Eating IN: Deema Turkish Cuisine

Eating IN is a regular feature in Input Fort Wayne by food writer, Molly Conner, who spotlights local food and drink that will tempt you to dine within the Northeast IN region.

Walking into Deema Turkish Cuisine, you can expect an ambiance that’s dim-lit and relaxing, with relics from its old inhabitor, Yen Ching. Looking around, there’s not a lot of Turkish detail, but don’t let that fool you about what you’re going to experience. 

Deema is located in the former Yen Ching spot in Covington Plaza at 6410 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Deema’s menu is a mix of traditional Turkish fare (like kebabs) and Deema originals (a Turkish-inspired burger). What’s really unique about Deema is its use of charcoal—a traditional Turkish cooking technique called Mangal, which imparts a smoky complexity that’s often seen in the States in barbeque joints. 

Deema is located in the former Yen Ching spot in Covington Plaza at 6410 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Dining in at Deema, you’re greeted with complimentary bread with crisp edges and a pillowy center that melts in your mouth. Served with the bread is a jalapeno-infused olive oil. If you’re not averse to a little heat, I highly recommend indulging in the dipping oil, making sure to scoop some chunks of fresh jalapeno onto your bread. After the oil and chiles have a moment to meld together, you’ll have an even spicier oil. So if you’re a lover of heat, leave a slice or two of bread until the end of your meal for a treat.

A small saucer of marinated kalamata olives and rosemary accompanies the bread and oil for a snack that’s rich and gets you salivating for your meal to come.

A small saucer of marinated kalamata olives and rosemary accompanies the bread and oil for a snack that’s rich and gets you salivating for your meal to come. 

A small saucer of marinated kalamata olives and rosemary accompanies the bread and oil for a snack that’s rich and gets you salivating for your meal to come.

The Turkish coffee arrives before the food. It’s concentrated and aromatic, with hints of what I believe is cardamom. Served alongside the coffee is a bite-sized square of cheesecake, which the server explains is to counterbalance the bitterness of the coffee. The cheesecake succeeds its mission and offers a rich, creamy, buttery accompaniment to the coffee-drinking experience. I recommend having a little bite between sips to reap the full benefits of this partnership.  

Turkish coffee is concentrated and aromatic, with hints of cardamom.

First to the table is the baba ghanouj, a smoky eggplant dip that’s popular in the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa. This baba ghanouj is airy and bright, adorned with swirls of olive oil and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds which give it a pleasant burst of juice in each bite, adding layers that are both tart and sweet to the dip’s usual smoky profile.     

The baba ghanouj is a smoky eggplant dip that’s popular in the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa.

Next up is the halloumi & honey. If you’re new to halloumi, it’s a salty, briny young cheese that’s usually made from a combination of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. It browns well when pan-fried or grilled and has a distinctive squeaky chew to it. Deema pairs their halloumi with honey and dried mint leaves, which gives the dish a salty-sweet vibe that’s rounded out with a subtle earthiness from the mint—reminiscent of herbal tea.

Deema pairs their halloumi with honey and dried mint leaves, which gives the dish a salty-sweet vibe that’s rounded out with a subtle earthiness from the mint—reminiscent of herbal tea.

Because it’s winter, I feel an obligation to try the vegetable soup. Rather than offering a distinguishable vegetal flavor, the vegetables in this soup marry together into its own unique taste.

Between its burnt orange hue and the glossy sheen of olive oil laced around its surface, this vegetable soup is stunning to look at.

While I can't detect particular notes from the vegetables in this dish, I can detect the use of beans, which adds a smooth, creaminess to the soup. You’ll notice a subtle herbaceousness courtesy of the dried mint on top, too. Between its burnt orange hue and the glossy sheen of olive oil laced around its surface, this soup is stunning to look at, but isn't overly flavorful.  

Between its burnt orange hue and the glossy sheen of olive oil laced around its surface, this vegetable soup is stunning to look at.

Deema’s use of charcoal really shines through in its kebabs, which are infused with that subtle smokiness that’s synonymous with charcoal grilling. The Adana Beef Kebab is incredibly savory, tender, and well-spiced. It plays nicely with the nutty, slightly bitter tahini sauce it’s served with.

