Turks and Greeks; common words, proverbs, idioms.

Istanbul born Greek-Turkish writer Herkul Milas, compiled 4700 common words and 1275 proverb Turks and Greeks use in his book ‘Türkçe Yunanca Ortak Kelimeler, Deyimler ve Atasözleri

When we talk about similarities between Turkish and Greek cultures, many may naturally think this would be a result of Greece being part of Turkey for four to five centuries. However, Turks and Greeks lived together for nearly a thousand years as there was a massive Greek population in the Anatolian mainland. This population was first reduced as a result of the population exchange agreement signed between Greece and Turkey resulted in the uprooting of all Greeks in modern Turkey (and Turks in Greece) from where many of them had lived for centuries after World War I. The remaining Greeks were mostly living in Istanbul and unfortunately they were forced to move after the anti-Greek pogrom in Istanbul in 1955.

Turks and Greeks share many common traits; physical features, emotional reactions, cuisine, customs, traditions, drinks, city names and words. Herkul Milas’ book explains that the similarities between national characters are reflected in the use of common proverbs and idioms.

Greek names among Turkish names on a monument dedicated to soldiers who fought for Ottoman Empire

Greek names among Turkish names on a monument dedicated to soldiers who fought for Ottoman Empire

Herkul Milas included an “Ebru” picture on the cover of his book. The writer explains in the preface of the book that, he sees Greek – Turkish affinity as the affinity between motifs in Ebru art. Multiculturalism is often explained as different cultures living together in mosaic format however Herkul Milas believes in case of Ottomans, the different cultures lived together integrated within each other unlike the pieces in mosaic where each piece is on its own but connected on the sides.

A PDF version of the book can be found here.

You can also find an extended list of common Turkish and Greek words here.

Some food names (TUR-GREEK)

acem pilavı –  acem pilafi
alkol – alkooli
ançüez – ançuya
baharat – bahariko
baklava – baklavas
bamya – bamya
barbunya – barbuni
biber – piperi / piperya
poğaça – bugaça
bulgur – bliguri
cigaralık – cigariliki
çeri (kiraz içkisi) – seri
çipura – çipura
çörek – çüreki
defne – dafni
domates – domata
ekmek kadayıfı – ekmek kadaifi
fasulye – fasoli
fesleğen- vasilikos
fıstık – pistakio
hamsi – hamsi
helva – halvas
ıspanak – spanaki
istavrit – stavridi
istiridye – stridi
kahve – kafes
kalamar – kalamari
karides – garida
katmer – katimeri
kefal – kefalos

akasya – akakia
aralık – aralıki
âşık – asikis
açelya – azalea
bahar – bahari
buğlama – bulamas
fellah – felahos
kanaviçe – kanavaço
kanun – kanonaki
ağustos – avgustos
defter – tefteri
gazete – gazeta
Kur’an – korani
makyaj -makiyaz
nostalji – nostalyia


A Turkish village in Belgium: Faymonville

At the town square of this little village, on a large flag pole, alongside Belgian and Valonia flags, Turkish flag is flying. However nobody in this village speaks Turkish or has Turkish heritage.

The Faymoville village which is situated in the mountainous region of Arden, near Liege, has approximately 100 residents.

At the town square, the library windows has Turkish flags and there is a marble monument at the front in which the crescent and star of Turkish flag are carved.

According to the legend, when the Catholic Church was collecting tax from European countries in 16th century to fight Ottomans, the residents of Faymonville refused to contribute and therefore were named as the “friends of Turks and enemies of the Christian world”

Another legend states that the villagers were called “Turks” as they refused to take part in the crusades and in further annoying the prince of Lierse, they removed the church bells and imitated adhan.

Their reputation also helped the villagers. During the German invasion in WWII, the Nazi army looted entire Belgium however did not touch Faymonville due to the traditional Turkish flags they used all around their village.

The official crest of the village soccer club “Turkania” is also the Turkish flag. The fans wave Turkish flags during matches.

