What flavours embody the spirit of winter for you?
I think slow cooked lamb shoulder on a bed of smoky eggplant puree with Turkish bread. Roasted chestnuts on the fire; I can taste the sweetness in mouth – yum. And a pot of beautiful red lentil soup slow cooked on the stove.
How did your latest cookbook, Turkish Fire, come about?
This is my third book and it came about because I wanted to do a book about my father. He was the most fiery, passionate man I’ve ever known. This is something he passed onto me and that fire is now in my belly. It’s why this book had to be called Fire. This and the Turks love to cook on an open fire. They are fiery and passionate people, which is why Turkish Fire is the perfect name for my third book.
This fire and passion is just a way of life. Much like Turkish cuisine, it’s a blend of east and west. It’s simple, fresh food that is made with lots of love; our love of diversity, our love of colour, our love of simplicity, our love of fire.
What drew you to cooking?
I grew up following my mother around the kitchen, stealing bits of dough as she was making bread. I grew up cooking with her and have always loved cooking and food. It’s in my soul. Fresh food, simple food. The best skill that she taught me was how to cook.
Favourite dish to whip up for an easy Sunday breakfast?
A traditional Turkish breakfast. We have lots of little bowls; a little bowl of olives, a little bowl of tomato, a little bowl of cucumber, a little bowl of butter, a little bowl of jam and so on. Then I would panfry some Turkish sausage with some eggs fried on top and some crusty Turkish bread on the side. If I had time I would make the flaky Turkish bread as well. This breakfast will always take me back home.
A selection of Sevtap’s wonderful recipes can be found in her latest cookbook, Turkish Fire, published by Hardie Grant.