Turkish Baklava meets success in Balkan capital
Beatrice WHITE BELGRADE
Sultans of Istanbul is selling baklava and other classic Turkish sweets in Belgrade.A shop window in central Belgrade offers an eye-catching and mouth-watering sight. Trays of glistening baklava, in a variety of shapes, designs and colors – including the Turkish flag and the crest of Galatasaray football team – are on display, stopping many a passerby in their tracks to take a closer look.
Sultans of Istanbul, a Turkish-run business selling baklava and other classic Turkish sweets is doing a roaring trade in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. The business, established three years ago, now has two shops in the center of Belgrade and hopes to open more soon, both in Serbia and neighboring countries.
No shortage of customers
Mahmut Kurt, who prepares the baklava according to the traditional Turkish recipe, says they have no shortage of customers, whether Serbian locals, immigrants or foreign visitors from abroad. “We sell to Serbs but also to foreigners. People are curious about it. They come in to ask what it is, then to try, and then they come back.”
Kurt became a master of baklava preparation after spending 10 years perfecting the culinary art in Istanbul, where he used to work. He explains that he wanted to move abroad for a change of scenery and is enjoying himself very much.
The “Sultans of Istanbul” franchise is hoping to expand into other countries such as Croatia in the future. Kurt, however, says he wants to stay and live in Serbia. “Life is good here, there are some similarities to Turkey in terms of food and culture, so it’s easy. But I miss my family in Antalya, so I have to return home often.”
Jelena and Ivana are two young Serbian women working in the shop on central Belgrade’s Nikole Pašića Square. They explain that the baklava is hand-made and brought to the shops every morning.
Although the baklava is a popular choice, perhaps surprisingly the shop’s most successful product is şekerpare, says Kurt. They also produce trays of colorful baklava with impressive elaborate designs, including national flags and football team crests.
There is also a traditional sweet similar to Baklava in Serbia but it is very different, says Jelena, adding “I never knew about this kind of baklava before. Actually I never used to like sweets, but after trying this I love it.”