Turkey — my mistake, Türkiye — is one of my food paradises. I find the broader Turkish cuisine to successfully check off just about every box on the list, from grilled foods and dairy to stews and dessert. And for dessert and pastry in particular, I’ve got a major weakness for baklava.
Recently, I was the southeastern Anatolian city of Gaziantep, the baklava — and pistachio, called fıstık (fuh-stuk) — capital of Turkey. Although there wasn’t much of a variety of baklava, the choices that were available were of course, quality; not to mention, along the busy downtown street of Karagöz Caddesi, you will find no less than 12 baklava shops, so grab a container of milk and start the gluttony!
But what if I told you that baklava has a less well-known cousin (at least, outside of Turkey and Azerbaijan), an even more decadent, larger-than-a-crêpe phyllo pastry that counts kaymak (clotted cream, traditionally made with water buffalo’s milk), butter, pistachios, and sugar as its main ingredients?
What’s it called? Katmer.
Having only found out about katmer while researching things to do in Gaziantep, I was floored by the description– phyllo dough stretched out like a pizza, filled with kaymak and pistachios, then baked in an oven? ¡Asu madre!
The one place I read about, tucked away in the old town, was called Katmerci Zekeriya Usta (usta means expert, and in this case, I’d say it’s an apt description). As the home of katmer, Gaziantep has more than a few places to try it, but I’d start with Katmerci Zekeriya Usta. It’s typically served for breakfast — given how heavy katmer is, it makes sense — and in that region of Turkey, is given to newlyweds to eat on their first morning of being married, with the intent of giving them a sweet life together.