Every year in February, Faymonville villagers march playing Ottoman Janissary Band music led by cavalry carrying Turkish flags in their traditional parade.


Say cheese in Turkish

Cheese (Peynir) is the staple breakfast dish, the inseparable friend of sucuk in toast snack  and the best friend of Turkish mums baking borek and other pastries. You might be surprised to hear that Turkish cuisine boasts around 200 types of cheese. Although you would usually find 20 types of cheese in 5 main categories (Kasar, Tulum, Mihalic, Lor and feta) in supermarket chains, you will find much more variety as you travel in Turkey. Below we have a list of popular Turkish cheese types.


Literally meaning “white cheese”, this is the most popular cheese in Turkey, especially consumed for breakfast. Known as “feta” in English speaking world, it is made by saturating in brine after draining it. It can be extremely creamy, half-creamy or without any cream at all. Beyaz Peynir can be made from cow, sheep or goat milk and can be more or less salty. The Ezine (near Çanakkale) version is particularly famous.

Where to use: You can use it in cold salads (in summer it is often eaten with watermelon) or have it warm in pastries such as Borek and pogaca. If you rest your “beyaz peynir” in cold water for a few hours, it will be desalinated, so you can use it in sweet recipes.

Beyaz peynir - feta cheese


Similar to “Cheddar”, he Kasar is made from cow, sheep or goat’s milk and comes in two versions: fresh (“taze”) or mature (“eski”).


This is the second most consumed cheese in Turkey after Beyaz peynir. It is usually served at breakfast but it also accommodates toast sandwiches, pizzas and börek.

Eski kasar - aged cheese


The “mature” Kasar is also called “old kasar” because it is usually refined in refrigerated cellar of six months to 2 years wrapped in canvas bags. It is a hard cheese, yellow in colour, with a taste appreciated by gourmets. It goes very well with red wine. The version from the Thrace region is renowned for its quality.


Literally meaning “wire chees”, Tel Peyniri is made in central Anatolia and some parts of the Black sea region. This soft cheese is made with skim milk and is hand rolled to take a wiry/filamentary shape which it takes its name from. It is recommended for those who watch their weight because of the low fat and high protein it has but has high levels of salt.

You can use it in omelets and pastries.

Circassian cheese


The “circassian” cheese is a thin crust, light yellow smoky tasting cheese which is low in salt and fat. The smoky flavour comes from exposure to pine wood fire smoke. This process also increases its shelf life.


This fresh cheese takes its name from its shape and texture (Dil means tongue). Made from cow’s milk, it has a fibrous texture and a very sweet but slightly salty taste. It is usually consumed at breakfast. It can also be used in the preparation of künefe particularly in its non-salty versions. If the cheese is braided, it is called Orgu peyniri. Orgu means braid in Turkish.

Kars gravyer cheese


Often called “Kars gravyeri” because of the popularity of the Kars version, this cheese is made from a high-fat cow’s milk. The taste is similar to the French gruyere and texture of the Swiss Emmental. Its manufacture requires more time as it would take about ten months for this cheese to be consumable. It is bright yellow in colour and surrounded by a darker crust with wide and regular holes.

Hellim - Halloumi cheese


As known as “Haloumi” in English speaking world, this cheese is of Cypriot origin. It is semi-hard and unripened in brine. It is made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk (and sometimes cow’s milk with rennet). Famous for its folded shape where the cheese dough is folded in half during its making. It can be kept in cool for up to one year. Some would grill it very lightly in a pan with water, some would add some hot water to have it sweeten and soften up before serving.


Famous in the Arabic speaking world, this is a type of cream cheese, slightly salty and very sweet. Usually used in cooking desserts and sauces.

Lor peyniri


Lor comes in lumps of soft goat cheese and it is created from whey of kasar and Mihalic cheeses. The whey is boiled and the obtained heavy material is then cut into small pieces.

