In Turkey, labelling food ‘Kurdish’ still controversial

The Ottoman Empire had a rich culinary tradition flavoured by its various diverse regions and ethnic groups. Chefs in Istanbul’s imperial kitchens borrowed dishes from the different enclaves of the empire – the Balkans, Greece, the Caucasus, Kurdistan, Arabia – fused them with their Central Asian roots, and refined them to create their own unique concoctions, such as baklava, dumplings, stuffed vegetables and various types of kebab.

Present-day Turkey has inherited this cosmopolitan culinary legacy. However, the modern republic defined its identity ethnically, specifically with the Turkish ethnicity. In the past it severely oppressed its various minorities, and in the case of the largest – the Kurds – even denied their very existence, though this repression has largely declined through major reforms in more recent years.

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