At his Balmain restaurant Efendy, Somer Sivrioglu endeavors to keep up with the trends of the East, traveling back home once or twice a year to explore the growing food culture. Even as new trends and experiments shape Sivrioglu’s menu offerings, he can’t avoid that some ingredients will be forever constant in his cooking.

Staples such as dates, honey, pistachio and cinnamon – among other spices and natural sweeteners – always work their way through his menus. The cuisine of this region is comprised of a complex variety of richness and sweetness, and so Sivrioglu gets creative with his ingredients, balancing the thick sweetness with fresh ingredients such as in this simple salad.

“You can take these traditional flavours so easily from a sweet to a savoury, just based on the ingredients you put around them,” says Sivrioglu.

Rocket, date and pistachio salad

Ingredients

1 bunch fresh rocket
¼ cup of shelled pistachios (fresh pistachios if you can find them)
10 thyme-flower tips
¼ cup of almonds, chopped
8 dried dates

100g barrel aged feta

Dressing
2 tbsp of honey
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of apple vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white pepper

Method

First wash rocket under running water before separating the leaves and discarding the stalks. Separate thyme flower tips from their stems. Next, lightly toss dry pistachios in a pan for about a minute before adding almond flakes and cinnamon to the pan and tossing for another minute. In a separate bowl, mix apple vinegar, honey, lemon juice and olive oil with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Slice dates in half and deseed.

Place fresh ingredients in a bowl, tossing dressing through and finish with crumbled feta.

This piece was produced in partnership with the new CONNOISSEUR Empire Collection, which includes the 'King Cyrus of Persia’ ice cream with pistachio, cinnamon, honey and date.

View our entire Empire flavour exploration here.