Colombo has recently been a delightful host to a series of Turkish food festivals, enchanting food enthusiasts with the essence of Turkish culinary culture. Each event was a fascinating display of Türkiye’s rich and diverse gastronomy, further deepening Sri Lanka’s love for Turkish cuisine and culture.
A trio of sumptuous food festivals held in 2020, 2022 and 2023 has allowed the city to savor the best of Türkiye’s culinary offerings, reflecting a growing appreciation for Turkish gastronomy in Sri Lanka. These events have not only introduced a multitude of delightful dishes but also shared warmth of Turkish hospitality in Colombo.
The Hilton Colombo Residences, in partnership with the Turkish Embassy and Turkish Airlines, presented the Turkish food promotion, ‘Turkish Delight’ in the year 2020. The festival featured two notable guest chefs Mr. Ali Demir and Mr. Musa Akyaman from Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus who brought their intrinsic Turkish flavors, making it a vibrant experience for attendees. It highlighted not only the timeless recipes from Turkish cuisine but also the cultural narratives that make each dish unique.
Year 2022, saw the celebratory air of Türkiye Republic Day filled with the aromatic allure of Turkish delicacies at the Galle Face Hotel. The Verendah at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo together with the Turkish Embassy and the Turkish Airlines collaborated to organise ‘Turkish Culinary Days 2022’, as part of commemorating the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Türkiye. ‘Turkish Culinary Days’ was an exquisite showcase of the Mediterranean and Ottoman influences on Turkish cuisine. Executive Chef of Inter-Continental Istanbul, Mr. Recep Özkaya, was flown down to prepare the flavours of Turkish cuisine for the food festival. The festival was a harmonious blend of tradition and taste, enchanting the palates of attendees with a spectrum of dishes that narrated the tales of Turkish regions.
Some of the signature dishes at the buffet were the cold meze platters showcasing a range of chargrilled meats, delicious vegetable dips and pastries. The menu also consisted of sides such as pide – Turkish bread, soups, kebabs and much more. The sweet showstopper were the popular Turkish delight and Kabak Tatlısı.
Turkish Food Festival 2023 was unveiled at the Courtyard by Mariott Hotel Colombo with a magnificent diversity of Türkiye’s culinary landscapes. The event not only stood as a testament to Türkiye’s magnificent cuisine but also symbolized love, peace, and the unity of cultures through food.
Two guest chefs Mr. Volkan Gur and Mr. Eren Barishan who were specially flown down used premium quality ingredients and delicacies, gave diners an extraordinary experience of Turkish food, to compliment the mouthhwatering dishes, a variety of Turkish desserts such as Baklava, rice pudding and more were delightfully presented.
This year’s food festival also featured a Turkish cultural item ‘Sufi dance’ with two whirling devishes who travelled from Türkiye to convey through their performances, the message of peace and love.
Strategic collaborations between the Turkish Embassy, Turkish Airlines, and renowned local hotels, bringing in famous chefs from Türkiye have immensely contributed to the authentic Turkish culinary experience during the past years, fostering a deeper appreciation and understanding of the cuisine.
Each festival was a canvas of tastes, narrating tales from the heart of Türkiye’s culinary landscapes. From exquisite mezzes to succulent kebabs, and delightful desserts, each dish was a melody of flavors that resonated with the warmth and authenticity of Turkish culture.
These festivals were not merely about tasting food; they were about experiencing Türkiye’s rich cultural tapestry, stitched with threads of history, tradition, and a deep sense of community. They illustrated the beauty of culinary diversity and the universal language of food in bridging cultures and fostering friendships.
A delightful fusion of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan flavours, Turkish food has found a warm reception among Sri Lankans. One reason for the increasing popularity of Turkish food in Sri Lanka might be due to the similarities it shares with the local cuisine such as generous use of spices, herbs, and meats.
Colombo’s embrace of these Turkish food festivals signifies a shared enthusiasm for culinary exploration and a mutual appreciation of diverse cultural heritages. Looking forward, we can only anticipate more such delightful events, further enhancing the cultural and culinary bonds between our nations.