You can spread it on bread and serve it with nuts or tomato paste and various condiments. You can also use it in Boreks


Hard, yellowy cream-colored, round with holes, granulated with a crust this sheep’s milk cheese is a specialty of Balikesir region in the Western Anatolia. This type of cheese can be stored for long.

Tulum peyniri


Tulum peyniri is made with sheep’s or goat’s milk and it takes its name from the goat/sheep skin bag it is saturated in. The saturation time is at minimum three months. The cheese is white or cream in colour and it has a bold and salty flavour. The most famous Tulum peyniri comes from the Erzincan region in the Eastern Anatolia.


It’s pretty much Dil peyniri but in braided form. Orgu means braid in Turkish. The cheese has a fibrous appearance and a very sweet and slightly salty flavour. Consumed at breakfast, it often is used as a replacement of mozarella in salads or pizza.


Otlu peynir is made in the Van region in Eastern Anatolia and it is prepared with sheep’s milk (sometimes mixed with milk cow or goat) and local herbs. Fresh garlic is added at the time of fermentation which gives Otlu peynir its unique flavour.


Promoter, fighter, actor – Tarik Solak

Born in Ankara and migrating to Australia in 1969 as a 5 year old, Tarik Solak grew up in the Brunswick, Melbourne, with Turkish immigrant parents and a large family.

The code was that street gangs were in control, fights were customary and Turkish kids had to stick together. There was racism, they didn’t fit anywhere. With almost no education opportunities provided, very few Turkish teens who grew up in this area managed to get out successfully. Most shifted into assembly plants, got married and had children. Others fell into prison or drug addiction.

The unmerciful life in Brunswick motivated Tarik to keep striving. For self-protection, Tarik started practicing very early with the Taekwondo (an Olympic discipline). After four years of practice he obtained his black belt. Then he discovered the Kick-boxing in the 80ies, rapidly, he decided to promote this discipline through events and gatherings.

Tarik Solak

He organized his first event in the former Night-club of Billboard, to which more than 1700 persons attended. His concept opposes Australian fighters against Turkish fighters, such as: Tibet Hamza, Gerald Ilhan, Recep Saka and Gurkan Ozkan. In 1994, Solak became the first promoter to organize a real show at the Melbourne Festival. An audience of 4000 watched Gurkan Ozkan and Tibet Hamza pick up their first world titles in Kick-boxing.

In 1999, Tarik met Graham Burke in Japan with the K-1 master Ishii and his manager Ken Imai. These men, very important in their industries, signed an agreement: Tarik Solak was to be in charge of the organization of the K-1 tournament in Oceania. On the same year, a new fists and feet boxing star appeared: Mark Hunt. One year later, the Greek Mike Zambidis became a K-1 star. Mark Hunt won in 2001, and also 2002.

Having organized several events in 90s and 2000s, Tarik became the biggest promoter in Oceania region as well as being a worldwide promoter organizing tournaments with big names around the globe. The shows feature lightly dressed dancers, and superfighters from various parts of the world (even Mongolia or Senegal.) He has negotiated the broadcasting rights with heavy-weight TV channels, such as Pay TV and Fox sport.

Tarik Solak is not only a businessman; sharing his passion with others is what he really wants.

In 2006, Tarik Solak moved to Turkey to shoot a TV-Series with Turkish cinema legend Osman Sinav who has directed legendary TV Series such as Deli Yurek and Kurtlar Vadisi.

The new show’s name was “Pusat” (meaning “Armor” in Turkish) featuring Turkish-German actor Haluk Piyes as a young boxer from the traditional Anatolian city of Sivas, battling his way in life with his beloved ones and young boxer friends through match-fixing mafia, corrupted sports organizers. Tarik Solak starred as “Arif”, a boxing trainer with a big heart who retired from the mafia life.

The TV series became a phenomenon, as the actors were very natural (thanks to Tarik’s kickboxing resume). Tarik’s co-star Haluk Piyes had also trained as a boxer in Germany for the same reason as Tarik had trained to be a boxer in his teenage years in Australia and even became the German U19 champion before becoming an actor.

