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Ottoman cookbooks

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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:55 AM posted to rec.travel.budget.backpack,rec.travel.europe,soc.culture.turkish,rec.travel.asia
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Default Ottoman cookbooks

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x0x Ottoman cookbooks


Ottoman cookbooks with titles like `A Treatise on
Food', `The Cooks' Refuge' and `The Woman of the
House' offer recipes both healthful and tasty.

Years ago when I embarked on my studies of
Turkish cookery, Turkish cookbooks were the first
sources I consulted. There were not many of them.
The books of Ekrem Muhittin Yegen and of our
famous chef, Necip Erturk Usta, were the ones most
people used. These books, which contained a great
number of recipes, were unfortunately not helpful
in my research into Ottoman cuisine. To find what
I was looking for, I made my way to the
antiquarian booksellers. Like a seeker of
treasure, I achieved my aim after combing through
these shops one by one. I found many books written
in the Ottoman script. There was a problem of
course: I didn't know Ottoman. What's more, these
books had no illustrations. Trusting in the
dealers' claims, I bought whatever they gave me.
So enthusiastic was I that within a short time I
began slowly to decipher the books. And that was
when I found myself in a time tunnel.


When we translate these books into modern Turkish,
we can see how different they are from today's
cookbooks in terms both of style and of cooking
techniques. Undoubtedly one of the most important
reasons for this is the socio-economic
transformation experienced between Ottoman times
and our day. Unfortunately, the number of
cookbooks written in past centuries is not many.
But those to hand, whether printed or in
manuscript, offer a welter of information. The
book believed to be the first manuscript work
about cookery is the `Agdiye Risalesi' or `Agdiye
Treatise'. Although some of the recipes in this
18th century work have been included in various
cookbooks, nothing is known about the origin of
the book. The Agdiye Risalesi was transcribed by
Nejat Sefercioglu and printed under the title
`Yemek Risalesi' (A Treatise on Food). This
seven-chapter cookbook, which is housed in the
Library of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey,
is a treasure in the full sense of the word with a
wealth of contents ranging from numerous varieties
of soup and a thousand and one examples of pastry
to stews, kebabs, pickles, salads and sweets. A
lamb steak recipe called `Tesrifati Naim Efendi's
Kulbasti' in particular is such as to be a
favorite even with today's modern world cuisines.


The first printed book of Ottoman cuisine is the
Melce'ut Tabbah'in (The Cooks' Refuge). Compiled
by one of the teachers at the School of Forensic
Medicine, this book was first published in 1844,
in other words, five years following the
declaration of the `Tanzimat' or Reforms, and is
the first book of recipes printed as a result of
social development initiatives. It is also
significant that the book was written by a medical
man. When people are sick, they turn to doctors
and medications for remedies. But correct and
healthful eating can also ensure a healthy life.
Methods of preparing broth and non-greasy foods
for the sick are given in this book. `The Cooks'
Refuge', prepared for publication by Turebi
Efendi, was published in the United Kingdom in
1864 under the title `Turkish Cookery' without
citing the source. With contributions by the
well-known cookbook scholar Turgut Kut together
with Cuneyt Kut, it was translated into Turkish
and published in Turkey in 1997. The second
printed cookbook was written by a woman, Ayse
Fahriye. Published in 1881, this book, `The Woman
of the House,' offers a wealth of information
about Turkish cuisine. Containing recipes for the
more traditional Turkish dishes, it also includes
887 informative entries on subjects ranging from
table settings and kitchen utensils to canning and
drying fruits and vegetables to smoking fish and
roasting meat on a spit. `The Woman of the House'
is known to have been the source of most of the
printed cookbooks that followed it. We would now
like to leave you with the various tastes that we
have selected from the pages of these priceless
Ottoman cookbooks.


Stuffed Mackerel


1 mackerel
2 tbsp. walnut meats
1 tbsp. currants
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. pine nuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 bunch dill, finely chopped
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup olive oil


To clean the mackerel and remove the bones easily,
massage the fish gently with the fingers from the
neck to the tail. Remove the insides and set aside
the flesh. Clean out the bones and leave the fish
skin to one side. Toss the pine nuts into hot oil
in a skillet. When they begin to color, add the
diced onions and saute for 3 or 4 minutes.

Then add, in turn, the fish, the currants, salt,
cinnamon, the walnut meats, allspice, black pepper
and the dill. Mix well and remove from the fire.
When cool, stuff the fish skin with these
ingredients. Roll the fish in flour, dip in egg
and then in the bread crumbs, and fry on both
sides until golden brown. Cool and serve.

Eggs with Clotted Cream


100 g clotted cream (Turkish `kaymak')
3 eggs salt cinnamon, stick or powdered


Melt half the clotted cream in a skillet and break
the eggs over it.

Add salt and cook the eggs over medium heat. Then
add the remaining cream in dollops over the whites
of the eggs and cover the pan. When the cream has
melted, add cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Pickled Bluefish


300- 400 g of bluefish
1 tbsp. saffron
200 ml vinegar
50 g cinnamon
4 cloves
4 cardamom pods
myrtle or bay leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. pine nuts olive oil


First clean the bluefish. Cut into 50 cm long
filets and remove the bones. Score with a knife
and rub well with salt. Fry the fish in olive oil
until golden brown, then drain. Moisten 1 tbsp
saffron with a little water and leave for 10
hours, then squeeze out the water through a piece
of gauze. Reserve this water and bring the saffron
to a boil with 200 ml of vinegar. Pound the 4
cloves and 4 cardamom pods well and mix with the
cinnamon, myrtle and bay leaves.

Arrange a layer of the leaves at the bottom of a
jar. Arrange a layer of fish filets on top, then a
layer of the pounded spices, and add the 2-3
cloves of chopped garlic. Finally, sprinkle the 2
tbsp. of pine nuts on top, add the reserved water
and saffron-flavored vinegar to cover, and close
with a lid. The pickled bluefish will be ready to
eat in 2-3 days. (Do not keep longer than one
month.) Turkish sponge dessert


10 egg whites
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour
For the syrup:
1 kg sugar
500 g water
500 g milk
juice of half a lemon


Beat the egg whites in a bowl with the cornstarch
until white and foamy. Gradually mix in the flour.
Brown the resulting mixture in hot oil. Drain and
place in the syrup. Let stand for 10 minutes, then


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