July 19, 2011

Ottoman Imperial Cuisine Back on Menu in Istanbul

It's an amateur chef's nightmare: a list of ingredients without instructions on how much to use or how to prepare them.

But for Batur Durmay, owner of what's believed to be the only restaurant in the world that serves Ottoman imperial cuisine, the challenge was inviting.

"Ever since my early childhood, food was the only topic around the family's dinner table. We never talked about politics, sports, music, movies – but we loved to explore anything connected with food," said Durmay. His restaurant, Asitane in Istanbul, takes its cue from the sumptuous feasts of the 16th century. Diners have included royalty and cabinet ministers.

It started with two books: the first ever kitchen ledger of the imperial palace in Topkapi dating from 1469 that listed about 45 dishes served at the Ottoman court, and a book describing the royal festivities of 1539 celebrating the circumcision of Suleiman the Magnificent's sons Cihangir and Beyazit. "That text gave us the names of 100 different dishes served at the circumcision feast, but we still didn't have any recipes, or any ingredients," Durmay says.

Read more on The Guardian: Ottoman Imperial Cuisine Back on Menu in Istanbul


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