Certainly, there are many similarities among the cuisines of Turkey, Greece, and the Levant (however defined), but Turkish cuisine certainly has its own mooring. Rebecca Seal’s “Instanbul” explores much of what makes Turkish cuisine unique and together with the poised, yet revealing photography of Steven Joyce, brings Turkey right into one’s home. The food photography is excellent, but so are the scenes of Turkey depicted in this cookbook which almost has the feel of  travelogue.

I confess, I don’t usually eat many eggs (I used to indulge heavily) or even breakfast at all anymore, but from the first page, I was hooked with the vibrant red-orange recipe for “Menemen,” spicy scrambled eggs. I am a sucker for spice and would never have thought to add tomato paste and red pepper paste to bring, along with chili flakes, and feta, eggs to a new height of heat, sweetness, and savoriness. (The poached eggs in garlicky yoghurt aren’t too bad either)!

The book only gets better from there.

Many of the vegetable dishes are simple, slow-simmered, and enriched with tomato or red pepper paste and enlivened with a few spices. Cooking need not be difficult, but it should be flavorful–and for the health conscious, this book displays why so many people talk about the “Mediterranean Diet.” By Mediterranean Diet, many mean Italy, Provence, or Greece, but if you like food with a little more of a kick and the intrigue of spices, then this book is for you!

I greatly enjoyed the eggplant stuffed with lamb and the grilled chicken with sumac.The sandwiches, salads, dips, roasts, and grilled meets and seafood in this book will provide something for everyone in your family or at a party in any season of the year. The walnut/zucchini dip was unexpected and a hit when I served it.

A word about sumac: sumac is one of those few pantry staples one needs to bring the authentic flavors of Turkey and much cooking in the Levant to your home; there is no replacement. Luckily, if it is not available in stores near you, it is readily available and inexpensive on Amazon.

I’m not going to Turkey anytime soon, but I am glad to travel there through Rebecca Seal’s efforts.