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Turkish Cuisine
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[1] 2
1.       ali
70 posts
 21 Oct 2004 Thu 04:05 am

"Do not dismiss the dish saying that it is just, simply food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself!" Abdulhak Sinasi

For those who travel in culinary pursuits, the Turkish Cuisine is a very curious one. The variety of dishes that make up the Cuisine, the ways they all come together in feast-like meals, and the evident intricacy of each craft offer enough material for life-long study and enjoyment. It is not easy to descern a basic element or a single dominant feature, like the Italian "pasta" or the French "sauce". Whether in a humble home, at a famous restaurant, or at a dinner in a Bey's mansion, familiar patterns of this rich and diverse Cuisine are always present. It is a rare art which satisfies your senses while reconfirming the higher order of society, community and culture.

A practical-minded child watching Mother cook "cabbage dolma" on a lazy, grey winter day is bound to wonder .who on earth discovered this peculiar combination of sauteed rice, pine-nuts, currants, spices, herbs and all tightly wrapped in translucent leaves of cabbage all exactly half an inch thick and stacked-up on an oval serving plate decorated with lemon wedges? How was it possible to transform this humble vegetable to such heights of fashion and delicacy with so few additional ingredients? And, how can such a yummy dish possibly also be good for one?

The modern mind, in a moment of contemplation, has similar thoughts upon entering a modest sweets shop in Turkey where "baklava" is the generic cousin of a dozen or so sophisticated sweet pastries with names like :twisted turban, sultan, saray (palace), lady's navel, nightingal's nest... The same experience awaits you at a "muhallebi"(pudding shop) with a dozen different types of milk puddings.

One can only conclude that the evolution of this glorious Cuisine was not an accident. Similar to other grand Cuisines of the world, it is a result of the combination of three key elements. A nurturing environment is irreplaceable. Turkey is known for an abundance and diversity of foodstuff due to its rich flora, fauna and regional differentiation. And the legacy of an Imperial Kitchen is inescapable. Hundreds of cooks specializing in different types of dishes, all eager to please the royal palate, no doubt had their influence in perfecting the Cuisine as we know it today. The Palace Kitchen, supported by a complex social organization, a vibrant urban life, specialization of labour, trade, and total control of the Spice Road, reflected the culmination of wealth and the flourishing of culture in the capital of a mighty Empire. And the influence of the longevity of social organization should not be taken lightly either. The Turkish State of Anatolia is a millenium old and so, naturally, is the Cuisine. Time is of the essence; as Ibn'i Haldun wrote, "the religion of the King, in time, becomes that of the People", which also holds for the King's food. Thus, the reign of the Ottoman Dynasty during 600 years, and a seamless cultural transition into the present day of modern Turkey, led to the evolution of a grand Cuisine through differentiation, refinement and perfection of dishes, as well as their sequence and combination of the meals.

It is quite rare that all the three conditions above are met, as they are in the French, the Chinese and the Turkish Cuisine. The Turkish Cuisine has the extra privilege of being at the cross-roads of the Far-East and the Mediterranean, which mirrors a long and complex history of Turkish migration from the steppes of Central Asia (where they mingled with the Chinese) to Europe (where they exerted influence all the way to Vienna).

All these unique characteristics and history have bestowed upon the Turkish Cuisine a rich and varied number of dishes, which can be prepared and combined with other dishes in meals of almost infinite variety, but always in a non-arbitary way. This led to a Cuisine that is open to improvisation through development of regional styles, while retaining its deep structure, as all great works of art do. The Cuisine is also an integral aspect of culture. It is a part of the rituals of everyday life events. It reflectes spirituality, in forms that are specific to it, thrrough symbolism and practice.

Anyone who visits Turkey or has had a meal in a Turkish home, regardless of the success of the particular cook, is sure to notice how unique the Cuisine is. Our intention here is to help the uninitiated to enjoy Turkish food by achieving a higher level of understanding of the repertoire of dishes, related cultural practices and their spiritual meaning.

2.       ali
70 posts
 21 Oct 2004 Thu 04:09 am

Asure (Noah's Pudding)
Serves 4

1 ½ glasses ground wheat
2/5 glass rice
30 glasses water
3 glasses milk
3 glasses granulated sugar
50 gr. dried beans
50 gr. dried broad beans
50 gr. chick peas
100 gr. walnuts
100 gr. dried apricots
150 gr. sultanas
100 gr. figs
25 gr. pine nuts
25 gr. currants
100 gr. almonds
1/3 glass rose water

Soak wheat and rice overnight in cold water. Pour out that water and add 30 glasses fresh water, cook over heat a little less than moderate for 6-7 hours until the wheat is tender. Pour through a strainer, press with a wooden spoon in order to strain. Stir this wheat essenced water thoroughly and measure it.

There should be about 12 glasses, add to this wheat essenced water, sugar and milk, place on heat and stir until the sugar melts. Boil either once or twice until the mixture becomes the consistency of quite a thick soup.

Soak the beans; dried broad beans and chick peas overnight in cold water. Boil them the next day and add to the mixture along with the cleaned and washed sultanas, currants, dried apricots cut into small pieces, white pine nuts, boiled almonds after removing their skins, chopped walnuts and rose water. Bring to the boil.

Remove from heat and pour immediately into various bowls. After completely cooling, decorate with almonds, walnuts and pomegranates.

source: http://www.cypnet.co.uk/ncyprus/culture/cuisine/desserts/asure.html

3.       ali
70 posts
 27 Oct 2004 Wed 04:51 am

Lahmacun (Turkish pizza)
* A pack of pitas
* 1 lb ground beef
* 1 lb white onion
* 1 or 2 tomatoes
* Salt, black pepper to taste
* If you can't find tomatoes, you can replace it with 2 table spoons of tomatoe puree.


Peel, wash, place onions with tomatoes in a food processor and ground.
Add salt, black pepper and meat, ground 30 seconds more.
With the help of a spoon spread this mixture over pitas.
Put them in oven and bake at 400F about 20-30 minutes.
Check to see whether meat is cooked. Serve hot.

Source: http://www.cypnet.co.uk/ncyprus/culture/cuisine/meat/lahmacun.html

4.       Lyndie
968 posts
 14 Nov 2004 Sun 10:56 pm

This was a great posting. Especially the 'source' site. I'm off now to print off some more recipes.


5.       Infidel
3 posts
 03 Feb 2005 Thu 01:39 pm

Don't you say 'afiyet olsun' before you eat?

6.       ali
70 posts
 03 Feb 2005 Thu 06:08 pm

Yes, that's right. Besides, you also say "afiyet olsun" when you see somebody eating.

7.       Elisa
0 posts
 03 Feb 2005 Thu 09:41 pm

What a cool, delicious thread Ali!

As I love eating ánd cooking, I'm very interested in Turkish cuisine. I am a bit familiar with it, because we have a couple of good Turkish restaurants over here. I also bought a Turkish cookbook a while ago. But I'm always wanting to learn more, so thank you for your post. And please don't hesitate to post your mum's recipes


8.       irishdon
143 posts
 05 Feb 2005 Sat 10:05 am

does that mean that you are going to become an expert in turkish cooking? If so you have to send samples to everybody signed up on this website so we can evaluate your talents

9.       Elisa
0 posts
 09 Feb 2005 Wed 12:05 am

OK. But then I'd suggest you first invent some virtual reality tool that enables people to see and feel and taste food through modem or cable or adsl

10.       irishdon
143 posts
 09 Feb 2005 Wed 09:36 am

I hope your cooking is better than your sense of humour

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