Spinach, cabbage, carrot, celeriac -dishes made with winter vegetables had an important place in the Ottoman cuisine.
Spinach was used in Turkish cuisine in Central Asia since the 16th century. It was part of various dishes such as vegetable patties, stews, kalye, stuffed spinach leaves, and pitas. The resources mention a spinach dish called “menlene,” prepared for Mehmed the Conqueror with cheese and clotted cream.
Celeriac was used in dishes with meat, and its leaves were added to pickles and salads. Moreover, “maydanoz” (parsley in Turkish) was even called “kereviz-i makadûni,” meaning “Macedonian celeriac.”
It’s known that carrots were used to make soups and dishes in the 15th century and to prepare a dish of stuffed carrots, kalye, and jams in the 16th century. Just like today, it was a root vegetable with many variations in the Anatolian landscape such as white, yellow, orange, red, and purple.
Leek, a vegetable enjoyed by Mehmed the Conqueror with eggs, was used in börek pastries, kalye, and stuffed or roasted leeks.
Introduced to the Turkish cuisine around the 15th or 16th century, cabbage was stuffed to make a dish called “dolma-i kalem-i taze.” It was also used in soups, kalye, and kapuska (cabbage stew).
During the reign of Mehmed I, two rival teams were founded called Okras and Cabbages. They played fierce games against each other and continued to exist until the late years of the empire. An avid fan of the Cabbages, Selim III even wrote a poem about cabbages, which became the team’s slogan: “It is born in winter / Looks like Kaykaus’s quilted turban / It gives us life because cabbage is like fresh rose petals.”
Celeriac with Meat
2 celeriac / 500 g cubed lamb / 1 onion / 2 tbsp. butter / 1 egg / 2 lemons / 3 cups meat broth / 5 g black pepper / 5 g salt
Wash, peel and dice the celeriac. Cook the meat and onion in butter. Add salt and black pepper. Gather the meat in the center of the pot and surround it with the diced celeriac. Add the celeriac shoots and pour in the meat broth. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Squeeze the lemons and whisk the lemon juice with the egg yolk. Pour a spoonful of the broth into the lemon juice. Slowly stir the juice into the dish. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes and serve.
350 g minced meat / 5 large carrots / 1 onion / 2 tbsp. butter / 2 cups meat broth / 5 black pepper / 5 g salt
Chop the onions and cook them in butter. Peel the carrots and chop them into 0.5 centimeter thick slices. Place the carrots at the bottom of a pot and spread the minced meat mixture on top. Repeat the layering sequence until you run out of carrots and minced meat. Add the meat broth, salt and black pepper and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. The dish can be served accompanied by garlic yogurt.