The Adana Beef Kebab is incredibly savory, tender, and well-spiced. It plays nicely with the nutty, slightly bitter tahini sauce it’s served with.

Also served alongside the Adana Beef Kabab is a sweet-savory saffron rice with diced carrots, golden raisins, and whole cardamom pods that explode with floral flavor when you bite into them. I encourage everyone to try the pods, but if eating whole spices isn’t your thing, you can easily pick around them.  

The Adana Beef Kebab is incredibly savory, tender, and well-spiced. It plays nicely with the nutty, slightly bitter tahini sauce it’s served with.

The Chicken Shish Kebab is juicy, salty, slightly tangy, and also rich in spices, with hints of grassy notes from the parsley sprinkled on top. Paired with the Chicken Shish Kebab is a garlic sauce that’s popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions. If you’re a lover of alliums, you’re in for a treat. This zippy, sharp, garlic-filled sauce will leave you craving for it days to come. Served on the side, you’ll find a white rice, which, at first glance and bite, is subtle—unless, of course, your first bite includes one of the whole cloves hiding in the bed of grains. If you’ve never bitten into a whole clove before, prepare your tastebuds for an intense experience that’s bitter upfront and slightly sweet on the comedown. 

The Chicken Shish Kebab is juicy, salty, slightly tangy, and also rich in spices, with hints of grassy notes from the parsley sprinkled on top. Paired with the Chicken Shish Kebab is a garlic sauce that’s popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean r

Both kebabs are served with charred onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes—all punchy and blackened to perfection. The tomatoes are soft and caramelized, while the onions and chiles keep their crunch and add a nice contrast. In addition to the charred onions, there are some sumac onions, which are softer in texture and encase that sour, puckery flavor that sumac is known for.  

Overall experience? The staff is warm and attentive, and the food is top-notch. Yasser, Deema’s chef and owner, even popped by the table to check in. He sat down to talk briefly before returning to his one-man kitchen. I learned that he left a career in real estate to follow his passion for cooking, which developed early on in his life when he started helping his mom in the kitchen when he was 14. His passion for cooking is reflected in the complex flavors in his food and the care he puts into its preparation. 

I want to make a note that charcoal cooking is slow cooking. So going into Deema, I encourage you to make an experience of it—specifically without time limits. If you’re looking for a quick meal, I recommend another destination. However, if you’re looking for food that’s rich in flavor and quality and you have the time to spare, Deema is here for you. After all, what’s better than sharing conversation with our companions over a long meal?  

Menu items in review:
  • Baba Ghanouj
  • Halloumi & Honey
  • Vegetable Soup
  • Adana Beef Kebab
  • Chicken Shish Kebab
  • Turkish Coffee
Localvore friendly? While Deema doesn’t source from any local farms at this time, the owner does drive to Indianapolis, Chicago, and Michigan to source quality ingredients.

Vegetarian and vegan friendly? Deema is both vegetarian and vegan-friendly, featuring many appetizers, salads, and a vegetable kebab that are naturally vegetarian. For vegan options, you’ll want to specify. Most dishes are made with olive oil, but some have butter, which the kitchen can substitute upon request. 

Chef’s choice? Lamb Chops and Chicken Shish Kebab 

Writers choice? Chicken Shish Kebeb and Halloumi & Honey Molly Conner

What I wish I would have tried? The Deema Burger—folks are raving about it. 

Hours & Location:

6410 W. Jefferson Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN 46804
 
Come early, or expect a bit of a wait!

Website and social media:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/deemacuisine/

About the author
Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native. Driven by curiosity and affection for culinary crafts, Molly’s writing explores our food-focused community—from haute, experimental eateries to no-frills, all-flavor mom-and-pops.

To share food tips with Molly, email [email protected]

Read more articles by Molly Conner.

Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native. Driven by curiosity and affection for culinary crafts, Molly’s writing explores our food-focused community—from haute, experimental eateries to no-frills, all-flavor mom-and-pops.