When the suffix -ci (pronounced ’zhee’) is added to a Turkish noun it means ‘a maker of’ that thing. Thus a katmerci is a maker of katmer, the crunchy pancake that is a speciality of Gaziantep, in southeastern Anatolia. The supreme katmerci in that foodie city is a man named Mehmet Özsimitci, whose surname translates as ‘maker of genuine simits’. That tells you that one of his ancestors was a specialist in the pretzel/bagels that every Turk consumes as a street snack.
Somewhere along the line, Mehmet’s family swapped from making simits to making katmers, adding greatly to the happiness of the world. Outside his shop, at the end of an arcade in the modern part of the city, Mehmet displays a slogan that translates as ‘Katmer is not a product of a pastry shop but a culture of master Zekeriya’. Zekeriya is Mehmet’s father, who these days sits at the cash register while Mehmet supervises his team of young pastry rollers and dances around the outside tables, taking orders and chatting to customers.
He’ll tell you that katmer is best consumed with tea rather than coffee (and he’ll order you a tea from the shop next door); that katmer is traditionally the first meal eaten by a bride and groom after their wedding night (to restore their energy); and that half his daily production goes to home delivery – transported by moped across Gaziantep and by mail to homesick Turks all over Europe. I hope my recipe does him justice.
2 sheets chilled filo pastry, about 40 x 27cm (16 x 10¾ in) each
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp thick (double) cream, or kaymak (a Turkish dairy product similar to clotted cream)
2 heaped tbsp ground pistachios
1 tbsp sugar
1. Take the filo sheets out of the fridge and leave to warm to room temperature for 1 hour. Spread one sheet out on a large work surface and overlap with another sheet to create a 40 x 40cm (16 x 16in) square of filo. Paint a little ghee where the sheets overlap, and join them together.
2. Leaving a margin of about 10cm (4in) around the edges, dot nine dobs of cream onto the filo to make a square about 20cm (8in) wide. Sprinkle the pistachios and sugar over the cream, and then fold the four edges of pastry over to make a square parcel about 20cm (8in) wide.
3. Pour 1 tablespoon of ghee into a frying pan and swirl to coat. Place the pan over medium heat and let the ghee warm for about 10 seconds. Drop the filo parcel into the pan (wrap-side down) and cook for 2 minutes or until golden. Using two spatulas or large knives, turn the pancake over and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Cut the katmer into eight squares and serve two per person as part of a breakfast spread.
From Anatolia by Somer Sivrioğlu and David Dale (Murdoch Books, £30) out on 9 April
Photograph: Bree Hutchins