The Sultan's Delight

Ambassador Ayşegül Kandaş, translator Sharon Tshabangu and Chef Burhanettin Doğan

17 May 2022

Mediterranean food, some say, is the best in the world. Turkish cuisine has over the years been influenced by its neighbours and in turn it has also influenced the region. On Saturday morning we had the pleasure of watching Chef Burhanettin Doğan of the Turkish Embassy conjure up delectable Turkish meals at Capsicum Cullinary School in Rosebank. Even better, we participated in the tasting of these dishes which really tantalised the tastebuds.

The main dish that was prepared by Doğan was Hünkar Beğendi, or Sultan’s delight as it is widely known. Ambassador Ayşegül Kandaş of Turkey explained that this dish was first created at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, for the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV.

It was prepared as an experiment but he loved it so much that it became an integral part of Turkish cuisine. This Ottoman dish is traditionally made with lamb that is served with roasted eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce.

Kandaş highlighted the importance of food diplomacy especially in negotiations taking place around a dining table. There is a Turkish saying she said ‘Tatlı yiyelim, tatlı konuşalım’ that translates to ‘let’s eat sweet, and talk sweet’ so when negotiations become difficult, agreements can be reached around dessert.

Chef Burhanettin Doğan expertly negotiated his way around the Capsicum kitchen and with the expert help of translator Sharon Tshabangu kept his audience enthralled. He has vast experience having cooked in many five star hotels, and he was also the chef for top flight Turkish football club Fenerbahçe SK. He is in South Africa for 4 years now and shared his wish to increase experiences like this for South Africans.

Echoing this, Abdülaziz Yiğit, Director at the Yunus Emre Institute who is tasked with promoting Turkish culture in South Africa said that dates will soon be announced for Turkish cooking classes which will take place at the Institute in Johannesburg. There was visible enthusiasm for this initiative as many in the audience are keen to immerse themselves in this ancient culture.

The program ended with a South African group ‘Sweet Voices Chorale’ performing Yunus Emre’s poem ‘Bana seni gerek seni’.

by Anisha Pemjee