I learned all these after I got married but I must admit that I was quite surprised to find out that Sivas cuisine is very rich in naturally growing herbs. I always thought Mediterrranean cuisine would be the richest but Sivas would definitely compete hard:)
With the coming of spring (mostly in May and June), a wide variety of dishes are made from flavourful herbs such as Indian knotgrass, mallow, nettles, muirhead, field bindweed and many others without counterparts in the West. All are extremely popular. Indeed it is believed that those who consume dishes prepared from seven of these herbs just before a clap of thunder will not get ill that year:)
Indian knotgrass (madimak in Turkish) has a special place among these herbs. Although unknown in many parts of Anatolia, in the cuisine of Sivas this herb is a veritable legend that comes out every year as the harbinger of spring following a harsh winter. It is said to be a remedy for a thousand of illnesses. It is very difficult to gather and not easy to cook. My mother-in-law is one of the experts on madimak and whenever we go to Sivas, it is always in the menu. The elderly prefer to gather as much as they can during spring time, put it in their deep freezes so that they will have some to offer to special guests during autumn and winter: The special guests for my mother-in-law are us in this case:)
If you happen to be in Sivas (and around) in summer time, you may come across the following festivals:
June 12-13: Pir Sultan Festivities, Banaz Village, Yildizeli
July: Asik Veysel Culture and Art Festival, Sarkisla
August 14: Gürün Apricot Festival, Gürün
September 3: Imrali Honey Festival
September 2-5: Sivas Congress Culture and Art Festivities, Sivas
In Sivas, foods and drinks made for special days carry the significance of that day. Foods prepared for seasonal festivities and ceremonial foods eaten together have a pleasant nostalgic quality, and bring a common feeling of solidarity, of sharing of joy and sorrows.
Foods prepared for seasonal celebrations such as religious holidays, kandils, asure month, Nevruz; weddings and circumcision celebrations, the iftar and sahur meals during Ramadan, feasts given to celebrate the return from the Haji, company dishes, foods prepared for the ill and for women who have just given birth, and foods sent to a home where there has been a death, all carry the meaning of these days.
Following are some of the foods associated with these occasions:
The preparation of Bayram, or feast dishes begins the day before the eve of the feast. The eve of the feast is the busiest day for food preparation. Some of the foods that are always present on feast days include soup, hurma and sarma (stuffed vine/cabbage/chard leaves).
Another food for Bayram is sarma (stuffed grape leaves) with meat. Made with fatty meat, bulgur, onions, pepper paste, parsley, spices, salt and pepper, they are made together with the neighbours. The sarma made for the Feast of the Sacrifice are made with the meat from the animal sacrificed, on the day of the Bayram itself.
The first Bayram after a death in a family is known as Yas Bayrami (“mourning Bayram”); on such a Bayram guests are served coffee with no sugar and no sweets are served.
Those return from the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, serve a meal those who come to visit them. Eaten all together, this meal consists of meat with vegetables, pilaf with chickpeas, compote and halvah. The meal is generally cooked by professional cooks and is open to all. In recent years, etli ekmek, a type of open pide popular in Sivas, has become a common dish to serve to visitors, along with ayran.
Sivas is known for its fine carpets of numerous designs and colors. These locally produced weavings offer a wide variety of choice, and the inherent high quality is not subject to variation. They are famed for their original color and designs, high quality and good workmanship.
Sivas cuisine is one of the richest in central Anatolia, offering a wide variety of options: Sivas cuisine consists mainly of pulse foods. Dishes such as kes, perkutan, cokelik are based on milk.
During the summer butter accompanies dishes such as beet soup, madimak, evelik, dügürcek; during the winter tirhit, sübüra, kelecos, tarhana soup, meatball pasties, and pastry like hingel are preferred. The Sivas Kebab is also well-known.
Ash buns fried in woks, fodla, kombe made with potato or cheese, kete, lavash bread, filo pastry are all locally made bread varieties.
