Istanbul & Beyond – Review, recipe and giveaway

Istanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey is a labor of love written by Robyn Eckhardt. Robyn’s powerful story telling and her husband’s brilliant eye behind the camera join together to capture the essence of Turkish cuisine in one stunning volume. 

Those who love to cook and travel, along with those who love to dream, are taken on an unforgettable epicurean adventure, beginning in Istanbul, home to one of the world’s great fusion cuisines.

From there, the journey continues to the lesser-known provinces, opening a world of flavors influenced by neighboring Syria, Iran, Iraq, Armenia, and Georgia. From village home cooks, community bakers, café chefs, farmers, and fishermen, they have assembled a broad, one-of-a-kind collection of authentic, easy-to-follow recipes – many of which have never before been published in English. 

A few years back I found myself testing recipes for this book and was thrilled that they were straight forward, well written and the dishes totally delicious. Istanbul & Beyond hits all the notes of what is important in a cookbook: beautiful words woven together that bring the cuisine and its people of this enchanting area into our hearts, recipes that are inspired by the region and far different from any other book on Turkish cookery that I have read, and stunning photography of the food, people and landscape of this area of the world. This title is a delightful, exciting education into the multi-faceted and magical place that is Turkey.

Be sure to check out Robin’s book tour as she has a number of events scheduled to celebrate this book.

Special thanks to the publisher for sharing these beautiful Coiled tahini buns with us today and for offering three copies of this book in our contest which is opened worldwide to EYB members.. 


Coiled Tahini Buns (TAHINLI ÇÖREK)
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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

1. MAKE THE DOUGH: To mix in a stand mixer, see below. Put the water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in another bowl.

2. Beat the eggs and oil together in a small bowl, add to the yeast mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Add the dry ingredients and use your hands or a dough scraper to mix and cut the ingredients together. When the mass comes together, it will be sticky and oily; turn it out onto an unfloured surface and knead, adding up to 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 teaspoons at a time, as necessary, until the dough is smooth and only slightly tacky, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to an unoiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until it has increased in size by half, 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and divide it into 8 roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or an upturned bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.

4. Place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

5. ASSEMBLE THE PASTRIES: Lightly flour a large work surface. Place a dough ball on the surface and roll it out to an approximately 10-inch circle. If you started with a regular rolling pin, switch to an oklava or other long pin (see headnote). Lightly flour the bottom third of the dough and the pin. Place the pin at the top edge of the dough and roll the dough up around the pin as you move it toward you. Stop after every second or third rotation of the pin, lightly place your palms side by side at the center of the pin, and roll it back and forth beneath your palms as you move your hands away from each other along its length. Use a light touch and roll in short strokes. You should feel and see the dough stretching. Continue rolling the dough up onto the pin and stopping to stretch it until it is completely wrapped around the pin. Lift up the pin, flour the work surface again, and carefully unroll the dough onto the surface, turned 90 degrees from its original orientation. Don’t be discouraged if the dough is not a perfect circle, or if it is not much larger than when you started; this just means that you need to apply more pressure to the pin as you roll it out again. If the dough sticks to itself, flour it a bit more heavily before rolling it onto the pin again. Repeat this technique-wrapping the dough around the pin and turning it 90 degrees each time-as many times as necessary to achieve a very thin circle at least 16 and up to 20 inches in diameter. If, when you’ve finished rolling the dough, it’s thicker in some spots than in others, use the rolling pin to even it out. Work your way around the dough circle, lifting the edges to the center to make sure it doesn’t stick, gently stretching the dough as you do so. Be sure not to tear it. Alternatively, use a regular rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 12- to 14-inch circle.

6. Distribute ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of the tahini over the dough circle. The easiest way to do this is to scoop up a tablespoonful at a time, hold the spoon a foot or so above the dough, and move your hand as you tilt the spoon. Don’t skip the edges of the dough-if you end up with some tahini on your work surface, just use your finger to dab it up and smear it on the dough-and don’t worry about unevenly distributed tahini. Sprinkle 1¾ teaspoons of the sugar over the tahini.

7. Roll the dough up into a rope. The rope needn’t be perfect, and it shouldn’t be too tight, but try to keep it as thin as possible. If once you’ve rolled the dough into a rope, you find that tahini has leaked out, just wipe it up with your fingers and gently spread it over the outside of the rope.

