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I wrote this piece, about spontaneously spending el Día de los Muertos with a family in Oaxaca, several years ago; it’s based on an experience...
What: For this insanely rich, decadent local specialty, sheets of yufka (like phyllo dough) are rolled up, sliced, moistened with chicken broth, and then topped with shredded chicken or turkey, butter, and finely crushed walnuts. As over-the-top as it seems when presented with this meaty, savory, nutty dish, the soft, thin phyllo spirals somehow impart a lightness to it. As with cevizli mantı, it’s another beautiful use of the Black Sea region’s affinity for local walnuts (and, well, butter). And after days of eating beef and lamb in every imaginable way, you might find the poultry is a nice change of pace.
Where: At Tanyeri Hamam Restaurant (0-368-260-4530; Sakarya Cad. Büyükcami Karşısı), you can eat your islama inside an old Turkish bath turned restaurant. Ask the staff if you can see the back hamam room, where a disco ball now hangs.
When: Daily, 8am-8pm
Order: The islama (13 TL), made with chicken, is delicious here, and very filling—one serving is plenty for two (probably more) to share. The generous coating of crushed walnuts adds the perfect textural contrast to the soft, moist yufka. To an American palate, this tastes a little like a Thanksgiving casserole!
Alternatively: At the entrance to the Pervane Medresesi, a 1262-built seminary now lined with local shops, Sinop Sofrası (0-368-260-5461; Meydan Kapı Mah. Pervane Medresesi, No. 16, map) also offers islama—during our visit we were asked to order it a day in advance—as well as other local specialties like cevizli mantı.
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