By Helen Drake 

As if being a freelance journalist, author and film-maker weren’t enough, Jody Sabral has recently started a catering business specialising in Anatolian cuisine. She is joined in this venture by her Turkish best friend of 15 years, Mesude Kulak, who is an artist and came to live in St Leonards this year with her young daughter.

Jody lived and worked in the area of Turkey known as Anatolia – the name given to the large peninsula in Western Asia, also known as Asia Minor – for over 10 years, and in that time grew to love the Turkish way of life and their food. Working as a foreign correspondent, she travelled around a lot, often by bus, and was impressed by the consistently good quality of the food at the bus stops. Because it was served canteen style, she was able to point at dishes to try them, before she became proficient in the language and the food.

Mesude Kulak and Jody Sabral

Jody and Mesude met in Istanbul and their idea for the business came about because they were spending so much time in the kitchen “cooking again”, just like they used to in Istanbul, where “everything revolves around food”. 

“It’s where I learnt to eat properly. Prior to going there I didn’t have a brilliant diet. I learnt how to satisfy all my tastes … the canteen food can be quite light but it takes in lots of tastes, savoury and sweet … especially breakfast is like that, there’s savoury and sweet on the same plate and that, for me, is perfect.” 

Jody has a “humungous” kitchen with eight gas hobs and two ovens, a perfect place from which to run their business. For now they are doing deliveries of their ‘taster’ menus, keeping it simple, but Jody says she’s “always had a secret desire to have a café or a restaurant because it seems like such a fun, social thing to do”. So this may happen next year.

Taster menu from Canteen Alaturk

In Turkey, the term ‘canteen’ refers to the way the food is displayed in dishes and you choose at the counter, like in our canteens. Every neighbourhood has one and they are open pretty much all day and night. The ‘taster’ menus that Jody and Mesude are offering consist of several dishes – a main with rice and salad, and a dessert, all for £10, and delivered to your door. They also offer a roast option at weekends.

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal from Canteen Alaturk and recommend it. The menu was a hearty, warming chickpea and beef stew (Etli Nohut Yemegi) with rice done the Turkish way with vegetable pickles (which I loved), accompanied by a crunchy, lemony red cabbage salad, and ‘cacik’: yoghurt with cucumber, garlic and dill – so nice – and followed by
a comforting caramelised pumpkin dessert with a subtle flavour of cardamom served with chopped walnuts and cream. go here to see this week’s taster menu and order
via email [email protected]
and Instagram: @canteenalaturk

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.