Coşkun Aral's Siirt

“The food cooked in our kitchen savors of traces from all around Anatolia” writes famous journalist Coşkun Aral in his latest book “My Mother’s Food”. We asked him to tell us about his hometown Siirt.

Siirt is well known with its Büryan kebab and pistachios. What else is there that we don’t know?
For thousands of years there were orchards of various fruit trees in my Siirt and authentic houses with fountains and large courtyards. They were all plastered in chalk white “cas”, a kind of coating used in Mesopotamia. There were narrow streets with granite pavements opening to archways and galleries, doors with knockers that are usually left open and wide, arched windows…

Tillo was the science and astronomy center of region. How to make the experience accumulated there available today?
If we do not forget our past and explore it we can appreciate the importance of Tillo (Aydınlar) and İbrahim Hakkı, who was known as the Leonardo of Anatolia. His museum must be visited and his Marifetname must be rewrited for the young and the children to understand.

How about the secret flavors of Siirt’s cuisine?
Even the breakfast is prepared in tens of different ways depending on the season. There are nearly 30 variations of meatballs made with cracked wheat and meat. Nowhere else on the face of the earth you can taste the authentic kitel prepared with raw meat and sweet basil and various kinds of stews. Also worth mentioning are the “curtain pilaf”, the most favorite dish of Siirt’s cuisine and “cokat”, a meal cooked only for special days.

Can you suggest a route for photographers who will go to Siirt?
It is advisable to go there when the weather neither boiling hot nor freezing cold and the sunlight is not too direct. Waking up early in the morning to photograph the livening up of the market place would be an option.  The Ulu Mosque at the city center is a must for photographers. Also Ras-el Hacer (Taşbaşı) overlooking Botan valley and Tillo where the tombs of İbrahim Hakkı of Erzurum and his tutor are located must be visited.