• Dee Laffan

Where to Shop for Turkish Ingredients

Dee takes us on a search for the best places to shop for Turkish food items in Ireland.


In Turkey, there is a diverse and rich food culture that owes itself to the produce from the vast lands that the Turks have lived on throughout history, from Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire and its tradition for lavish feasts and banquets helped to found what is modern-day Turkish cuisine.

Ayla Bakery on display in their window on Capel Street.

Turkish cuisine is comprised of a wide variety of foods, with pastries taking the first place. Bread is the core food ingredient, while oil is given great importance; lard and butter are used extensively in meat dishes and pastries and olive oil in vegetable-based dishes.


I have put together this shopping guide of some of my favourite places and ingredients that are a must-have for your larder.


1. Ayla Bakery & Supermarket

Owned by Turkish Erol Basak, and run with the help of his sons, Ayla is the best place in the country, as it stands, to buy Turkish food. I don’t just say that of my own opinion, after extensive research and asking many within the Turkish community, the answer was unanimous for where to find the best ingredients from ‘home’.


Erol has two physical stores, one on Capel Street, D7 and one in Dundalk, County Louth, while also offering goods for home delivery across the country via ayla.ie online shop. The supermarket in Dublin city centre has an in-house bakery with a selection of goods, savoury and sweet that are all must-try. A wide range of sandwiches (rolls filled with hummus, Turkish peppers, olives and salad), Borek from veggie, cheesy slices to mince-filled, long, finger-shaped filo pastries line the shelves, adjacent to pidas, simit and, of course, the sweet selection including baklava, sekerpare, trilece, kadayif and lots more.


Erol is proud of unique sells such as their own sujuk, smoked paprika beef sausage, which is made using Irish beef and is processed in Belgium. Pilavlik Bulgur is the best quality you can find; and he stocks Yayla and Gazi soft cheeses – Yağlı Çökelek and Tulum Peyniri; and good-quality Tarhana, that is used to make soup and is a dried ingredient made from fermented grain and milk. In the frozen section, you can find Kokoreç. Plus, it wouldn’t be a Turkish supermarket without a huge variety of spices and herbs, in this case Erol stocks a brand, Inci. The olive counter in Ayla has a ‘pay by weight’ serve of a selection of olives or you can buy jarred versions which are equally as good, just not as fresh, and Erol stocks olive oil also.


Ali, owner of Reyna Turkish Grill on Dame Street in D2, highly recommends purchasing a brand of pomegranate molasses in Ayla called Öncü. He says, “Arabic brands of pomegranate molasses, which you can get in a lot of shops, are a bit too concentrated for what we Turkish use it for, on salads etc. This is the best one.”


There are too many finds to list here, but for reasons listed above and so many more, Ayla is your one-stop shop for any Turkish ingredients you are looking for.


Ayla Bakery & Supermarket

30 Capel St, North City, Dublin 1, D01 F593

64 Park St, Townparks, Dundalk, Co. Louth, A91 H26X

ayla.ie

2. Mediterranean Food Store

This shop is essentially an international market, but specifically focuses on Croatian, Turkish, Arabic, Indian, Bosnian products and Halal chicken and meat. It is a small shop, but I’ve always found it to stock a vast range of products and for Turkish items, it does not disappoint. Plus the staff are extremely helpful and will point you in the right direction. In particular, ambient products such as bulgur, olive oil, spices and in the fridge look for sujuk, labneh and ayran. Plus fresh bunches of herbs such as parsley and coriander for a pittance compared to what you pay in some Irish supermarkets.


Mediterranean Food Market

60 Thomas Street, Dublin 8, D08 FX59

pointy.com/shops/ireland/dublin/mediterranean-food-market

3. Cost Less Supermarket

Located in the same complex as the Plaza Hotel in Tallaght, this supermarket is not only a nook for multi-ethnic food products, but it is also home to a Turkish barbers. Particularly good ranges of spices and dried herbs and a popular brand of coffee from Istanbul called Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Turkish Coffee (photo below). Drinking coffee is of such great importance for Turkish people that the word kahvaltı, translates as ‘before coffee’ and is derived from the words kahve (coffee) and altı (before).


Cost Less comes recommended by many as a great place to shop for Turkish ingredients. We have yet to explore to its fullest and we’ll report back with more!