Tarik recently organised a well-known kickboxing tournament in Docklands, Melbourne with the controversial Australian businessman Mick Gatto.

Update 2020

Tarik Solak passed away at the young age of 56, after battling cancer. He has left behind a legacy.


Auburn’s friendliest Turkish deli: Arzum Market

You can experience an old world deli like you remember from your youth at Arzum Market.

Arif and his family members will treat you or your family like one of their own at Arzum.

Auburn’s friendliest Turkish deli: Arzum Market

You can either browse the packed shelves whilst navigating the narrow aisles or directly approach Mr. Arif’s team and tell them what you need. They would happily bring whatever you are after for you. If you have any questions about the product or the brand, they would also make recommendations while bringing your items.

Narrow aisles with packed shelves await you inside Arzum Market.

If you are unsure about the feta, the dessert or the dried nuts, just ask Mr. Arif. He would help you choose better by letting you sample the goods. The chunky feta cheese, delicious aegean olives or home-made desserts will just melt in your mouth. Your senses will love the distinctive old-time aroma that reminds you of “the smell of deli.”

People come from all over Sydney for authentic Turkish specialties.



You can find Turkish spices, bulgur, rice, Turkish jams, Turkish tea, Turkish coffee as well as Bosnian goods.

Tea and coffee machines, Turkish soccer jerseys, flags, home accessories as well as Turkish board games are also available.

If you are lucky, you will also find some home-grown tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables Arzum Market sources from their own network.

Although Arzum Market has a narrow entry it is surprisingly very deep.

Tea and coffee machines, Turkish soccer jerseys, flags, home accessories as well as Turkish board games are also available.


There is a dedicated car park just behind Arzum Market.

You’ll love the friendly service and delicious food at Arzum Market.


Arzum Market is on 61 Rawson Street, Auburn NSW 2144


Phone: (02) 9649 9327


Puffy bread (Lavash) recipe

Lavash bread is a puffy bread usually served as an appetizer in restaurants throughout Turkey. Lavash is also popular in Azerbaijan, Iran, Armenia and Kashmir.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 table spoon of sugar
  • 1 table spoon of dried yeast (or instant yeast)
  • Half table spoon of salt
Put one cup offlour in a mixing bowl, mix with sugar, water and yeast.
Slowly add flour and water to your mixture to ensure the mixture is a little hard and not sticking to your hands.
Once done, let your mixture rest for half an hour.
Break your mixture into small rolls (as small as a lime) and flatten the rolls using a rolling pin.
Cook the pieces on a non-stick pan on both sides until they are puffy. Keep this process short(10-15 seconds) as they tend to burn very easily.

Stack the lavash pieces up using butter to ensure they don’t dry up.

Afiyet olsun !


Turkish spices

Turkish cuisine is a particularly spicy cuisine enhanced by different spices that make this kitchen a delight for our taste buds. The Turkish cuisine served in restaurants might feature only a few spices; mainly chilli, mint and sumac but the Turks at home use a wider variety of condiments.

Here is a list of different spices that make up the traditional Turkish recipes:



In Turkey, the pepper is king, in fact the local spice shop in a Turkish city would have pepper shovels in large pepper bags. You will find all kinds of peppers ; sweet or hot (“aci or tatli”), red peppers (kirmizi biber) or black pepper (kara biber) as flakes or in powder form. There are also yellow and green peppers, thin, elongated, stuffing and fleshy.



Sumac is a decorative flower ornamented with very astringent leaves. The red berries of the flower are harvested and then dried. Its flavour is slightly vinegary and can replace a dash of lemon in a recipe. In the Middle East, sumac is widely used to add a touch of acidity to dishes, as it is done with lemon juice or vinegar. This spice is particularly good with lamb or onion. It can be sprinkled on the meat before grilling or you may use it to marinate fish. It is also used in salads, especially tomato and onions, sprinkling sumac on onions make your salad look a lot more attractive.



