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Istanbul: the kitchen of the Ottoman Empire

Ottoman cuisine — the sunken Atlantis gastronomy.

Once about its magnificence the whole world was heard, then it plunged into the darkness of time. Many years later, there were people in Istanbul who tried to revive the dishes and the spirit of the great sultan’s feast.

. Behind the high windows of the restaurant Tuğra with imperial greatness carries its waters Bosphorus, and the seagulls circling over the passing boats. Tuğra — the restaurant of the Ottoman cuisine — is located in a real Sultan’s palace near the water, and its inhabitants preferred to get home from the Bosphorus for many centuries (today, too, now the hotel is here Çırağan Palace Kempinski). Entourage appropriate.

Dishes, for example, with the monogram of the Sultan Abdul Mejita. Each ruler had his own dishes, some even had special porcelain that changed color if poison was mixed into the food.

Well, it’s in «Tour«Without need.

In the huge hall just a few tables. The musician sorts through the strings of an old instrument.

Dinner has not yet begun, but a tiny pie with goose liver, hot, freshly baked bread has already been served — and to it are various tapenades, a soufflé of three types of baked cheeses.

Finally, they bring snacks on a silver tray — six so complex dishes that you can’t guess what they are made of.

Zucchini flower, stuffed with rice with pine nuts and barberry, pickled squid, fish in grape leaves with milk sauce, lamb with hummus and pomegranate sauce.

Dishes in a classic Ottoman dinner — as it was initiated by the sultans — at least twenty-four.

Each is a small work of art.

The main idea of ​​the tradition, fostered in the confined space of palace kitchens, is to create food that is as far from the folk as possible, extremely elitist.

800 people worked in the kitchens of the Sultan’s Topkapi Palace; in the kitchen of the restaurant Tuğra — 70.

“We have a very slow restaurant,” says the chef. «Tours» Ur Alparslan. — It takes at least two hours before the guests start serving food. Ottoman cuisine very laborious, with sophisticated technology, with its own sauces for each serving.

Dinner dishes we start cooking at three o’clock in the afternoon. ”

And he demonstrates clay pots in which dishes are languishing in a stove, on oak wood: the necks are sealed with dough so that the juices do not evaporate.

«Dates of life» Ottoman cuisine — from 1453 to 1923 minutes. It is during this period Istanbul was the capital of the empire, stretching from Baghdad to Bucharest. After 1923, the young Turkish republic tried so eagerly to get rid of the heritage of the sultans that their cuisine was betrayed as anathema.

Eighty years nobody remembered about her, but fortunately, she was kept in archives Topkapi and other palaces.

ChefTours«, Just like other chefs in the Ottoman» theme «, I was looking for my own recipes here.

Knowledge is collected literally bit by bit.

The first book with recipes appeared only in 1844, but you can stumble upon important details anywhere: in the accounting books, in the notes of the court doctors, in the records of the table conversations, in the diaries of foreign travelers and viziers (for example, someone Seyid efendi from 1660 to 1664 every day and meticulously wrote down all the dishes served).

Or, for example, from the shopping list of 1539, conclusions can be drawn about the tastes of the palace inhabitants: 22,600 rams, 900 lambs, 11,000 chickens, 900 geese, 650 ducks, 200 pigeons and 40 cows.

The records of different years feature peacocks, rabbits, guinea fowl, oysters, scallops, lobsters, eels.

The “oldest” of modern Ottoman restaurants — far ahead of fashion Asitane — appeared in the Istanbul quarter of Edirnekapi almost 20 years ago.

The menu next to the dishes includes figures — almond soup (1539), hummus made from chickpeas, black currants, pine nuts and cinnamon (1469). These are the years that recipes date. In total, more than two hundred dishes were restored, and about half of them — even unadapted ones.

From time to time in Asitane themed menus are made: for example, “The Epoch of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror”, “Ottoman Aphrodisiacs” or “Fish and Sea Reptiles in Ottoman Style”.

And most of the hits of the current menu refers to the celebration of 1539 in the palace Edirne, dedicated to the two sons of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

Another restaurant — Feriye — located in the bohemian Ortaköy district, in the building not of the palace, but of the former police — it already belongs to a new generation of “Ottomans”, who proudly announce that the sultan’s recipes took as a basis to add a few modern touches to them.

But the real revival of the Ottoman cuisine began when she returned to Topkapi Palace. It happened a year and a half ago. On the territory of one of the main state museums in the courtyard opened Karakol.

His co-owner, Vedat Basaran, is one of those enthusiasts without whom the Ottoman cuisine would have gathered dust in the archives.

Istanbul «gurme» Basaran opened and «Turu» at Çırağan Palace Kempinski, and Feriye, and now — almost the crown of creation.

AT «Caracle», Which is located in a renovated guard house in one of the courtyards, the sultan’s cuisine is served as in the most serious institutions of the world — a tasting set.

It consists of a duck breast kebab with almond-hummus foam and stuffed mastic of mackerel, eggplant best loved in Topkapi, shrimp and octopus terrine with orange dressing and walnut sauce, assorted dolma, whole celery root, stuffed rice herbs, dried fruits and artichokes.

And if you are lucky enough to meet Mr. Basaran himself in the restaurant, which is very likely, then he will tell you something fascinating with unconcealed pleasure.

For example, that kebabs and pilaf in Ottoman and Turkish cuisines do not mean the same thing — the names are similar, but the techniques and “materials” are different.

If, say, kebabs in taverns around Eminonu Marina for centuries were cooked only from lamb, then Topkapi kebabs were made of pigeons, rabbits, ducks and were prepared on eggplant cuttings.

Finally, at the end of last year, the kitchens themselves were opened to the public. Topkapi — a huge kitchen complex where you can see the artifacts of Ottoman cuisine with your own eyes. The twenty chimneys of the Sultan’s kitchens from the Bosphorus seem like a gigantic organ, a temple of an unfamiliar confession.

And in general, if you think about it, for five hundred years they have really served a service here.

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