6 Different Spices from Turkey

6 Different #Spices From #Turkey

I love to combine different spices when cooking! I can discover new seasonings and flavors each time. Right, I’m an adventurous cook! I can’t imagine that all spices are removed from dishes, can you? They help other flavors to stand out! There is absolutely a big difference between plain chicken-turkey-beef-lamb or veggies and their seasoned versions. You don’t have to add a lot from your favorite spice, even a pinch of it could make the difference. So the amount is up to you, but spices are must!

I have so many different spices in my kitchen, but I’m going to talk about 6 of them here. I’m planning to share the others later. 3 of these spices are the ones I’ve been using for many years, and the other 3 are my new stars in the kitchen. Cumin, isot pepper and turmeric are like my old friends, but I don’t have a long history with haspir, rosemary and lemon zest.

6 Different #Spices From #Turkey

I can say that cumin is my favorite among all because I have it with my egg every single morning! I have one egg, either boiled or scrambled every morning and enjoy it with a little cumin on it. If you haven’t tried cumin with egg yet, you must definitely give it a try! I can use cumin in any dish from beef and chicken to veggies and legumes. It is a must with especially legumes both for its flavor and its health function. Did you know cumin can prevent tummy troubles that beans and chickpeas might cause?

Among these different spices, isot pepper is the most ethnic one. You can’t find it everywhere even in Turkey. Yes, there are packaged versions at markets, but they are not the same with the original one. Isot pepper is also known as Urfa pepper as it is produced in Urfa, a city in the east of Turkey. It has a unique flavor and smell, and it is so different from paprika or chili. Once you smell isot pepper, you are tempted either to eat or cook something! It is that sinful! The most famous dish in Turkish cusine containing isot is Uncooked Kofte (cigkofte). This is the spice making this kofte that irresistible! I use a little isot in chicken and meat dishes to give them an appetizing flavor.

Don’t you think turmeric is like the super star among these different spices with its vibrant color? Although it’s not that common in Turkish cuisine, I try to use it often because I know it has so many health benefits and I admire the color it gives to dishes. I make these Turmeric Buns quite often. These bright yellow buns always rock on a breakfast table!

Haspir is my newest spice. It is a special spice from Antep, another eastern city of Turkey and a friend from that city introduced it to me. People there use it in several local dishes, especially in soups. When you see it in the picture, you might think that it is saffron, but it’s not. They are so much alike, but they are different spices. It is difficult to differentiate between these, and some shops might sell it with the name saffron. The thing is, saffron is so expensive while haspir is affordable and some spice shops make use of it, so you must be careful when buying it. Haspir also gives its nice color to dishes but not as much as saffron. I learnt a recipe of baked potatoes with haspir from a spice shop owner and a very tasty and flavorful dish came out as a result. I’m going to share it later.

Dried rosemary is a gift from mom II(mother-in-law). She says I must use it in meat dishes, it is as good as thyme, which we always use with meat and chicken. As I do love the fresh one, I was easily persuaded and started to use it in dishes with beef and lamb. I must say that fresh rosemary is way better than dried one, but it’s a good alternative when you can’t find it fresh.

Lemon zest has a different story. My parents are living in Tarsus, Mersin, famous for its citrus fruits, and they send a big box of lemons from there every year. They smell so good even before they are cut! My husband Yusuf is always tempted with their smell and he loves to eat them with their zest. He discovered this dried lemon zest last year on a day when we had lots of squeezed lemons. You can learn How to Dry Lemon Zest from him. You can have them in big pieces or pounded. We use the bigger version in fruit tea, and the pounded one in chicken dishes. It gives a very nice refreshing flavor!

What do spices mean to you? Do you love to use them in your cooking too?

6 Different #Spices From #Turkey


  1. Lorna Moravec says

    Well this is very interesting and such beautiful pictures. I use cumin in my breakfast eggs too! I also use rosemary or thyme when cooking meat. I never use the others. I just slice up a lemon to squeeze some in my tea, but rarely use the zest. I use hot peppers, but usually it is jalapeno. So interesting the way our cultures are the same in some ways and different in others.

    • says

      Thank you Lorna! I sometimes add a tiny slice of lemon to my black tea, but I love dried ones more with apple tea. I love jalapeno too, but it’s rare here. It’s great that we have similarities in our culture!

  2. says

    oh, these spices are making me long to go back to Turkey! Funny thing, in Lebanon too adding cumin to eggs is traditional, maybe we learned it from the Ottomans! :) Eager to check out these other spices!

    • says

      Here, people season eggs with a mixture of ground black pepper, chili powder and cumin. We love spices even with simple foods like eggs! It’s obvious that we have several similarities in our culture and I think it goes back to our history.

  3. says

    Lovely! I am addicted to spices and herbs… Cumin and isot peppers are my favorite. I tend to add cumin to a lot of dishes… 😉



    • says

      Wow! Rosa, it’s great that you know isot! I thought it was not that famous around the world! Cumin is such a great spice that a little of it is enough to make any dish tasty!

  4. says

    This is a great post! I have not cooked with saffron but keep seeing at the store and thinking I should give it a try. Thanks for inspiring me!

    • says

      Hi Julia, actually the spice your see in the picture is a good substitute for saffron called haspir or aspir. I haven’t tried saffron yet, but I’m also curious about it.

  5. Bams Kitchen says

    Beautiful and colorful photography of your herbs and spices. I also cook with many different kinds of spices. You need a really big spice drawer for all of these things. My drawer is completely overflowing and now on to my counter top….I love toasting some of my spices whole first to give a nice flavor. I am not familiar with isot pepper, what dishes do you use this spice. Have a super weekend. BAM

    • says

      You’re right Bam! I have a large shelf in my kitchen for spices, and it’s sometimes difficult to find the spice I’m looking for:) As for isot pepper, the most popular dish we use it in is rawkofte. I gave its link in the post, you can sheck it out there:)

  6. says

    Delicious post Zerrin, can’t imagine cooking without spices : ) loved your photos as always, they capture the essence of the spices; they add a ton of flavour to the dishes naturally, beautiful color, beautiful fragrance. Like you I am a huge fan of cumin and the aleppo pepper, and I need to try Hasbir, many thanks for introducing that, very interesting. One more for me, that is sumac! I love its tangy aromatic flavor, especially in salads and marinations : ) Ozlem

    • says

      Ozlem, sumac is one of my favorite too! Love to add it to some soups and definitely in onion salad or potato salad.

  7. says

    Cumin in eggs? That is a new one for me Zerrin and one that I can’t wait to try. I never heard of isot or haspir before – love learning about them from you/ I do love rosemary – it is also really good on potatoes paired with garlic or even a little lemon zest or both.

    • says

      You must try cumin with eggs Reeni! You will love the flavor it gives to eggs! And thank you for the idea of using rosemary with potatoes!

  8. says

    That looks like saffron. Never heard of it before. I will research about it.
    I brought some Isot back, it is lovely!

    I will add some cumin to my egg today and will go read your husband’s post about the lemon zest. Because we make a lot of lemonade during summer and I hate to waste all that lemon.

    • says

      Hope you love cumin on your egg! If lemons are from my hometown, I definitely eat them with their zest! Love their fragrance!

  9. Rodrigo says

    Hey Zerrin, your post makes me happy !
    I live in Brasil and my mom just arrived from Turkey with some new spices for me.
    In Brasil we use rosemary ( “alecrim” in brazilian portuguese ) for meat, but I tried a simple mixture of sea salt + rosemary + zest of orange peel ( grated orange peel ) for grilled fish and it’s fantastic !


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