Former Anatoli owner Tayfun Aras published his ‘Anatoli Authentic Turkish Cuisine’ Cookbook in 2018, containing a collection of recipes of dishes served at Anatoli, many still on the menu, and his kitchen secrets. His culinary journey From Turkey to Cape Town is penned as well. Anatoli is one of Cape Town’s longest-established restaurants, still trading on Napier Street, where it opened its doors in 1984.
Chef Tayfun grew up in Turkey, and helped his mother with the cooking. He moved into the family carpet, kelim, and souvenir shop. It was his mother’s cooking, as well as experimenting with cooking himself during his university days that he ‘fell in love with creating beautiful Turkish food’. A visit to Cape Town with his wife Louise led to a meal at Anatoli, which was repeated annually for holiday visits. In 1998 he received a call from then owners Bevan Christie and Mustafa Candan, offering him the restaurant to buy. Whilst he was still firmly settled in Turkey at that time, he had to decline, but five years later he bought Anatoli, and so further developed the restaurant as a ‘Turkish landmark in South Africa’s Mother City’, described by Tayfun in the book as ‘a trip to Turkey without the airfare’.
Slowly Tayfun changed the menu, and sourced ingredients he could not find locally from Turkey, including apricots, sumac spice, Turkish coffee, and the traditional Raki liqueur.
An interesting chapter introduces the spices, herbs and ingredients used in Turkish cuisine. Spices include sumac, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and sesame seeds. Feta cheese and halloumi cheese are often used too. Herbs used include oregano, mint, garlic, parsley, and dill. Olive oil is an essential, as are phyllo pastry, yoghurt, pine nuts, chick peas, and vegetables such as aubergines and broad beans.
The Mezze tray is the Starter introduction to dining at Anatoli, and any past diner nostalgically remembers the tray with a selection of small plates of Turkish and Mediterranean dishes, some served cold and some hot. In those days one could help oneself to cold Mezzes from the tray, but now the Mezzes are prepared by the kitchen on ordering. The 22 Mezze recipes in the book include baby-marrow fritters (Mücver), assorted olives, grilled halloumi, Hummus, stuffed vine leaves (Sarma), Baklava, Tarama fish roe spread, Tzatziki, Lentil köfte, Ezme salata (a Salad of finely chopped tomato, cucumber and onion salad), leeks, Marmaris (olives, sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, mushrooms, and some chili), filo cigars, Köfte meatballs, and more. Flatbread has become an essential accompaniment to the Mezzes, loaves served plain, with garlic, or with Za’aar.
A section with recipes of dishes Chef Tayfun eats at home concludes the interesting Turkish culinary journey in the Anatoli cookbook.
Since 2019 Anatoli has been taken over by new owners, and its Chef Jacques du Toit is a passionate chef who loves cooking with spices such as cumin, cinnamon, sumac, and coriander in particular. Whilst he has added new dishes over time, he remains true to the 37 year heritage of Anatoli, adding a new more modern touch to some of the dishes contained in the Anatoli cookbook.
Disclosure: Anatoli is a Communications Client of mine.
‘Anatoli Authentic Turkish Cuisine’ is available at Anatoli Mediterranean Restaurant, 24 Napier Street, Green Point, at R395, from 18h00, on Tuesdays – Saturdays. Tel (021) 419-2501, www.anatoli.co.za Instagram @anatoli_restaurant.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whaletalesblog.com www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide