Istanbul and Beyond: The Rich Story of Turkey's Food

Robyn Eckhardt and David Hagerman's book tells the rich story of Turkey's food, from Istanbul through the varied terrain that influences the cuisine.

Kara Rota
6-minute read
Episode #173

istanbul and beyond

Robyn Eckhardt and her husband David Hagerman have spent decades exploring and eating throughout Turkey. In their new book, the reader is taken on a journey to discover the food of Turkey, from the street fare of Istanbul to the seafood of the Black Sea, the dairy of the Northeast and the pomegranates and chilies of the Hatay province.

To hear the full interview with Robyn, listen using the embedded audio player, or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.



In these lightly sweet bread coils, which are eaten for breakfast or as a snack, with tea, layers of tender buttery dough conceal pockets of rich, nutty sesame paste. My touchstone for this treat has long been the version from Yedi Sekiz Hasan Pasa, a bakery in Besiktas district, on Istanbul’s European side, that dates back to the latter years of the Ottoman Empire. There the pastries are bigger than the palm of my hand and heavy with sesame paste. Veysel Büyüksolak, a young pastry chef at Istanbul’s Nicole restaurant, helpful advice when I attempted to replicate the buns at home. To create the flaky layers, a circle of dough drizzled with tahini is rolled into a rope, which is in turn twisted before being coiled. In Turkey, pastry chefs and home cooks use an oklava, a long, thin rolling pin, to roll and stretch their dough. You can buy an oklava, which is also useful for making plain pastry dough, online , or use a 20-inch piece of wooden dowel or light metal piping instead. For those with little patience for rolling dough, I’ve also included directions for making buns that are smaller, plumper, and less flaky but no less delicious. The dough ropes may leak a bit of tahini when they are stretched, twisted, and coiled. Just wipe the sesame paste from your work space with your finger and smear it over the dough; the oil will leave a desirable sheen on the pastry.

These buns keep for up to 5 days and freeze well. They’re best warm: Wrap in foil and reheat in a 350°F oven.

PREPARATION TIME: 1¾ hours, plus 1 hour rising time



  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4¾ cups (26 ¹⁄8 ounces) bread flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling out the dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil


  • 2½ cups tahini, plus more if needed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar


  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon untoasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Instructions on the following page.


About the Author

Kara Rota

Kara Rota headed children’s programming at Chicago’s Green City Market and studied food politics at Sarah Lawrence College. Kara has been a featured speaker at numerous venues including Food Book Fair, the Roger Smith Food Conference, and the Brooklyn Food Conference. She has written about food for Irish America Magazine, West Side Rag, Recipe Relay, and Food + Tech Connect, and is the former Director of Editorial & Partnerships at Cookstr.com.