8. Lay the rope on your work surface parallel to your body. Starting in the center of the rope, with your hands about 8 inches apart, pick up the rope and move it gently up and down while gently tugging on it; it will begin to stretch. Repeat this motion several times, working on different sections of the rope, until it is 3 to 3½ feet long. Alternatively, if in Step 5 you opted to work with a smaller circle of dough, your rope should be about 1½ feet long after stretching. (To complete this step on a smaller work surface, loop the rope back on itself several times and work on a small section at a time.) As you work, try to keep the rope equally thick along its length.

9. Now twist the rope: Place the palm or fingers of your left hand on the rope about 1 foot in from its right end and, holding that bit of the rope in place, twist it with your right hand. Don’t twist so tightly that the rope curls in on itself, but the twist marks should be visible. Repeat, working your way down the rope, until it is twisted along its entire length.

10. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Form the rope into a loose coil on one of the sheets, leaving an ⅛-inch gap between each ring of the spiral coil. Tuck the end of the rope underneath the outer edge of the coil. With your palm or the heel of your hand, gently press down on the coil to join, but not fuse, its rings. Lay a damp towel over the pastry while you use the rest of the dough to make 7 more coils, distributing them between the two baking sheets and covering with a damp towel as you finish them

11. MAKE THE WASH: Beat the egg with the water and salt in a small bowl and brush the surface of the buns with it. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of the sugar and ½ teaspoon of the sesame seeds over each one. Bake until the buns are walnut colored, 16 to 20 minutes, switching the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the halfway point.

12. Transfer the baked buns to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Once cooled completely, the buns can be wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored for up to 5 days or frozen. for up to 1 month.


Mix the dry ingredients (plus spices, if included) in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the yeast with the water (plus any other liquids, yogurt, and/or eggs, if included) in a separate bowl. Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients.

Attach a dough hook to the machine. Mix on low speed until the dough begins to come together, then increase the speed to medium. Knead the dough until it reaches the consistency described in the recipe (smooth and elastic, or smooth and slightly tacky), 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the recipe. Stop the the machine as needed to scrape the dough from the hook. (If, after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough is still sticking to the bowl, add flour, 1 scant tablespoon at a time, kneading for 30 seconds after each addition, to bring the dough to the proper consistency.) Turn the dough onto a work surface, form it into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.

Coiled Tahini Buns from Istanbul & Beyond by Robyn Eckhardt. Copyright © 2017 by Robyn Eckhardt. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Photograph by David Hagerman

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members worldwide  . One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on December 12th, 2017.

Post a comment


  • Kristjudy  on  November 2, 2017

    5 spice meatballs

  • heyjude  on  November 2, 2017

    Chocolate-filled Crescent Pastries

  • lgroom  on  November 2, 2017

    Mushrooms in yogurt cream with dill

  • articshark  on  November 2, 2017

    Cheese fondue with corn flour

  • RichardMosse  on  November 2, 2017

    Hazelnut kadayif cake

  • ebs  on  November 2, 2017

    sweet corn and bean soup with collard greens

  • joleong  on  November 2, 2017

    The Imam Fainted Baked eggplant

  • ltsuk  on  November 2, 2017

    syriac spice bread

  • GillB  on  November 3, 2017

    Love using tahini so would try the Coiled Tahini Buns

  • iza27  on  November 3, 2017

    lemony okra and tomato soup

  • michalow  on  November 3, 2017

    The wheat berry & yogurt dip sounds interesting!

  • cora429  on  November 3, 2017

    I would make those tahini buns, and everything with pomegranate molasses in it.

  • contest718  on  November 3, 2017

    Connoisseur's griddled fish sandwich

  • matag  on  November 3, 2017

    Potato bread

  • Dannausc  on  November 3, 2017

    corn, potato, and sardine pan bread

  • jyms  on  November 3, 2017

    Tahini eggplant dip

  • vickster  on  November 3, 2017

    Braised spinach with tomato

  • sgump  on  November 3, 2017

    Yum: buttery cardoons & eggs (yumurtali kenger)! (Looking forward to finding cardoons in the market soon!)

