Pestil is a dessert beloved in Tunceli, as it is in many cities of Türkiye. Made with grapes and mulberries grown in Tunceli, pestil is prepared after the fruit pulp has been laid out to dry. It is preserved to be eaten in winter and has a unique flavour.
Orcik (churchkhela) is made in the villages of Tunceli and eaten as an appetizer. It is also well-known and liked throughout Türkiye. Its preparation begins with the grape harvesting season, and goes through several laborious stages.
In brief, Orcik is prepared by stringing almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or, sometimes, raisins. The nut- or raisin-laden strings are dipped in grape or mulberry molasses and then dried.
Döğme is a type of bulgur from wheat grown in Tunceli’s rich soil. This tasty grain is used for making pilaf and keşkek (a dish of mutton or chicken and coarsely ground wheat).
Red lentils are cooked with coarsely ground wheat, and then served with hot melted butter and coriander – a very unique dish! The addition of a splash of lemon is highly recommended, as the sourness provides even more flavour.
Kumbik is a type of pastry particular to Tunceli, made with eggs, butter, and a lot of milk. The dough mixture is baked in a tray and then cut into squares.
Kofik is a regional dish prepared by boiling dried peppers and aubergines, and then filling them with bulgur, minced meat, butter, tomato paste and various spices.
This dish is prepared by adding a mixture of onion, fried meat, butter, pepper and red chili pepper to a very thin layers of dough and then baking. It is best served fresh from the oven and piping hot. Gömme is usually likened to yağlama, a regional dish of Kayseri.
In autumn, the people of Tunceli go to the mills to get flour ground for the winter. There is usually a queue in front of the mills and değirmen poğaçası are popular snacks for villagers waiting in the lines. A poğaça refers to a pastry with meat or cheese filling; it can also be called pağaç.
Kalbur (Halbur) Hurması
This dessert is prepared using a dough of flour, yoghurt, milk, butter, eggs, and sugar. The dough is cut into walnut-sized pieces and fried in boiling oil.
This is prepared by placing a mixture of spices and finely chopped onions and meat, fried in butter, into two very thin layers of dough. This result is baked on a sheet iron; more butter is brushed on to the extremely hot, baked pancake before it is served. It is a unique flavour.
Aşure has a special place in the Alevi tradition, and is one of the city’s most beloved desserts. It is a tradition for Alevis to give out aşure during their holy days. In Tunceli, residents also call aşure “12 imam corbası (soup of 12 imams)”. The 12-imam reference is to the 12 ingredients in aşure, which include döğme, chickpeas, haricot beans, hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins, dried apricots, peanuts, sugar, and clove.
Made with the milk of the small cows who feed on the meadow grasses of Tunceli’s high mountains, Şavak cheese is available throughout Türkiye but also very popular with visitors to Tunceli, who take it home as a souvenir.
Products with Geographical Indication
Tunceli has three products with geographical indication: Şorbik soup, the mountain garlic of Tunceli, and the Çemişgezek Ulukale mulberry. Delicious and nutritious, şorbik can be prepared as soup or a regular dish. It is unique to Tunceli, as is mountain garlic, which is a wild root grown at the high altitudes of Tunceli. The garlic also creates employment in the region. Mulberries grown in Ulukale Village of the Çemişgezek District are considered to be the most delicious mulberries in Türkiye; they are distributed and sold all over the country.