I sit in my kitchen and look mournfully at the box of soggy baklava that we brought back from Istanbul a week and a half ago. There are four pieces left and I wonder if I close my eyes and wish real hard if they will turn into the flaky, doughy, nutty perfection that they originally were.
Nope. Well, at least I have a good excuse to go back one day (and don’t worry, those innocent baklava won’t go to waste now that I’ve been introduced to the glorious monstrosity called the “baklava milkshake”).
On every corner in Istanbul there’s a “Best Baklava” shop with sweets piled Grand Budapest Hotel style from the bottom of the window displays to the ceiling. But Develi Kebap is no nonsense. It is embedded deep within the Spice Market, through a maze of shops selling anything from hammocks to teacups to stationery to bathroom cleaning supplies. Its storefront window looks through into a case with trays of glistening baklava.
There are other types of treats there, but we (my entire family, grandparents and all) stuck to baklava, both pistachio and walnut. And it was so good. So, so good. Develi Kebap had mastered the art of layering chewy dough, syrupy nuts and flaky, golden pastry, and then keeping it that way so you get the crunch with every bite you take.
We were in Istanbul in the first place to visit my dad, who was working there. Last winter, he had brought us home a box of baklava from a different bakery that he swore were the best, and at the time, we thought it was too, but there is something unidentifiably special about the baklava at Develi.
Perhaps it’s sitting in the spice market and enjoying them with a glass of tea, or whatever secret mixture of honey and spices they use, or the fat content in the butter that the pastry was made with. Whatever it is, I’m split between wanting to know the recipe and letting it be magic. But there’s no doubt about it, if you’re in Istanbul, go have some baklava (and bring me some back!)
Other restaurants not to miss in Istanbul:
Bean salad @ Söhretler Besiktas Köftecisi
Pierre Loti Cafe