My favourites are madimak (the name of a herb, similar to spinach) and the meatballs.
A special characteristic of Sivas are the world famous Kangal dogs. These sheep dogs have proven their loyalty and success even in the harshest climates such as in this city, and are confidently used in the area of police and military work.
Kangal is a town within the boundaries of city of Sivas, 68 km away from the city center. The dogs are named after this town.
Kangal district of Sivas is the homeland of Anatolian Shepperd Dogs known as Kangal Dogs.
Kangal Dogs is the only recognised dog breed of Turkey and it is one of the very rare dogs in the world whose genetic structure is not mixed with other breed.
Kangal dogs have been living in Anatolia for thousands of years as the best friends of shepherds. Now, Kangal Dogs is considered as a national stamp and the pure breed is not allowed to export.
Kangal dogs are brillant guardians for the livestock. They are very brave, intelligent and protective. They are good nannies for children as well since they never give harm to children and never let strangers come closer to them.
You see the photo of a baby Kangal i saw in the garden of a restaurant. I recommend you not missing the oppurtunity to play with a Kangal dog whenever you see them in Sivas. They are very playful and amiable.
You can find more information about them here:
historically SEBASTEA, SEBASTEIA, or MEGALOPOLIS-SEBASTEIA, city, central Turkey. It lies at an elevation of 4,183 feet (1,275 m) in the broad valley of the Kzl River.
Although excavations at a mound known as Topraktepe indicate Hittite settlements in the locality, nothing is known of Sivas' history prior to its emergence as the Roman city of Sebastea, which became the capital of Armenia Minor under the emperor Diocletian near the end of the 3rd century.
Justinian I had the city walls rebuilt and fortified in the 6th century, and under the Byzantine emperors Sebastea was a large and wealthy Anatolian city. In 1021 Sennacherib-John, the Armenian king of Vaspurakan (Van), ceded his dominions to the emperor Basil II and became the Byzantine viceroy of Sebastea.
His successors served in the same position until the Turks arrived in the area in the late 11th century. The Turkmen Danishmend dynasty conquered Sebastea about 1080-90, renamed it Sivas, and made it the capital of a principality until it fell to the Seljuq sultan of Rum in 1172.
Under the Seljuqs, Sivas reached its greatest prosperity, becoming one of the most important cities of Anatolia; it was said to have had more than 150,000 inhabitants when it was plundered by the Central Asian ruler Timur (Tamerlane) in 1400.
Although it never regained its former prosperity, Sivas was an important provincial capital under the Ottoman Empire, and in September 1919 it served as the site of the second national congress called by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), later the first president of Turkey.
This congress eventually led to the expulsion of the European occupying forces, the end of the Ottoman Empire, and the establishment of the republic.
Sivas contains some of the finest remains of 13th-century Seljuq architecture. Of these, the medreses (religious schools) are particularly noteworthy: the Gök (Blue) Medrese (1271), which houses the local museum; the Sifaiye Medresesi (1217-18), originally a hospital, containing the tomb of its founder, Sultan Kay-Ka'us I; and the Çifte Minare Medrese with its intricately carved facade and minarets.
The oldest mosque is the Ulu Cami ('Great Mosque'), dating from the Turkmen era. Near the city is the Armenian monastery of the Holy Cross, which contains a royal throne and other relics.
In the past, Sivas owed much of its importance as a communications centre to the north-south and west-east trade routes to Iraq and Iran, respectively. With the development of railways, the city gained new economic importance. It stands at the junction of several railways and highways and is linked by air with Istanbul via Ankara.
The city's manufactures include cement and cotton and woolen textiles.
The surrounding region is drained by the Kzl, Kelkit, Çalt, and Tohma rivers. It is an important cereal-producing area and contains large deposits of iron ore, which are worked at Divrigi. Pop. (1990) city, 221,512.
With many thanks to Britannica.com one of best reliable sources on the WEB