Cost Less Supermarket

Plaza Complex, Belgard Road, Tallaght, Dublin 24

pointy.com/shops/ireland/dublin/costless-supermarket

Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi is now run by the fourth generation – Mehmet Efendi’s grandchildren.

4. Aiysha.ie

With two physical stores, one in Coolmine, Dublin and one in Cork, plus a large online grocery shop, Aiysha is a go-to for lots of ingredients and they offer home delivery nationwide. They also have a Halal grocery shop with a butcher that is open seven days a week.


Products available include okra, Zahter (wild Turkish herb from same family as oregano), Halva, Öncü hot pepper paste (Acı Biber Salçası in Turkish), a range of coffee brands, sujuk and a variety of products from a brand called Durra, which specialise in Turkish products such as pickled grape leaves, fava beans with cumin and Halawa to name a few.


Aiysha Spice House | Spices in Dublin | Halal Butchers & Ethnic Shop

Unit 6, Coolmine Industrial Estate, Dublin

&

Spice House Ethnic Shop

82 Shandon St, Gurranabraher, Cork, T23 KP46

aiysha.ie


5. The English Market, Cork

Irish-based, Michelin-starred chef Ahmet Dede, owns and runs Dede in Baltimore, West Cork. While he imports the best-quality ingredients for his restaurant and dishes for his (very lucky) customers, he mentioned that there are some great Turkish shopping finds to be had in The English Market in Cork City. “The market is good for spices, tea, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, olives, cheeses (in particular, Feta and soft fresh cheese), bulgur, red lentils and some other grains.”


Mr Bell’s is particularly good for spices and has the closest sense of resemblance to the famous spice markets in Istanbul. All spices are blended and packaged daily. You can also find specialist products such as herbs, dried fruit, pulses, rice beans and grains – for a range of cuisines such as Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, African, Middle Eastern, French, Italian and Mexican.


The English Market

Princes St, Cork City.

corkcity.ie/en/english-market


6. Hadji Bey Turkish Delight

This Irish company was originally established during the early years of the 20th century by Armenian immigrants Harutun Batmazian and his wife Esther, who even though they spoke no English, chose Cork as their new home after participating in the world’s fair international exhibition. Harutun had learned the skill of making Turkish delight – a jelly confectionery made with starch and sugar and dusted with icing sugar, traditionally, varieties of flavours consisting largely of chopped dates, pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts, flavoured with rosewater, mastic, bergamot orange, or lemon – while studying in Istanbul. They had a shop on Cork’s MacCurtain Street – in a unit that is now part of the ground floor of The Metropole Hotel – with a sign Hadji Bey et Cie meaning Hadji Bey & Co. It was highly successful and they exported their delights to Harrods of London, Bloomingdale’s of New York, and even to Buckingham Palace.


After Harutun’s son retired in 1970, the brand went into decline, but the business was revived in 2010 after it was bought by UHC Confectionery in Newbridge, Co Kildare, where it is still produced. You can find it on sale in lots of independent food shops nationwide such as Fallon & Byrne, Dublin and Gourmet Parlour, Kinsale (photo above). Each box contains a copy of an article from a 1964 edition of The Guardian newspaper, explaining the brand’s backstory.


Glossary


Adana: a long, spicy, lamb mince kebab with sumac, chili and parsley, usually served with flatbread, Turkish salad and a garlic yoghurt dip.

Ayran: salty, yoghurt drink

Borek: is the name given to a family of pastries made of thin flaky dough, like filo, and common fillings are with meat, cheese, leafy greens or potatoes

Bulghur: durum wheat

Döner: the word means ‘rotating roast’ in Turkish. The döner kebab was created by Iskender Efendi in the middle of the 19th century. The very first Iskender’s started operating in 1867, next to the Kayhan Mosque in the historical Kayhan Bazaar in Istanbul. Read the full history here.

Labneh: strained yoghurt

Lahmacun: a round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat, minced vegetables and herbs including onions, garlic, tomatoes, red peppers, and parsley, and spices such as chili pepper, paprika, and cinnamon, then baked

Menemen: eggs, softly scrambled with tomatoes, onions, and green Turkish peppers, with spices such as ground black and red pepper cooked in olive oil

Simit: the Turkish ‘bagel’, it is a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds.

Şiş: pronounced 'shish' – the word şiş means 'sword' in Turkish and comes from a tradition from medieval soldiers who would cook meat over open fire using their swords.

Sujuk: Smoked beef paprika sausage

Pide: a flat bread baked with toppings in a stone oven




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