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Treasures of the Kadikoy bazaar of the quake-stricken Kahramanmaras region

Treasures of the Kadikoy bazaar of the quake-stricken Kahramanmaras region


An extraordinary market fair was held in Kadikoy over the weekend to support artisans and vendors from Kahramanmaraş, one of the 10 provinces hardest hit by the twin earthquakes that rocked Turkey in February. The “Kahramanmaraş Dayanışma Pazarı” (Kahramanmaraş Solidarity Market) was taking place in Festival Park, which is located next to Kadıköy’s Rıhtım IDO Seabus stop, from 10 am to 10 pm and will end on Monday, May 8.

This unique outdoor exhibition, consisting of dozens of pavilions, is being held in support of the earthquake victims, who are understandably suffering financially and unable to run their business as usual. But for those in Istanbul, this is a unique opportunity to purchase a wide range of items and products from a specific region known as the birthplace of many specialties, including Maraş ice cream.

Ice cream, walnuts, pepper

For foreigners, the word Maraşlı may sound familiar, as while it is a shortened version of the name of the province, it is also the name given to the famous ice cream that hails from the region. Marash ice cream is the kind that vendors with huge brass crates would treat customers with long brass stick shaped ice cream scoops which they would then use to tease their customers by twisting, turning and even grabbing a scoop of ice cream. From the same cone that was supposed to serve. They are able to do this because of the ice cream’s strong elasticity, which is derived from the stirring and mixing process of ingredients that include goat’s milk, mastic and orchid root, also known as “slip” in Turkish. This type of ice cream is referred to as Kahramanmaraş Dövme Dondurması, and it is also known for being hard enough to be cut into portions with a knife.

Sumac sauce, battle cookies, pistachio paste and taran chips

You may be surprised to know that Kahramanmaraş has many products registered as trademarks and patents from the region. Some of the regional items you can expect to find in this market will be Maraş pistachio paste, ground pistachios in a shape similar to a chocolate bar, into which small oblong pieces can be broken. In addition, the region’s Maraş Çöreği, a semolina and yogurt cookie prepared during Ottoman times for soldiers to consume on their battle campaigns but now ready on holidays, will also be available to try, along with Andırın Tirşiği, the province’s signature soup that It is characterized by the process of fermentation and preparation with wild vegetables, yogurt, chickpeas and cracked wheat.

Sumak Ekşisi is a sour sumac sauce similar to the acidity of the pomegranate that many will be familiar with, and it is also a specialty hailing from the region. Çağlayancerit Cevizi is a flatter, softer nut that comes from the neighborhood and derives its name, while Afşin Koçovası’s purple garlic is one of the best in Turkey and known for its thick skins that keep its freshness all winter long. Maraş Biber, the pepper used to make Turkey’s best chili powder and flakes, is one of the most popular products in the region. Maraş is also famous for Tarhana, a powdered or spice-mixed soup, considered to be the world’s first condensed soup. In Marash, in addition to being prepared as a soup, the tarhana mixture stands alone as a snack to eat, to add as a flavor to stews and meat dishes. They are even fried into potato chip-like shapes.

Leather shoes, knives, embroidery

Famous for its culinary dishes, the region has produced many unique accessories such as Kahramanmaraş al-Yamanishi: a handmade shoe. They consist of different types of leather for each section of the shoe, colored with natural dyes and stitched with cotton threads. These distinctive shoes are distinguished by their high pointed toe and because they are identical in that they do not tend to have a ‘right’ or ‘left’ shoe and can therefore be worn interchangeably.

Maraş is known for its intricate handicrafts, including the traditional carved walnut box specific to the region. Walnut wood is famous for its nuts, and it should come as no surprise that walnut wood was used to create these hand-carved chests that are usually a meter wide and decorated entirely with elegant motifs. Meanwhile, Marrash is also known for having some of the most extensive copper makers to this day. For example, many of the brass items found in the Grand Bazaar come from this region.

Another practical specialty from the region is Hartlap Bıçağı, a type of knife that has been popular throughout the nation’s history and is still a prized possession for many. Portable while bent and closed, this particular knife is made with a blade created through a unique style of hand-serrated steel work attached to a handle made from various natural products such as buffalo, ram, goat horns, or boxwood. In addition to these branded knives, the Hartlap knife smiths are known for producing some of the best knives in the country, used for hunting, in the kitchen, or even by döner sellers.

Last but not least, Maraş is also known for its unique embroidery technique referred to as File Nakışı, which involves unraveling threads of cloth and then weaving and embroidering them into various designs and motifs. Similarly, Maraş is known for having some of the most intricate hand embroidery techniques, with silk thread on silk thread and gold and silver thread embroidered on rich velvet fabrics.

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