Sunday, August 28, 2011

It’s been interesting to watch the special celebrations that occur along with Ramazan in Istanbul.

Luckily, this month, we participated in two iftar dinners with friends and visitors in Istanbul. Iftar means “breaking the fast” which occurs each evening during Ramazan, often with a large meal with family and friends. In most Muslim countries, it is quite common to have feasts that last all night and run from iftar to suhur “the morning meal” before dawn.

As one of our traditional Muslim friends here explained, he breaks his fast by having dates and a glass of water before proceeding with a large meal for dinner, sleeps for a few hours, wakes up around 3 a.m. to eat again, and then goes back to sleep for a few more hours before he has to get up for work during the weekdays. He said the first week is the hardest, but then the fast gets easier. I will just have to believe him!

Last week, I met some friends through the Professional American Women of Istanbul (PAWI), my husband and two of his co-workers at Liman Lokantasi in Karaköy. The restaurant was offering a special set menu for Ramazan.

We each started with an individual plate of iftariyelikler, which included zeytin (olives), pastırma, sucuk, domates (tomatoes), salatalık (cucumbers), peynir (cheese) as well as various toppings for the pide.
The second course was a delicious bowl of yayla çorbası (meadow soup) - a traditional hot, yogurt soup with rice and mint.
We also were served unlimited Turkish tea, of course.
For our entrees, we chose between a plate of  izgara köfte (grilled meatballs) or piliç eskalop (a chicken breast with a mushroom sauce). The entrees were decent, but nothing special. We also received a few meze dishes in between and by now, I was quite full!

What Liman Lokantasi really has going for it is its impressive view overlooking the Bosphorus! I think we may have found a new place to take our visitors to in Istanbul.
An impressive view of the Topkapi Palace to the left with the Ayasofa to the right
in Sultanahmet.
After much chatting with the other guests and admiring the view, we finished with a plate of güllaç - a traditional Turkish dessert made with milk, rose water and a special kind of pastry which is similar to yufka. This dessert is consumed only during Ramazan.
The rose flavor wasn't too intense compared to others I've tried so far.
Last year, I missed most of Ramazan because I returned to the U.S. to tie up a few things from our move and attend a friend’s wedding. This year, I’m happy to be in Istanbul to see what this season means to the Turks and learn more about the country’s customs. Although I have to admit, I will not miss the late afternoon, angry (read hungry, tired and pissed off) taxi and dolmuş drivers during this time of the year.
To the left, Jason and I celebrated Iftar with a group of friends.

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