  • sarahawker  on  November 3, 2017

    Spicy meat-filled bulgur dumplings with tomato & mint sauce (Içli köfte)

    But everything in this book looks tasty right now.

  • kmn4  on  November 3, 2017

    Apple & raisin hand pies (Portakal kokulu elma kurabiye)

  • lapsapchung  on  November 3, 2017

    Red lentil soup with chile and mint (Mercimek çorbasi) – it would remind me of the very first meal I had on my very first visit to Turkey

  • Foodycat  on  November 3, 2017

    The Istanbul grilled cheese sounds great! But so do many other things.

  • lpatterson412  on  November 3, 2017

    Turmeric-scented Lamb and chickpea soup!

  • elisabethferg9  on  November 3, 2017

    Istanbul Style Grilled Cheese sounds intriguing!

  • kitchen_chick  on  November 3, 2017

    Turmeric-scented lamb & chickpea stew (Piti)

  • bcarpenter  on  November 3, 2017

    Zucchini dolma with garlicky yogurt and tomato sauce

  • katehenderson  on  November 3, 2017

    Meatballs with pumpkin and spiced butter!

  • sugo  on  November 3, 2017

    "The imam fainted" baked eggplant (Firinda imam bayildi) for me

  • t.t  on  November 4, 2017

    Five-spice meatballs & eggplant in tomato sauce (Patlican dizmesi)

  • Livia  on  November 4, 2017

    It has got to be the Smoky freekah pilaf

  • JamieSchler  on  November 4, 2017

    Coiled tahini buns (Tahinli cörek) or Five-spice meatballs & eggplant in tomato sauce (Patlican dizmesi)

  • rachael_mc  on  November 4, 2017

    Yeast bread stuffed with swiss chard and herbs

  • lisaevanoff  on  November 4, 2017

    Istanbul-style grilled cheese sandwich (En guzel tost)

  • hillsboroks  on  November 4, 2017

    I would love to try the coiled tahini buns.

  • PennyG  on  November 4, 2017

    Hmmmm … perhaps Onion Soup with Meatballs and Sumac.

  • sipa  on  November 4, 2017

    I think I will be making the tahini buns because I have all the ingredients in my pantry.

  • qjamanka  on  November 5, 2017

    Handkerchief noodles with blue cheese & butter

  • AGENT99  on  November 5, 2017

    "The imam fainted" baked eggplant sounds interesting!

  • nadiam1000  on  November 5, 2017

    Cornmeal pie with leeks & greens (Çöyic)

  • Dutchmary  on  November 5, 2017

    Onion soup with meatballs and sumac

  • wester  on  November 6, 2017

    I want to try at least half of the recipes in the index, but the onion soup with meatballs & sumac sounds particularly good.

  • lynneskip  on  November 6, 2017

    this parsley/mint mixture is a classic, along with an autumnal bread:
    Potato bread (Patatesli ekmek)

  • skipeterson  on  November 6, 2017

    "Veiled" spiced chicken & rice pilaf

  • Lizwizz  on  November 6, 2017

    The Imam Fainted baked eggplant because I love eggplant!

  • motherofpearl81  on  November 6, 2017

    Grilled beef köfte with chile sauce & white bean salad

  • madelainelc  on  November 6, 2017

    So I need these buns. Like, now.
    Once I get a new jar of tahini I guess I'll just have to whip up some tahini eggplant dip and some creamy tahini & dried fava bean dip, right?

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  November 7, 2017

    I want to make the chocolate-filled crescent pastries (Ay çöregi).

  • RSW  on  November 7, 2017

    Istanbul-style grilled cheese sandwich (En guzel tost)

  • bibliophile02  on  November 7, 2017

    Eggs poached in chunky tomato and pepper sauce

  • v.t  on  November 7, 2017

    Tahtakale Market chicken wings with thyme-chile salt (Tahtakale Pazari baharatli tavuk kanat)

  • Seren_Ann  on  November 8, 2017

    Syrup-soaked crispy walnut rolls 🙂 But so many things sound interesting !

  • vinochic  on  November 8, 2017

    Cornmeal pie with leeks & greens (Çöyic)

  • FrenchCreekBaker  on  November 8, 2017

    the recipe name is so lovely!

