Baklava - a treat during the 3-day Bayram celebrations
Today marks the end of the annual 30-day fast, which is celebrated with a 3-day public holiday in Turkey, North Cyprus and across the rest of the Muslim world. Those here in London can join in the festivities too.
Traditionally known as Şeker Bayramı (Sweet Eid), the festival is a time to thank God for having the spiritual and physical strength to carry out the month-long fast, which in the summer months is particularly tough as you cannot drink or eat during the long, hot hours of sunrise to sunset. Once Ramazan is over, people eat sweet pastries and confectionery, which they usually refrain from during fasting.
The first day of Bayram starts with a special prayer at the mosque early in the morning. It’s also customary for Turks to remember those who have passed away by visiting the graves of their loved ones. During the day, families and friends will visit each other, and be treated to sweet things. In the evening, loved ones gather to celebrate over a large dinner, while others will go out and have fun.
Sweet Turkish pastries in London
Many people like to bake their own sweet pastries, such as kurabiye or kadeyif. For those pushed for time in the capital, it’s just as each to buy them at their local Turkish patisserie or supermarket. Among the best are Antepliler on Green Lanes, which has a wide range of freshly-baked baklava. Or Yaşar Hallim (Harringay & Palmers Green) whose onsite bakery delivers daily a wide range of pastries, including bastiç and şambalı. Or you can order bespoke Bayram cakes from Partycake in Tottenham – master baker Özgür Aydın is renowned for his fancy creations.
Those south of the river can find a great selection in the patisserie counter in any TFC Supermarket, while Mr Kofte in Peckham makes sweet pastries such as sütlü börek to order and delivers to your door (some orders require minimum 24 hours’ notice & a minimum spend).
Many of London’s top Turkish nightspots also put on special programmes over Bayram and advance booking is highly recommended.
Cyprus Meze Bar in Leyton, East London, leads tonight with a special concert by Turkish Classic Music singer, songwriter and composer Suat Sancar (pictured). The award-winning artist’s career has seen him collaborate with famous Jazz and ethno-classical musicians, as well as pen songs for the likes of Zeki Müren (Elveda). In 2011, he released his debut album Gönülden Üsküdar (Emotions of Uskudar) to critical acclaim. His set tonight will be a mixture of original and cover songs, supported by the venue’s house band and resident singer Popçu Ali. Entry with fixed menu meal all for £25.
On Saturday night, Cyprus Meze Bar reverts to its usual Saturday night programme with Babutsa’s Soner and showman Kadir Ateş leading the fun.
Over in Chingford, Cyprus Garden also has two Bayram specials. Friday night entertainment comes courtesy of Peri Aziz and Doğan Akın İmparator. Fixed menu dinner and show price is just £20. The special Bayram £20 rate continues for Saturday 18th July with the venue promising a packed line-up, which will include surprise guests alongside their usual house band and singers.