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Dhaka Tribune

This Turkish buffet will transport you to the heart of Istanbul

If you can’t afford a vacation there right now, this is the next best thing

Update : 01 Sep 2022, 06:20 PM

Just the thought of Turkey conjures up images of mouth watering kebabs, pides and sweeter than sweet baklavas. Food that should be easy to make in Dhaka, but they don’t always seem to be able to get it right.

Either the kebabs are too dry or they do not have the right spice blend, baklavas not having the right pistachio ratio, the list is endless.

So when Dhaka’s newest 5 star hotel, Sheraton announced they will be bringing chef’s from Turkey, Guest Chefs Ahmet Güler, Sait Dursun and Mehmet Aslan to showcase the delectable culinary heritage of Turkey, we had to see it for ourselves.

Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The signature delicacies includes the classic Eggplant karniyarik, the light Hunkar Begendi, the rich,vibrant Guvec, the traditional potato Oturtma, and an array of melt-in-your-mouth kebabs including adana kebab, urfa kebab, and beyti kebab.

The Sheraton began with Turkish food because of their in-house Turkish pastry chef Erhan Demir, so you know you’re in good hands - and his access to other Turkish culinary artists.

The buffet style spread also included a selection of hot and cold dishes at the table (Mezze) by guest chefs Sait Dursun, Mehmet Aslan, and Ahmet Güler. It was hard not to fill up on those alone.

The Ezme salad - a spicy tomato and olive oil concoction will tickle every taste bud and not your typical salad. The Turkish have a way of turning the most simple ingredients into the star of the show.

Chef Demir explained how local produce was kept in mind when deciding for the menu for this week-long festival.

“We sat down to see which ingredients were available in Bangladesh, and we decided on the menu like that," he revealed.

While both Turkish and Bangladeshi foods have rich flavor profiles, chef Demir points out a key difference in both cuisines.

Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

“The lack of spice in Turkish cuisine, and the persistent occurrence of it in Bangladeshi food is what really sets them apart,” he added.

Although the menu was constructed keeping local cuisine in mind, the hindquarters of a lamb were difficult to find, an essential ingredient in Turkish cuisine, according to Demir. 

Due to the unavailability, they decided to use other parts of a lamb that still retained the flavours to their best ability.

Among a variety, the dessert selection prepared by the master chef includes a Turkish staple, baklavas, with the walnut and pistachio, folded in filo pastry and washed in a heavenly syrup.

Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The Ottoman food festival is located on the 14th floor of the hotel at the Garden Kitchen.

It features a Byzantine and Ottoman architectural style with blue lights adorned in traditional Turkish designs.

Rezaur Khan, director of rooms at the Sheraton Dhaka said "Sheraton is more of a community setting, we look forward to seeing a lot of different kinds of guests at the festival and our banquet hall.””

Sheraton is relying on the fine dining experiences, swimming classes, banquet and other miscellaneous facilities that a 5-star hotel can offer, and the opening of the Garden Kitchen, where the Ottoman Food Festival is held, plays a vital role in drawing international customers, and the people of the local community, he also said.

“For example, now we are targeting Turkish cuisine. We will use this cuisine to push Turkish Airlines and the Turkish Embassy in Bangladesh, and reach out to that community to bring them in as well”, said Daniel J Muhor, cluster general manager at the Sheraton Dhaka.

Although it is the first one since Sheraton’s opening, international food festivals at the Sheraton are touted to become a part of its consistent brand image, a recurrence possible every two months.

Courtesy

Muhor explained how their long-term return on investment (ROI) from the Ottoman food festival and similar ones in the future is to leverage the time taken for the international chefs to train the local chefs to make these authentic dishes.

“Once the festival finishes, we keep them on to train our local chefs,” he said.

The prime partners for the festival are Brac Bank and Visa.

A buy-one-get-one-free offer is also available from 15+ bank partners during the festival; a lot of the clientele for the food festival is also driven by the banks, According to Muhor.

“Our target customer base is always our regular clients, which is driven a lot by our bank sponsors and our bank partners, '' he said.

The buffet is priced at Tk8,500, with the Turkish cuisine available only during dinner.

Profits are a part of the main concern to keep up the costs of bringing in international chefs. However the prices are still tilted to favour the customers to keep inflation hikes at bay.

“We’re running on the same price that we would normally on a Thursday or a Friday, so we haven't really increased the prices.”  Muhor concluded.

The festival will end on September 9, so you have a week to experience the best culinary offerings from Turkey right in the heart of Dhaka.

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