Spices used to make Kofte can be used for many other meat dishes. The main kofte spices are; cumin, coriander and chili. This mixture works wonders with most meat dishes. The other spices that are used in making kofte are; black pepper, fenugreek and cloves.



Turkish mint has an intense fragrance that will delight all lovers of mint, and even those who are not. This makes it the ideal complement for the garlic dishes. Add to these two spices some lemon juice and olive oil and you have a delicious marinade for grilling. If you mix mint with plain yogurt and diced cucumber, you get the famous Turkish meze; cacik ! You can use it as an infusion in Turkish tea, and you can also use it to prepare a delicious cold drink for summer!


Oregano is used in many cuisines of the Mediterranean region, from the French to the Turkish cuisines.  You can use oregano in your favorite soups: green vegetables or minestrone. You can use it on BBQ steaks. Oregano also has beautiful affinities with legumes and cabbage dishes.



Anatolian thyme is a different variety from the thyme sold in supermarkets in Australia. Thyme is an herb often associated with Mediterranean cuisine, but it is also used extensively in many countries of the Middle East. The Anatolian thyme, grown in Turkey, gives flavour to grilled meats or vegetables of any kind. One can also add in legumes stews, beans, chickpeas for example, or in the lentil soup.


Indispensable in the cuisines of India, the Middle East and North Africa, fenugreek is a slightly bitter spice that is often used as a fragrant in vegetable dishes and pickles. When cooked in butter or olive oil, it acquires a slightly sweet side, reminiscent of nuts. Its fragrance goes well with green vegetables like broccoli and cabbage dishes. It is used as a remedy for many things in Anatolia. Some women use the fenugreek seeds to increase the size of their breasts. It is also recommended for people with baldness and hair loss.  Please bear in mind, body odour becomes very strong after taking fenugreek.



In western cuisines, particularly in French cuisine, tarragon is used in sauces such as béarnaise. Its fresh and aniseed-ish flavour works wonders in poultry dishes and is excellent with white fish of any kind. Tarragon gives an extremely fragrant, fruity aroma slightly reminiscent of apple. You may use in your leek soup or simply in a vinaigrette for a green salad.



Mastic is an Aegean condiment obtained from the mastic tree. It comes as a yellowish resin which is in the form of small crystals in the pine scent. It is used mostly to flavour desserts and sweets, but it is known to be used in flavouring meat dishes as well. Mastic brings a delicate and resinous flavour and gives a fresh essence that can remind the mint. Turks use mastic as chewing gum flavour, milk-rice pudding and even in Turkish coffee to give it a unique flavour.



Nigella seeds are small black grains similar in appearance to the black sesame. It is found in the Turkish breads and other traditional pastry. The taste is rather sweet and reminds you of nuts. The condiment goes well with potato dishes, vegetables or with a beet salad. It can also be used in marinades and other vinegary preparations such as preparation of chutneys.


Sage has a strong fragrance, traditionally used in the preparation of poultry. It is also customary to find in recipes for stuffing the chicken or turkey. It can also be used to meet the preparations tomato or a simple pasta dish with olive oil. Turks love their sage infusion drank as tea. The Turkish word used for sage, ada cayi, literally means “the island tea”.


To enhance your recipes with fish, use coriander spices, cumin, black cumin and saffron. Grind them together and spread them on your fish fillets, for example, just before putting in the oven. The citrus notes of coriander allied to the rich scent of saffron delight you for sure!


There is also the other spices in Turkish cuisine:
Dill ( Dereotu ), Anis ( Anason ), Basil ( Feslegen ), Cinnamon (stick / powder), Clove ( Karanfil ) Cumin ( Kimyon ), Ginger ( Zencefil ) Laurier ( Defne ) Nutmeg ( Muskat ), Rosemary ( Biberiye ) Pine nuts (Dolmalık Fistik ) Sesame ( Susam ), Saffron, Vanilla ( Vanilya ) Chives ( Yesil soğan ) Celery salt ( Kereviz tozu ), Curry ( Kori ) Parsley (Maydanoz ) Coriander ( Kişniş ), fennel ( Rezene ) and many more.


