Adapted from Yemek ve Kültür #43

Tatli Has (Lettuce with Sugar) from Southeast Turkey and the surroundings of Adiyaman


4 heads local lettuce

500 ml grape molasses from the same region

2 lemons


First, let’s get our friends and neighbors together and go to the hammam to rid ourselves of the winter doldrums. As we go on our way, don’t forget the lettuce and the molasses that we bought. In the cold room of the hammam, we’ll put all the lettuce in a bucket of water. Now, let’s go into the steam. After sweating and exfoliating and gossiping for a couple of hours on the göbek taşında (the central stone or marble “mattress” of the steam bath) our blood sugar levels will have dropped and one of us will volunteer to go and clean the lettuce. One day I’ll be the one cleaning the lettuce and another day it will be you. Put the washed and dried lettuce on a platter. Twist off the base of the lettuces and spread the leaves in a circle around the platter (sini). We’ll put the molasses in the middle of the platter in the center of the göbek taşında and sit around it dipping the tips of the lettuce leaves in the molasses as we enjoy eating.


It is believed that when spring comes the fresh young lettuces are best enjoyed in the hammam. It’s an old tradition for women. You could also use yoghurt with sugar and lemon juice.

Furthermore, before a family goes to ask for the hand of a bride for their son, the women of the family go the hammam to observe the demeanor of the bride, her body, and attitude. They may take her to the lettuce plantation to walk through it and have her pick the lettuce so that they can judge her skills in the garden. It is also believed that the lettuce garden brings fertility, abundance and luck to the marriage. The essence of life is manifest in a lettuce garden.


Although sugar is not mentioned in this recipe, other than as an alternate to the grape molasses, the photograph accompanying this recipe in Yemek ve Kültur shows a bowl of grape molasses sitting in the center of a plate of sugar, itself in the center of the sini, or platter, surrounded by an array of lettuce leaves. Neither is the lemon mentioned in the principle recipe. Neba suggested that the sugar is perhaps taken for granted or assumed, the implication being that one dips the lettuce leaves in the grape molasses and then sweetens them to taste by dipping them in a bit of sugar.

We both loved the phrasing of this recipe because it not only depends on the regional specificity of the ingredients but also an entire cultural apparatus.