Contrary to popular opinion, Turkish cuisine is not all about the meat. In fact, much of the food is centred around the country’s diverse selection of vegetables, the foundation of the dish, and the difference is in whether they are accompanied by meat or showcased alone. Zetin yagli dishes are tasty vegetarian plates such as wrapped vine leaves, chick peas and artichokes in oil; these and other veggie creations like baba ghanoush are on display at Hyde Park’s Mardin, a vegetarian Turkish hangout that also broadens its offerings for the nearby students.
Back in Leeds city centre, there are few nationalities not included in Kirkgate Market, and sure enough Turkey is represented by the initially misleadingly titled Mr Mackerel. This is no fish monger or traditional chippy, but instead a Turkish street food outlet in the food court serving up authentic fayre. The name does indeed derive from their speciality, fresh grilled mackerel, served with colourful natural accompaniments, or as a sandwich called ekmek balik. Wash it down with an ayran yoghurt drink for the full shebang.
Also in Kirkgate Market is another cuisine that is less discovered, but equally delicious: Tunisian. This is a fusion of cultures, with a nod to the Mediterranean and a wave to the Middle East, coming together for a distinctive spicy and vibrant food that is all its own. Now Sweet Saeeda is bringing these sweet Tunisian flavours to Leeds and its a damn tasty arrival. The fish, breads and salads are not dissimilar to aforementioned Turkish dishes, and whilst the chicken and lamb are extremely moreish, the veggies shine too, with falafel, haloumi and an array of fresh herbs and sauces.
With this influx of Turkish delights and an insight to Tunisian treats, the Leeds palate is widening, and it feels like this is only the beginning. There is so much more to explore within these wonderful cuisines and others besides. It promises to be a rather tasty journey.