The largest Turkish supermarket in Sydney

Gima supermarket in Sydney has long been the primary meeting point for those who want to live the Turkish supermarket experience.


Like other supermarket chains, the Auburn store has it’s own customer parking and unless you visit on a public holiday, you can always find parking space.


You can find a diverse variety of Turkish soft drinks including gazoz, ayran and fruit juice types. You can also explore their rich range of Turkish dairy products including sheep, goat and cow milk feta cheeses, aged cheese or other regional cheeses like haloumi or tulum as well as various Turkish yoghurt brands and other dairy products like cream.


You can find bread types from different parts of Turkey. Apart from the so-called “Turkish bread” you may find in other stores, here you will find the real Turkish bread Turkish folk normally would consume. Try the healthy Trabzon bread, or why not have your next breakfast with the sesame covered Turkish bagel “simit”? You may also indulge in scrumptious pastries called “pogaca”.


The supermarket also offers a diverse range of frozen food section which hosts hard-to-find products like Turkish anchovies (hamsi) or Albanian style liver (Arnavut ciger) as well as homemade kofte, manti and borek varieties.


It is important to note, that there is a halal butchery inside the supermarket which means you can also find halal meat and poultry as well as cured meats.


Finally if you are after popular Turkish cookies biscuits, snacks, rice, bulgur, kuru-yemish (dry fruits), desserts types, marinated and fresh olives, as well as non-food stuff for your home, you will find them all at the Gima Supermarket.


It is fair to say you can find pretty much anything you are after that is Turkish, or from the Ottoman diaspora (including middle-eastern or Balkan).


Gima Markets & Gifts
31-35 Queen Street, Auburn NSW 2144
(02) 9749 4588 ‎


Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm


Transit: Auburn Railway Station (325 m N) North Shore & Western


Our popular Turkish Bread Recipe

The foundation of Turkish food is, if anything, the dough made of wheat flour. Besides “ekmek” – the ordinary white bread. The bakers of the Ottoman period believed that Adam, the Patron Saint of Bakers, learned how to make bread from the Archangel Gabriel, after his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Obviously, the secret is still held dearly by the present-day Turkish bakers; no other bread tastes as good as even the everyday Turkish bread.

One realizes the wonderful luxury of Turkish bread upon leaving the country. This blessed food is enjoyed in large quantities and is respected by all, rich and poor, simple and sophisticated. Every neighborhood has a bread-bakery that produces the golden crisp loaves twice a day, morning and afternoon, filling the streets with their irresistible and wholesome aroma. People pick up a few loaves on their way home from work, and end up eating the crisp ends by the time they get there. After a hard day’s work, holding the warm loaf is the best reward, convincing one that all is well.

Turkish bread recipe

Ingredients for Turkish bread

  • 1 table spoon of yeast,
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water,
  • pinch of sugar,
  • 1 1/2 small spoon of salt,
  • 3 table spoons of oil,
  • 4 cups of flour.

Melt yeast and pinch of sugar in warm water; let it rest for 10 minutes.

When it’s frothy, stir it in salt, oil and flour (2 cups). Gradually add the left over flour, mixing it well.

Squeeze 8-10 minutes or until it gets smooth and elastic.

Place the mixture in a greased bowl and let it rise until it doubles (1/2-1 hour.)

Punch down and let rise again until it doubles.

Punch down and divide into 1-4 pieces.

Roll into a diamond shape and then roll up and pinch to seal to form long loaves.

Place it on oiled cookie sheet. Slice the top of the dough with your knife 3 times diagonally down each loaf.

Brush with water and let rise until it doubles again (about 1 hour). Bake at 190 C for 30 minutes.

Use within one day or double wrap and freeze.

Afiyet olsun !