Pul Biber is my new Turkish Delight | Turkish Souvenirs

Holy Trinity of Turkish Souvenirs

Heading home from my first Turkish holiday in 2008, my suitcase was packed with the holy trinity of Turkish souvenirs for friends and family. It included:
1. Dozens of different sized Nazar Boncuk, the evil eye bead synonymous with a Turkish holiday. No matter where you visit, tread or travel in Turkey, you’re never more than a blink away from your next evil eye bead.

Turkish Evil Eye Photos

2. Small bags of Hazelnut and Pomegranate Turkish Delight, which are evil little enticements. I can eat a whole bag in one sitting, and still crave more. (These definitely have to go in my checked luggage, because they won’t last the flight, in my carry-on).
Sugar Coated Hazelnut Turkish Delight
3. Lastly I had a collection of Kese, the mitt used to exfoliate your skin during a Turkish bath. These unique Turkish exports come in different textures, from smooth to rough.
Bought from Turgutreis Market Bodrum Peninsula
All of these make great gifts, because they don’t take up much room in your luggage and are inexpensive to buy en-mass. But by my 3rd trip to Turkey I was all shopped-out for these souvenirs, and was eager to find an alternative. All I needed was some inspiration to find a souvenir that was a little bit different. So I went in search of something that was evocative of a trip to Turkey, as well as being light and easy to pack, and cheap to buy.

Favourite Past-time

I decided to do what I love, and wandered around the local farmers markets on the Bodrum Peninsula. Some girls like shoe shopping, but I love window-shopping at market stalls. Each visit to a farmers market is an adventure of colours, shapes, sounds, tastes, textures and aromas; it awakens my senses and feeds my soul. Nothing says “Turkish Holiday” for me, like a walk around a local farmers market.

So it’s no surprise that my souvenir inspiration struck whilst I was wandering around Yalikavak’s Thursday market. This was actually the first Turkish market I ever visited, and played a key role in our decision to buy a house nearby. It’s large enough to offer variety at a competitive price, but small enough to still be relaxing to wander around.

Inspiration Strikes

At the spice stall, I met my inspiration; Pul Biber (translation: Chilli Pepper).

Spice Stall at Yalikavak Market Bodrum Peninsula Turkey

Pul Biber is the catch-all generic name used to refer to Turkey’s popular red spice, but there are many different varieties of Turkish red pepper, and each one has a distinct aroma and colour, and offers differing levels of heat.
I realized there was no better way to evoke memories of my trip to Turkey, than buying a trio of Turkish Pul Biber as souvenirs. This way, my friends and family could taste the adventure I’d been on for themselves, and so a new tradition was born.

Spice Stall at Yalikavak Market Bodrum Peninsula Turkey

On this, and each subsequent trip, I bought huge big bags of three types of Pul Biber, and repackaged them in smalls jars or bags to give out as souvenirs.

The Darker the Biber the Bigger the Kick

My new holy trinity of Turkish souvenirs is now:

  1. Urfa Pul Biber – a mild, tangy flake with a slightly woody flavour
  2. Ipec Pul Biber Maras – a fruity medium spiced flake, almost crimson coloured
  3. Aci Pul Biber – a darker red flake with a bitter aftertaste, and a spicy kick
Pul Biber differs from the traditional red pepper flakes, and tends to be more oily with a slightly damp texture. Most stalls have at least three basic Pul Bibers (mild, medium and hot) made from a specific variety, or a combination of varieties. The names and varieties differ by region, so the best way to choose your Pul Biber souvenir, is to ask you local stall holder for a sample.
Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide Logo on a jar of Pul Biber
My kitchen cupboard would be bare without Pul Biber. It lives on the shelf next to my Coleman’s Mustard and a bag of dried red chillis, and between them they satisfy my fiery desires!

No matter what you’re cooking, a sprinkle of Pul Biber will add a depth of flavour to your dish.
There’s just one problem. My friends keep asking “when are you going back to Turkey, I’ve used up all my Pul Biber”.

© 2012 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to “Pul Biber is my new Turkish Delight | Turkish Souvenirs”

  1. 4th December 2012

    My Turkish Joys Reply

    Love this post and I love pul biber! My husband and I put it on practically everything! Olives in pul biber and olive oil, beyaz peynir, on pizza, pide, soups, salads, etc.

  2. 4th December 2012

    Roving Jay Reply

    @MyTurkishJoys I’m considering forming a new non-denominational cult called: “Pul Biber with Everything” – but most things that I cook, get a little sprinkle, because it adds a subtle depth to food.

    • 5th December 2012

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      I am in Jay! Tell me where to sign. My husband is terrible for putting Pul Biber on everything sometimes I wonder if he actually tastes the food or maybe thats the point! Thank you very much for the lovely article.

  3. 12th December 2012

    Shirley Burley Reply

    since finding cayenne is impossible here, the hubby suggested we buy pul biber at one of the Turkish shops. Like My Turkish Joys, I use it on everything, much like I’d use cayenne.

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