A Dinner at the Topkapı Serai

First Course - Soups and Mantı

Historical recipes translated from Eski Osmanlıca (Old Ottoman) into French and Modern Turkish, with historical information written by Stéphane/Stefanos Yerasimos 2005

Translations from French into English and modern recipes by Ellen Perlman (SCA: Urtatim, formerly known as Anahita) 2006

Dishes in This Course
Choice of two soups:
Terbiyeli Tavuk Chorbasi - Chicken Soup with Small Noodles, Seasoned with Egg-Lemon Sauce
Buyresiyye (Kadin Tuzluğu Yemeği) - Sweet-&-Sour Meatball Soup with Barberries
Mantı - Seasoned ground lamb enrobed in dough wrapper and boiled, and served with garlic yogurt sauce.

Terbiyeli Tavuk Shorbasi
(Chicken Soup Seasoned with Egg-Lemon Sauce)

In meals of the Topkapi Palace served to palace personnel in the mid-1500s, the whole year the evening meals for the pages and the eunuchs - who formed the summit of the hierarchy of palace personnel - were composed of roast chicken and soup, every night. Six days out of seven the soup was invariably chicken broth:
either plain, or mixed with rice, or pasta, or chestnuts, or chickpeas
and sometimes seasoned with pomegranate molasses or with terbiyeli, a mixture of lemon juice and baten egg yolks.

Additionally, in November 1539, Sultan Suleyman celebrated the circumcision of his sons Bayezid and Jihangir, and among the 41 dishes served the guests of a certain distinction was chicken soup containing rice and almonds and seasoned with lemon and egg yolks.

There is no recipe for these soups in Shirvânî, so this is a reconstructed recipe for chicken broth with small pasta seasoned with a mixture of lemon juice and egg yolks

To serves 60 to 80

2 gal chicken broth
    i used 1 gal from boiling the chickens for the second course and 1 gal of organic chicken broth in anaerobic boxes
15 eggs, beaten
1-3/4 cups lemon juice
    i used bottled organic lemon juice
1/2 lb orzo (wheat flour pasta shaped rather like long rice grains)
  1. Boil orzo in water until just tender (al dente).
  2. Warm broth.
  3. Add drained orzo.
  4. Beat together eggs and lemon juice.
  5. Stir a little warm broth into lemon-eggs, little by little, until eggs are warm.
  6. Stir lemon-eggs into broth.

I chose orzo for two reasons: 1.) it was similar to some pastas described in period texts, and 2.) it was different from the pasta in the second course.

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Buyresiyye (Kadin Tuzluğu Yemeği)
Sweet-&-Sour Meatball Soup

A soup with barberries (Kadintuzluğu Yemeği)) is mentioned on the occasion of the great feasts of 1539 for the circumcision of Sultan Suleyman's sons Bayezid and Jihangir. The recipe was adde by Shirvânîd to his translation of al-Baghdâdî.

Original Recipe
Cook a quantity of meat halfway, crush 200 dragmes of barberries with a little water and pass through a sieve. Pour the juice on the meat, add 200 dragmes of skimmed honey, make some small meatballs and place them as well in the pot, add as well some finely chopped onion, 100 dragmes of almonds, 100 dragmes of red grapes, 14 or 15 tigré apricots, and 50 or so dragmes of rice. Add next 3 dragmes of crushed cloves and 10 red apples chopped fine. Season with salt, and when it is all cooked, asperse with rose water, and withdraw from the fire. One can use tamarind in place of barberries.
--- Shirvânî, folio 126 verso
Urtatim's Recipe
1-3/8 lb dried Barberries
1-1/2 gallons broth
    i used the broth left from cooking the lamb, augmented by vegetable broth concentrate
10 chopped Apples
1-1/2 lb Almonds, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 lb red Grapes, halved and seeded
5 chopped Onions
3/4 lb Rice, raw
    i omitted the rice, because there was plenty in the main course and the dessert course
2-3/4 lb Honey
72 dried Apricots, cut in strips
some Salt
2 tsp Cloves
5 lb ground Lamb made into close to 300 meatballs
2 Tb Rosewater
  1. Wash barberries and soak in plenty of water to cover about 20 min.
  2. Crush barberries and strain, pressing.
  3. Heat broth.
  4. Pour barberry juice and honey into the cooking meat.
  5. Add meat balls, onion, almonds, red grapes, dried apricots, rice, cloves and apples.
  6. Season with salt.
  7. When it is all cooked, sprinkle with rose water.