  • RoseMGenuine  on  November 8, 2017

    Syriac spiced bread

  • ljsimmons  on  November 8, 2017

    Braised spinach with eggs and mint-chile butter (Yumurtali domatesli ispanak)

  • pfgarden  on  November 9, 2017

    Hi I would try the Apple and raisin hand pies.. They sound absolutely fabulous.

  • elizabrarian  on  November 9, 2017

    How to choose? Oven-caramelized pumpkin with tahini & walnuts AND Green olive salad with pomegranate molasses.

  • tinaellen  on  November 10, 2017

    I'm most excited to try the baked eggplants stuffed with beef ragout (Karniyarik)

  • Mariarosa  on  November 10, 2017

    Any of the hand pies look amazing,

  • Titch  on  November 11, 2017

    Eggs poached in chunky tomato & pepper sauce would be my first recipe to try

  • Shana.  on  November 11, 2017

    Marinated pounded lamb chops.

  • verorenee  on  November 11, 2017

    Chocolate-filled crescent pastries

  • robynsanyal  on  November 12, 2017

    Cheese fondue with corn flour

  • ZhoraAutumn  on  November 12, 2017

    Corn salad with eggplant & dill (Misir ve patlican salatasi) (page 89)

  • Astrid5555  on  November 12, 2017


  • skichick  on  November 12, 2017

    Hazelnut bar cookies

  • JenJoLa  on  November 13, 2017

    Handkerchief noodles with blue cheese & butter (Eski peynirli hangel)

  • mjes  on  November 13, 2017

    Braised spinach with eggs and mint-chile butter (Yumurtali domatesli ispanak)

  • hirsheys  on  November 13, 2017

    Sautéed beef with caramelized onions & Urfa peppers (Isotlu kavurmasi)

  • VeryVigario  on  November 13, 2017

    Grilled beef köfte with chile sauce & white bean salad

  • rchesser  on  November 13, 2017

    "The imam fainted" baked eggplant (Firinda imam bayildi)

  • SuzyP  on  November 14, 2017

    Spicy meat-filled bulgur dumplings with tomato and mint sauce

  • hilarycooks  on  November 14, 2017

    oven caramelized pumpkin with tahini and walnuts

  • Signe  on  November 14, 2017

    Coiled tahini bread

  • thecharlah  on  November 14, 2017

    Istanbul-style grilled cheese sandwich

  • MattFr  on  November 15, 2017

    Tomato and white bean stew

  • MetteJohnsen  on  November 15, 2017

    Oven-caramelized pumpkin with tahini & walnuts

  • Siegal  on  November 15, 2017

    The mint and onion Burke sound great

  • annieski  on  November 16, 2017

    Coiled Tahini Buns

  • SheenaSharp  on  November 16, 2017

    it the first ion the list.
    Eggs poached in chunky tomato & pepper sauce (Menemen)

  • ptkcollins  on  November 17, 2017

    I love Turkish cuisine but I've never tried stuffed vegetables so to begin I would try zucchini dolma with garlicky yogurt & tomato sauce.

  • beetlebug  on  November 17, 2017

    Either the meatballs or one of the egg dishes!

  • dlbawiles  on  November 17, 2017

    The Imam Fainted Baked Eggplant…..

  • teaparty  on  November 17, 2017

    My swiss chard is prolific, so I'd make Yeast bread stuffed with Swiss chard & herbs

  • Ingridemery  on  November 17, 2017

    Oven caramelised pumpkin with tahini and walnuts

  • davisesq212  on  November 17, 2017

    I would love to try the Baked chicken with tomatoes & thyme first!

  • DarcyVaughn  on  November 17, 2017

    Meatballs with pumpkin & spice butter

  • luccio  on  November 18, 2017

    Menemen – sounds similar to Shakshukah…

  • AnnaZed  on  November 18, 2017

    Ari's rice-stuffed mussels (Ari 'nin midye dolmasi)

  • chimpbob  on  November 18, 2017

    Meatballs with pumpkin and spiced butter

  • pclisa40  on  November 18, 2017

    Tahinli çorek – tahini + a cooking challenge get my vote!

