Ottoman cuisine is a delicious and unique blend of Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Western influences. It has been influenced by many empires such as the Ottoman Empire, the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, the Byzantine Empire, and others.
An anthropological study can be made or perhaps a historical article can be written about why Ottoman dishes were so diverse. We can say that Ottoman cuisine is perfect for finding recipes that will dazzle your guests. Whether you are hosting a dinner party or a small tea party, the Ottoman Empire is brimming with recipes that will surprise your guests with their rich flavor, flamboyant and assertive look, and textures that will spark their imagination. It goes without saying that it is highly unlikely that any of your guests have tried these dishes before. You don’t need a muse to crown yourself a culinary ruler. All you need is to know these 10 Ottoman flavors.
In this article, we will examine some Ottoman dishes, desserts, and drinks that you can prepare at home for your friends and family.
1. Piliç Topkapı
This Ottoman dish is the king of feast tables, the star of its own show. You may have had chicken stuffed with risotto before, but have you ever tried chicken legs stuffed with nutty yet sweet rice? Considering that this dish was created in a world dominated by spice markets, the aromatic spices in rice are not unusual.
Master cooks can add more than one variety of raisins to this dish. After all, this dish was created by brave, perfectionist cooks. Baked in the oven until crispy. When your fork goes into the plate, you’ll find the delicious rice inside that stares at you like gifts from Santa Claus.
Favorite of Fatih Sultan Mehmet, this exotic dish is usually made with lamb. After the lamb is sautéed in butter with shallots, dried fruits and almonds are added. Garnished with honey and sumac, this dish is sweet, salty, and sour. To really get that sultan feeling, serve with saffron rice; It is quite possible to put your own style using chicken or even making a vegan version.
3. Vezir Parmağı
This airy dessert is a light, buttery cake-like pastry made from semolina. Small pieces of dough are then prepared by soaking them in delicious syrup.
There is a wonderful tale behind this dessert. One day, during a hunt, the vizier accidentally cut off the sultan’s finger. While the sultan was enraged by the pain he suffered, the vizier replied, “It is good in everything.” The vizier was later sentenced to prison. On another hunt, the sultan stumbled upon a caravanserai of cannibals. The cannibals ate all the men except the sultan because the sultan was found to have a missing finger. The sultan embraced the vizier and apologized for imprisoning him. The answer of the vizier: “It is good in every deed. If I didn’t go to jail, they would definitely eat me too, because there is no deficiency in my body.”
4. Hünkar Beğendi
If you like the name, which literally translates as ‘Sultan Liked’, you should be prepared for the delights that await you. This dish is chunky, tempting lamb cooked in a tangy tomato sauce. The sauce is then poured over a creamy yet smoky eggplant puree. Those who hate eggplant should be ready to fall in love.
This silky, delicate dish, III. It may have been the result of a competition to create the ultimate meal for Napoleon’s visit to Istanbul. Once you try it you will definitely want to eat it regularly. This dish is indescribable because even your gourmet friends will think you’re exaggerating when you try to describe it.
5. Patlıcanlı Pilav
Rice is a Cinderella dish. On its own, it’s a humble dish, but every country has found a way to turn it into a beautiful princess, from Italy’s risotto to Afghan pulao, Spanish Paella, and Indian Biryani. But there is a shining pilaf among the legends: Turkish Eggplant Pilaf.
A colorful dish in which the fluffiness of the rice is extremely important. You’ll notice that this vegan dish smells like a spicy, exotic perfume. This is because Eggplant Rice is flavored with spices.
Soft Tulum cheese is caressed with a touch of onion and parsley. Then, the inner mortar is wrapped with a yeast-free, thin dough that you can’t get enough of. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts with butter.
This is mentioned in the Grand Vizier Mehmet Kamil Pasha’s book on 19th-century food.
This dish is cheese heaven. Yellowish-orange cheese is melted, thickened with cornmeal, and made into a delicacy for those who love the cheese of this mouthwatering dish. Originating from the Black Sea region of Turkey (northern Turkey), this dish is typically made with Trabzon cheese, but a high-quality, aged cheddar can be used as a substitute.
However, Trabzon cheese has a unique taste. Made from unpasteurized milk, this cheese has such a rich and complex flavor that you may find yourself trying to find a way to import it into your country.
8. Düğün Çorbası
This soup will warm you up in winter. If you were to time travel, you would see a cauldron over an open fire in the Ottoman Palace kitchens. Succulent lamb is usually simmered for hours from a tender neck to softer than your pillow, and the meat should disperse. When ready, a few vegetables such as carrots and onions are thrown into it; then the soup is thickened with egg yolk, lemon juice, and even flour.
If you get the chance to see this dish, which is normally made with pressure cookers today, cooked in its historical texture, you can resist the urge to eat it because the thing created is nothing but magic.
Served in religious ceremonies, especially weddings, this casserole was selected as Turkey’s Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2011. The ingredients are pretty simple: wheat grains, some oil, chicken or meat, and a delicious tomato sauce. Alternatively, some make it with barley, but either way, this dish contains whole grains, protein, and healthy fats to keep you warm in the winter. It’s a comforting dish, reminiscent of delicious porridge, that may even steal the notoriety of chicken noodle soup for being the ‘sick day’ dish.
A plate is so satisfying that you won’t need to eat anything with it. Fortunately, we now have pressure cookers to help make this dish, but this slow cooker is a much more drooling and sticky version of European porridge.
10. Demirhindi Şerbeti
This drink made its way to Italy. The French later refined it as ‘sorbet’. However, Sherbet’s origin was neither Italian ice cream nor an American drink nor an English powder. Its origins were an Ottoman-made sweet drink.
This drink, which contains a dizzying amount of ingredients that will cheer a reporter’s eyes, is even mentioned in Ibn Sina’s book ‘Cannon of Medicine’ in the 11th century. For example, tamarind has antioxidant benefits, cinnamon warms you up in winter, fennel aids digestion, and cloves help fight tooth decay, and that’s just the beginning of the ingredient list!