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Seasoned ground meat enrobed in dough wrapper and boiled

Yerasimos says:
"Mantı is without doubt the dish that attests to the continuity of a Turkish cuisine from Central Asia to our time. It thus appears logical that it is not encountered in the collection of Baghdâdî, but that it was added by Shirvânî. It appears every day in the menu of Mehmed II in June 1469 and as a dish served at the [Topkapı] palace in autumn."
Original Recipe [corrected]
The art of mantı is the following. Cut the dough as that of tutmach, but cut it in larger pieces [that is, in squares]. Make chopped meat from the leg of male sheep and salt it well. Mash a quantity of chick peas and add some cinnamon. Knead the chopped meat with vinegar. In the pieces of pasta dough place a quantity of chopped meat and a quantity of mashed chickpeas, then fold the dough in the form of a "bundle/bindle". In the bottom of a baking dish pour one to two spoonfuls of melted butter, and arrange therein the pasta bundles to fill one, two, or three platters. Place a basin of water that it is well filled in a cauldron. Place on the basin the platters. Cover each platter with another platter so that the steam does not penetrate and does not spoil the contents. Cover the cauldron so that it boils gently. In this way, all this will only be cooked near evening. Little by little as the water evaporates, replace it. When this has completely cooked, mix drained yogurt with garlic, dust it with sumac, and eat.
--- Shirvânî, folio 114 recto - verso

I basically followed Shirvânî's recipe, although I added pepper to the seasoning in the meat.

Urtatim's Recipe
8 lb yogurt (= 1/4 c per diner)
15 cloves garlic
1-1/4 cup dried powdered sumac
  1. Crush garlic and mix with the yogurt, then stir in sumac.
  2. Let stand so garlic will mellow.
5 lb chopped Meat (= 1-1/3 oz per diner)
1-1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar
6 Tb ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup Salt
3 Tb ground Pepper
2 lb. cooked Chickpeas
  1. Open canned chickpeas, drain, then rinse well with water and drain again.
  2. Slip off and discard the skins from the chickpeas.
  3. Then crush chickpeas by hand (not mash)
        we cooks did this as a group - anywhere from two to four of us.
  4. Knead the chopped meat with the vinegar.
  5. Work in salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  6. Add chickpeas to meat.
I purchased 2 large packages of Chinese wonton wrappers.
We ran out as we were making the Mantı on site and had to buy Japanese wonton wrappers at the nearby supermarket.
These were very different, being thicker and tougher - and in the end not as good as the finer, more delicate Chinese wrappers - as they tended to open during boiling.

Use dough squares 1-1/2 to 2 inches on a side.

  1. Place in the center of each square of dough a hazelnut sized ball of chopped meat.
  2. Gather the four corners over the center of the meat. It is helpful to seal the four corners with a little water.

      Two of us did this "assembly line" style on baking sheets, facing each other across the island in the kitchen:
      slap down two or three rows of wrappers
      place the meat
      then gather and seal each mantı
      When we filled one sheet, we started another, until we had finished - we had fewer then 300 but more than 200...
  3. Bring water to a boil in a deep pot.
  4. Drop the bundles into the water.
    At first they will sink, then they will begin to float -- do only a certain number at at time -- how many will fit floating on the surface.
  5. Let simmer around 10 minutes or until they float up to the surface.
    The first time i made these only a very few opened up. This time, quite a few did.
  6. Remove dumplings from the water and drain.
  7. Spread a little sauce on each serving plate.
  8. Place the drained dumplings on the plate.
  9. Spread a little more yogurt over them.

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First Course (you are here)
Choice of two Soups:
Buyresiyye (kadin tuzlugu shorbasi) - Sweet-&-Sour Meatball Soup
Terbiyeli Tavuk Shorbasi - Chicken Broth Seasoned with Egg-Lemon Mixture
Mantı - Seasoned ground lamb enrobed in dough wrappers and boiled, and served with garlic yogurt sauce
Second Course
Flat Bread (purchased)
Fresh Pickled Cucumbers
Rose Petal Jam (purchased)
Merserem - Lamb and Chard in herbed yogurt
Mahmudiyye - Chicken and Apricots with noodles and almonds
Four Colors of Rice
Bulghur with Chestnuts
Beverage Syrups - Morello Cherry and Mulberry
Dessert Course
Sheker Burek - Almond-paste topped yeasted "cookies"
Senbūse Mukallele - Fried almond-filled pastries
Muhallebi - Delicate Rose-Scented Rice Flour and Milk Pudding
Zerde = "Yellow" - Rice Pudding with Saffron and Nuts
Turkish Coffee (Peet's, of course)
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