A south-east Turkey speciality from The Turkish Deli
Each of us—every person, every region, every nation—has, in some form, small rituals that dictate our drink consumption: be it a round of drinks in the pub after work, or the making of 10 o’ clock office tea (water first, two-minute brew, milk after, in our case). For Turks, the making of coffee is near sacred—so much so, their traditional method of making and drinking coffee was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013.
“Turkish coffee combines special preparation and brewing techniques with a rich communal traditional culture… [it] is a symbol of hospitality, friendship, refinement and entertainment that permeates all walks of life,” the UNESCO site says.
What makes The Turkish Deli’s pistachio ‘coffee’—the making of which involves zero coffee beans—relatable to its western namesake, is the adherence to these traditions.
Traditional, long-handled pan
“In Turkey we call it menengiç: it’s not actually coffee, but we needed a way to translate it for westerners,” explains Graham. “It’s made from a form of pistachio nuts, which are then roasted and ground into an oily paste” and prepared in exactly the same way as the protected Turkish coffee. “It’s all about methodology, which hasn’t altered for centuries. You use roughly the same ratio of menengiç to water as you would Turkish coffee, so effectively one spoonful per 100ml,” he continues. “It is cooked in a cezve—the traditional, long-handled pan—but a lot slower, to break down the pistachios and allow the sediment to settle.”
The liquid is brought to the boil until it begins to froth, when it is taken off the heat and the froth is distributed between small cups called ‘fincanlar’. The liquid is then put back on the heat and brought up to the boil again, before being divided between cups. A thick, rich liquid with a strong taste, it’s “a bit of a Marmite thing,” says Graham, “but all my Turkish friends love it.”
While popular among those in the know, this traditional drink is quite rare in Turkey: “Most would’ve heard of it, but probably not tried it. It’s very much a south-east Turkish thing, mainly found towards the Syrian border, where they grow pistachios.” At The Turkish Deli you’ll find it in jars to take home, or expertly prepared by Graham and proffered, steaming, to warm our grateful hands. We just might have a new morning ritual.