  • RickPearson54  on  November 18, 2017

    potato bread

  • blepharisma  on  November 18, 2017

    I think I would start with "Drinking-house pilaf with almonds, walnuts & Urfa pepper". I'm obsessed with Urfa biber, so I'll take any excuse to try a new recipe that uses it.

  • stitchan  on  November 18, 2017

    Fragrant orange cookies

  • tararr  on  November 18, 2017

    Artichoke-rice pilaf with orange & dill (Portakalli dereotlu enginar pilavi)

  • kennethjohngilmour  on  November 18, 2017

    have seen similar dishes so would like to try the eggs poached in chunky tomato & pepper sauce (Menemen) found on page 36

  • Sherrianne  on  November 19, 2017

    Oh there are so many wonderful recipes! Choosing one, I would love this recipe to make Fragrant orange 🍊 cookies!

  • NannaLinda  on  November 19, 2017

    Can't wait to try rice stuffed mussels. Combines two favourites, sounds divine.

  • fbrunetti  on  November 19, 2017

    Spicy bulgur köfte

  • mreils  on  November 19, 2017

    Salmon with herbs

  • jd5761  on  November 19, 2017

    Chocolate crescent pastries

  • Katiefayhutson  on  November 19, 2017

    Apple and raisin hand pies

  • jayerk  on  November 20, 2017

    Easy pan-baked beef kebab (Tepsi kebabi)

  • Scotsman61  on  November 20, 2017

    Chocolate-filled Crescent Pastries

  • smccandless  on  November 20, 2017

    The lamb and chickpea soup recipe

  • Shanthz  on  November 21, 2017

    Mint and onion burek

  • Arinelle  on  November 21, 2017

    Mint & onion börek

  • kitchenclimbers  on  November 21, 2017

    chocolate crescent pastries

  • milgwimper  on  November 22, 2017

    Handkerchief noodle with blue cheese and butter.

  • lhudson  on  November 22, 2017

    Onion soup with meatballs & sumac

  • lhodder2016  on  November 24, 2017

    I'd like the Ari's rice-stuffed mussels. I've heard of stuffed chicken, quails, rolled pork belly, peppers, pumpkins, pasta, etc, but never muscles! Sounds like a great way to inject the sweet brine of the muscle into the rice. It's like a little package for your meal!

  • schesshire  on  November 25, 2017

    baked eggplant

  • DesiKim  on  November 25, 2017

    Ari's rice-stuffed mussels (Ari 'nin midye dolmasi) for sure. They are sold on every street and street corner of Istanbul and are absolutely delicious. I'd love to try my hand at making them myself.

  • Jpt70  on  November 29, 2017

    Baked chicken with tomatoes & thyme

  • auntietina  on  December 1, 2017

    Fragrant orange cookies (Portakalli kurabiye)

  • ninaarahgnis  on  December 1, 2017

    Mint & onion börek

  • matwell  on  December 1, 2017

    The imam fainted baked eggplant. I'm always looking for a good egg plant recipe.

  • Laura1  on  December 1, 2017

    red lentil soup

  • jessiecomp  on  December 2, 2017

    I'd try the red lentil soup with chile and mint – looks delicious!

  • PaulaCheadle  on  December 2, 2017

    Chocolate-filled Crescent Pastries

  • rosalee  on  December 2, 2017

    The mint & onion börek sounds great!

  • antpantsii  on  December 2, 2017

    The imam fainted. Of course.

  • akrupnick  on  December 3, 2017

    Hard to choose. Hazelnut kadaifi.

  • DAVESTIGER  on  December 3, 2017

    Green lentil & beef soup (Yesil mercimek yemegi) sounds delicious. Love soup especially in this weather.

  • jmay42066  on  December 3, 2017

    chocolate-filled crescent pastries (Ay çöregi)

  • zesty77777  on  December 3, 2017

    Red Lentil Soup

  • Sfgordon  on  December 3, 2017

    coiled tahini buns! and spicy okra and lamb saute

  • monique.potel  on  December 4, 2017

    Red lentil soup with chile and mint (Mercimek çorbasi) i think this will be my first choice but there is so many others it makes me hungty

  • rglo820  on  December 5, 2017

    Skillet-fried herbed fish cakes!

  • lean1  on  December 8, 2017

    Red lentil soup is my first choice

  • Julia  on  December 8, 2017

    Mint and onion borek.

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