Whenever I’m in Turkey- and that’s never often enough- I have to eat gozleme, at least once a week, preferably twice. I first witnessed them being made in Cirali, a sleepy village famed for its sweeping beach and turtle population, along the coast from Antalya.

At that time, there were no menus to speak of in the village’s eating spots, you simply went in and were told what they had to offer, or invited to look in the kitchen. At our favourite eating spot the women of the family, dignified, unflustered as the orders came in, sat on low stools and rolled out their home-made gozleme dough, flatbreads essentially, which they filled with crumbled cheese, spinach, and herbs, or meat, and then deftly fired on a slightly convex metal dome set over a wood fire. Blistered and crunchy, moist and pliant within, a traditional gozleme is right up there with the top pizza, if you ask me.

Walking down Edinburgh’s Leith Walk I noticed a doorway framed by potted bay trees, and was gladdened to see a woman, sitting in the window of Kukina, making gozleme on the spot. What a find! The marvellous thing about this thoroughfare is its thriving mix of small, indie businesses that serve a heterogeneous, cosmopolitan demographic, a stimulating contrast to the sterility of the capital’s chain-dominated centre, and more interesting, if less groomed, than more prosperous neighbourhoods, like Stockbridge, with their chi-chi boutiques.

Kukina, we discover when we return that evening, has various sinuously arranged eating areas anchored by a potted olive tree and a small bar decorated with Iznik-style tiles. The people who set it up have applied strategic thinking; they haven’t tried to create a generic British-‘Turkish’ restaurant. There are only two strands to the menu here: gozleme and mezze. If you’re after a kebab, or imam bayildi, look elsewhere.

Frayed after a trying day, that simplicity is fine for us because it makes ordering easier. This is one of the few occasions where I order a formula meal, the Kukina Classic, which essentially gives you a taste of everything savoury they make here.

We’re glad that the dimensions of our table are accommodatingly large as a series of little white porcelain dishes piles up. The range and abundance reminds me of a traditional ‘village breakfast’ in Turkey. If you’ve never experienced that delight, I heartily recommend it. So the table fills up with a salad of red kidney beans, red pepper, tomatoes, chopped gherkins, glistening with oil, and peppery with fresh dill, cucumber in yogurt under a stripe of dried mint, assertively smoky aubergine that’s been bashed to a pulp with silky soft red pepper, and chopped beetroot, which tastes roasted rather than boiled, its earthy sweetness perceptible through its yogurt dressing.

Wisely we hold back a bit on our stack of warm, thin flat bread, knowing that there’s more to come. That was just the warm-up. Now here’s another procession of offerings: crumbly home-made falafels with herby green interiors; Halloumi, not the squeakily cheap type, Halloumi that’s better than the norm; lamb kofta, finely minced, parsley-flecked, and ever so slightly springy, like good doner kebab meat; cheese-filled borek pastries rolled like cigarettes; glistening stuffed vine leaves that have imparted their mentholated taste to the rice within; crusty, cumin-spiced beef sucuk sausages that are crusty from the grill.

All this jostles for space on wooden chopping boards with strips of various sorts of gozleme- potato, beef, feta, spinach, red onion- and lahmacun, the Middle Eastern answer to pizza. All these have been made at lunchtime, and reheated. The potato gozleme has survived the wait best, the others are fine too, but maybe we had too much to eat to start with, we can’t manage them all. If I came again, I’d do so at lunch, to get them freshly made. A reheated gozleme, like a reheated pizza, is a second division eating experience.

But then, considering that we have been served this generous array of food, in the evening, for so little- £26 for two people- it seems churlish to carp. What a bargain!

Kukina, 235 Leith Walk, Edinburgh 0131 241 1387

Food: 7 and a half/10

Service: 9/10

Value for money: 10/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Joanna Blythman

Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018