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Get Creative With Spices from Little Istanbul in White River Junction

Feb 11, 2022 01:02PM ● By Virginia Dean

A major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul might seem like it really is 5,000 miles away, but that distance is wonderfully shortened by White River Junction’s Little Istanbul store.

Its' owner Vural Oktay, who was born and raised in Istanbul, began learning the restaurant business as a teenager working at hotels there and now uses that knowledge to offer the best, handmade, authentic Turkish items from small-time makers and artists. 

The popular store carries a wide selection of rugs and carpets with natural organic dyes in addition to kilim handbags, shoes, ceramic bowls and plates, and mosaic lamps. It also features Turkish spices to delight your senses. The list includes over 60 exotic flavors from the Middle East, Mediterranean, and beyond. The spice display in the center of the store consists of over 60 exotic food enhancers. All prices are based on minimum ounces.

Some bestsellers include Za’atar ($9), Baharat ($8.50), Sumac ($9.99), Harissa Spice ($9.99), Ras El Hanout ($10.99), Vural’s Blend ($8.20), Madras Curry ($9.95), and Aleppo Pepper ($7.30).

It is no wonder why traditional Turkish cuisine is so appreciated worldwide. The combination of ingredients used in cooking, cooking techniques, and indispensable cooking sauces make Turkish dishes a delight but the most magical parts of Turkish cuisine are the hidden spices. 

Red pepper flakes ($3.60), for example, are used in all types of cooking, from soups to juicy hotpot dishes and casseroles to stir-fries. 

Thyme ($3.60) brewed in hot water is often consumed as a tea. It has a sharp aroma and is especially preferred in meat dishes. 

Mint ($6) is a favorite herb used in salads, appetizers, cold juices, stuffed vegetables (dolma), and yogurt dishes with its intense essence and refreshing flavors. 

Cumin ($6) is used in such popular dishes as kofte (meatballs) and meat dishes. It is also used to make spicy sausages known as sucuk. 

Sumac is a spice known to be as tart and tangy as a lemon. It is used in Turkish cuisine, especially in Turkey’s most famous kebab dishes, onion salads, raw meatballs, fish, and Turkish ravioli. 

Cinnamon ($17.40 sticks) is used in the rice used for stuffing vegetables, lamb, and chicken dishes. It’s also added to beverages such as boza and salep, which are unique to Turkish cuisine. 

Cloves ($3), which are used in the production of cakes and desserts, are also included in herbal teas.

For more information, contact [email protected] or call 802.698.8611. Little Istanbul is located at 27 North Main Street in White River Junction, VT. 05001. Store hours are Monday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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