Quick Profile: Filiz Hösükoğlu

A well known culinary researcher and writer Filiz Hösükoğlu has been an indispensable resource to many international researchers, cookbook authors and media professionals during their research on Turkish Cuisine. Some of these researchers were Saveur magazine’s food editor Todd Coleman, The Culinary Institute of America, Conde Nast Traveler, former New York Times editor, correspondent and bureau chief Stephen Kinzer, authors Paula Wolfert, Lucy and Greg Malouf. A native of Gaziantep, Filiz is an expert on the region’s cooking, local dishes and speciality products such as pistachios. One of Filiz’s many projects to promote the cultural and historical heritage of Southeastern Anatolia was selected third in the Culinary Travel category for Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2009. (  

Filiz, a Mechanical Engineer who found her life passion in food, plans to compile her research in Turkish cuisine into a book soon. Her dream is to curate a documentary about the regional culinary traditions and techniques.  She is currently collaborating with Istanbul Culinary Institute and will be hosting a culinary tour into Gaziantep, this fall.

The meat dishes of the region are quite famous. What is it that distinguishes the region’s meat dishes from those of other regions?

  1. Where the meat comes from and how it is processed are very important. The Southeastern sheep feeds on the valleys of the region and then transferred to feeding facilities that use barley and straw for two months.  This process and staging impact the taste of the meat significantly. The next important step is about how the meat is processed in the hands of skillful butchers.  A good butcher knows for what dish, what type of meat and what part of the animal is most suitable.

What are some of the regional meat dishes?

  1. For home cooking, the meat dishes can be grouped into two categories: kebabs and meat dishes made in a pot. Kebabs most popular in the region are those made with  plain or marinated cubes of meat, ground meat, ground meat with red pepper paste, with garlic, onions, parsley, apple etc and eggplant kebab.  Meat dishes cooked in a pot are tender meat in garlicky meat stock (beyran), potato in yogurt sauce (yogurtlu patates), chopped eggplant in sour sauce with mint (doğrama), zucchini stuffed with meat (kabak oturtması), lamb chops with quince (taraklık tavası), chick-pea size meatballs in sour sauce (ekşili ufak köfte), raw meatball (çiğ köfte), Uzbek pilaf (özbek pilavı) and bulgur meat balls steamed in strainer (süzek yapması).

What is your favorite regional dish?

  1. One of my favorites is a purslane dish called Pirpirim aşı in Turkish or with its national name, Semizotu yemeği. It is not only delicious but its ingredients such as purslane, garbanzos, bulgur, mint, garlic, onion, lemon juice etc.,are also quite nutritious. The Omega-3 content of purslane is beneficial for heart health, and also has additional cholesterol reducing benefits. It also cleans the blood.

Are there any chefs that have inspired you?

  1. First and foremost, a chef I most admire is my mom. She prepares everything, every dish as if she is preparing it for a guest, with utmost patience and attention to detail. Among the foreign chefs, I admire Julia Child. While she provided guidance on cooking in a scientific manner, she also presented taking pleasure from cooking as an essential ingredient to cooking.

Through your work, you have met many international researchers, cookbook authors and chefs. What do you think about the general perceptions of foreigners about Turkish cuisine?

  1. Many researchers coming to Turkey already have high expectations and they are still surprised with what they find here: the richness of the ingredients as well as cooking techniques, the variety in flavors and especially the Turkish hospitality they come across when they are presented with dishes and specialties cooked at Turkish homes.  This has such an incredible influence on these researchers that most of them come back for a second or third time to try to capture and digest it all.

  2. The important characteristics of our cuisine that draw international interest are: local ingredients, the heritage of recipes transferred from one generation to the other and the attention paid to steps and techniques when preparing these recipes along with the rich variety of the cuisine overall. Sometimes, starting with only one ingredient, we can achieve a surprising variety. One example for this is bulgur. Especially in Southeastern Anatolia, this ingredient shows up in every meal.  But the different ingredients used and the variety of dishes produced are further proof to the imagination that is inherent in Turkish cuisine.

  3. Another interesting discovery for most researchers and authors is how nature and natural ingredients and riches of the region are respected, used with slight variations from one village to another and how, with a natural intuition, the locals aim to get most out of everything that is produced and used, and waste is kept to a minimum.

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Also see...
Filiz’s favorite dish is Pirpirim Aşı made with purslane. Want to know how it is made? Read her recipe on EAT.../../../../Eat/Entries/2010/7/7_Recipe__Pirpirim_As_%28Purslane_Dish%29.html


  1. Meet Filiz, witness baklava making at a local workshop in Gaziantep, visit a local village during pistachio harvest season and taste many regional specialty dishes.

  2. Join us this September in Gaziantep!

  3. For information on dates and program, please e-mail us at

Gaziantep and Southeastern Anatolia: Home of Unforgettable Baklava and Pistachios

Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t know what baklava is or wouldn’t recognize this flaky, buttery, sweet piece of heavenly pastry from the Middle East? Probably not. But not many people outside of Turkey know that the Turkish home of baklava and the unforgettable pistachios that make these pastries so memorable is Gaziantep in the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey.  This region is also known for many tasty kebabs, spicy specialties, bulgur dishes and much more, making it one of the top regions for its contribution to the culinary heritage of Turkey. 

We recently interviewed Filiz Hösükoğlu, a food researcher and author from Gaziantep about the culinary riches of this region, its unique dishes and what brings so many food researchers and authors to this region. Here is what she had to say.  (For more information on Southeastern Anatolia, its cultural and culinary wonders, make sure to also check out this link for a guide in English, which Filiz helped put together.)