other than that it is round. But what I do know is that Turkish simit are the original Ottoman fast food, available any time and most anywhere, from street pedlars to street corners and that people call them the Turkish bagel.
|simit on sale right by the Karaköy iskele or jetty|
TT and I were in Karaköy a few days ago with a few errands to run. Karaköy on the European side of the city, is in the process of being revamped from rather dismal dockland territory to newly-renovated trendy district. I also wanted him to show me where the original Galata Simitcisi was ie where they actually make simit ready for distribution to simit vendors in the vicinity and other locales.
|and there it was ..|
Let me describe where it is: you go back behind where the Karaköy ferries come in, walk past the all too-tempting Namlı, then Güllüoğlu with its delectable baklavas, past trendy Lokanta Maya and Karaköy Balık Lokantası, and turn in there. Turn right and walk along. Soon you will see this unassuming building with Galata Simitçisi written above.
And inside ….. oh my what do you see there. An amazing sight of mounds of newly baked simit, fragrant with sesame, just out of the wood-fired oven which is right there, manned by a very able usta. I am able to confirm that the sesame seeds indeed adhere to each simit thanks to a brushing of pekmez/grape molasses over the surface of each one. Later on, I checked simit recipes online and there are an awful lot which subscribe to vinegar or egg yolk wash: these are not authentic!
|notice the usta’s gloves …|
|the usta or master, himself|
|covered with sesame seeds and waiting to be baked in the hot oven|
|he makes thousands every day|
TT was nearly weak at the knees: every Turk adores simit especially ones like these, the original item and not from a cakeshop. He said he just had to have one so we bought one and went next door to a wonderful modern cafe called OPS where he devoured it with a very reputable cappucino. He said it was çıtır çıtır ie crunchy crunchy, just like simit should be. So try to get them fresh out of the oven because as they cool, so they soften.
|the ones on the left are covered with sunflower seeds and are not traditional|
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
- Cover the yeast with enough of the warm water and leave for 10 minutes. Mix the salt, flour and remaining water well. Rest for 2 hours. Divide the dough into 10 equal parts and leave for a further 30 minutes. Roll each part into a 30cm long circle and then twist into a simit shape. Mix the pekmez and water well and then brush over each simit. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Place each one on a greased baking tray. Rest for 30 minutes.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
I haven’t tried this recipe and I probably never will. Why would I or indeed anybody living here in Turkey when you can buy these delicious rings so easily? But my lovely blogging friend Joyce from October Farm did exactly that: here is her post and you can see she did a pretty fine job based on a recipe from Ozlem’s Turkish Table.
|a simitçi in Karaköy|
Right behind the place where they were baking the simit, was this church. Amazingly, it was a Turkish Orthodox Church, the church of Mary Mother of God. In other words, a Turkish Christian church.
|it was in excellent condition, candles lit, brass polished : obviously there is a congregation there|