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Istanbul: Kosebasi meze

Toros salata, bottom, and the classic gavurdagi salata at Kosebasi in Istanbul.

I said yesterday that when you order a raki, the anise-flavored Turkish spirit made from either fresh grapes or, more likely, well-preserved dried grapes, that you should order a meze or two. Or three or five.

At Kosebasi, the kebab place Sidar took me to, we didn’t even have a chance to look at the menu before plate after plate of this-and-that starting arriving: raw meatballs with scallions and fine bulghur (cig kofte); thin Turkish pizza covered with highly seasoned meat and veggies (lahmacun); classic Turkish pita (balon) to wrap around broiled eggplant with yoghurt and olive oil or rich hummus.

And then came the salads: toros, a snappy Turkish salad made with arugula, water cress, green onion, mint and flavored with a sour pomegranate syrup and Kosebasi’s famous gavurdagi salata—diced tomatoes (“Only when in season,” our waiter told us), onion, parsley, and Turkish herbs (such as sumac, which I had always thought was poisonous), the whole mixture drizzled with fresh lemon juice.

“So, what do you think?” Sidar asked me as I looked over the many plates on our table.

“I think perhaps we should have another raki,” I said.

And we did.

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